These custom insoles provide full-body benefits
Insoles are an essential part of every shoe – boots, loafers, sneakers, etc. But they’re usually dull, a thin layer of polyurethane or foam meant to provide separation between the sole of your foot and the rest of the shoe. In a pair of Koio sneakers for example, the insole is about 22 millimeters thick and is made of Ortholite foam. This makes the sneakers comfortable, of course, but not incredibly supportive. That’s okay either, because these sneakers aren’t classified as orthotics; most sneakers aren’t, but most people need this type of cushion. Marker inserts or orthopedic insoles.
Can insoles cure foot pain?
The right ones can make even a cheap, unsupportive sneaker look like a luxury performance shoe, but they’re hard to find — in your specific size, too. You see, many body problems can be solved with better arch support. First, there’s plantar fasciitis, tears in the band that stretches from your toes to your heel. People with flat feet are prone to this condition because a flattened foot stretches the plantar fascia. (It should be curved and, as such, much shorter.)
Second, there’s supination or overpronation, terms you’re probably only familiar with if you dance or figure skate. Supination is the natural tendency of the foot to roll over its edges. Overpronation is a term for rolling over when you walk or run. Overpronation is more commonbut supination is often to blame for ankle sprains and twists – something I’m sure we’ve all experienced.
Finally, there is simple structural misalignment, when the feet are out of balance. Misalignment pain first shows up in the feet, but it can also affect the knees, hips, back, and neck because it’s all connected. Dr Arthur Steindleran orthopedic surgeon, proved this in 1955, when he called the interdependencies of the body “the kinetic chain”.
What is the kinetic chain?
According to the American Council on Exercise, “The kinetic chain describes the interrelated groups of body segments, connecting the joints and muscles working together to perform movement and the part of the spine to which they connect. The upper kinetic chain consists of the fingers, wrists, forearms, elbows, upper arms, shoulders, shoulder blades, and spine The lower kinetic chain consists of the toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, upper legs, hips, pelvis and spine.
Since everything works together, the theory goes, fixing a problem affecting one part could improve overall performance. Along the same lines, shoes that value form over function — which is most shoes, to be fair — can make these problems worse. That’s why supportive insoles have been sold by brands like Dr. Scholls for decades. But these, which are made from foam, gel and plastic, wear out quickly and rarely shrink. Instead, they are sold for different ranges: sizes 10-11 or 10.5-11, for example. Even though they’re meant to help, not hurt, there’s no shortage of problems.
Fulton, a new direct-to-consumer brand of cork-based insoles, wants to change that. The Carbon Negative Company sells insoles that fit the size – if you wear a size 8 shoe, you order a size 8 insole. And each is made up of three layers of support: a shock-absorbing cork base, an antimicrobial latex foam midsole and cactus leather insole.
“My co-founder and I used to have pain in our feet and back, but we didn’t know why our daily life led to body pain when we were young and healthy. We asked around and found that it was the norm, not the exception: 77% of people suffer from foot pain and 60% suffer from back pain After speaking with podiatrists, chiropractors, physiotherapists and biomechanical experts, we learned that the Whole-body wellness starts with our feet — our shoes lacking arch support were the problem,” Fulton says founder Daniel Nelson. “So we thought together and built the Fulton…a cork-based insole that molds to the shape of your foot to comfortably support high arches, flat feet, and everything in between. .”
All-natural materials are not only better for the planet, but also better for your feet. Within the first 10 hours of use, Fulton insoles will mold to the shape of your feet, as well as the way they move when you walk or run. They’re stiff at first, sure, but after a few weeks of consistent use you’ll acclimate and they’ll feel like they’re native to the shoe. It is important to leave the insoles in the first pair of shoes they are put on. Every shoe is different, and forcing the insole to adapt to new contours can compromise its ability to support your arches.
How do they work?
But supporting your arches isn’t all it can do. If you look at a typical insole, the heel is raised; it’s a platform, if you will. The Fultons have a similar height, but they cut off the heel to stabilize it no matter how you walk (or stand). They also conform to your feet better, providing custom support versus a universal fit. Universal insoles are nice because of their easy break-in period, but they also don’t help get your kinetic chain back in place.
How do they feel?
At first, Fulton insoles will feel totally different, especially if you are a seasoned wearer of insoles. There is less squish; much less bounce; but you can feel your feet being guided into the correct position. Your arches – or at least mine, which are almost non-existent – slowly reappear, reducing the stress on your plantar fascia. The heel, which often bears the brunt of a day in bad shoes, is elevated and the pressure it typically exerts is redirected to the shock-absorbing cork base.
I admit that the break-in period was difficult for me. No, it wasn’t like wearing a brand new pair of stiff leather boots, but I’m weak when it comes to shoe pain, that’s why I’ll always test a pair before I have to wear them for a day complete. The Fulton insoles tested my limit, at least for the first two days, when my wide feet rubbed on a spot on my left inner arch. However, as I wore them with improved consistency, the hot spot was slowly resolved and they fit like a glove.
Notes from another tester
Editor Steve Mazzucchi tested Fulton’s insoles in a flatter multifunctional shoe.
First, I tested the Fulton soles at Endura Hummvee Flat Pedal Shoes, a skate-style mountain bike shoe that’s meant to be pretty functional off the bike as well. These have become an everyday walking/riding shoe for me as they are comfortable, look great and still have a fairly firm outsole which is great for pedaling a bike.
I had put the soles in some Hoka Speedgoats first, but immediately switched to these shoes because they were so plush I wasn’t sure I could appreciate the soles. The firmness of Endura shoes means that when you add a new, unbroken insole, they really feel firm. But after a week of testing, I think I understand what Fulton wants to do. The insole is starting to adapt to my own soles. As I stood there typing this I could feel it hugging my arches in a way that insoles don’t. Comfortable isn’t the first word I would use to describe it, but supportive might be.
And I have to say, I wore them to an event the other day – OK, it was a protest – that involved hours of standing, a fair amount of biking and walking. All in all, I was out for about five hours, and when I got home I didn’t think about my feet at all. In fact, these more “aggressive” soles lent themselves well to pedaling, supported me standing and walking, and while I don’t consider them comfortable, they certainly aren’t uncomfortable. I also feel like the more I wear them the more they will mold to my feet and hopefully become really as comfortable as they claim.
Size: Men 8-14, Women 5-12
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