Tuesday, September 24, 2013

High / Low: Shoe Inserts

Go high end.

In Paris a few years ago, my mother's first stop was to pull me into a pharmacie and purchase a pair of shoe inserts for about 60 (currently around $80).  At the time, I thought it was an incredibly foolish waste of money, but every day over the next two weeks she gushed over the comfort they gave her as we covered the cobblestones from Trocadéro, to Les Champs-Élysées, to Les Puces.

Now, after years of NYC concrete walking, my lower back tells me that it is a rare pair of shoes that does not need an added cushion of some kind, and I finally understand her purchase.

Not only do insoles help everyday walking, but they also help make tennis shoes last a bit longer as well. As runners know, the padding in tennis shoes may collapse before the sole of the shoe shows enough wear to suggest buying a new pair. If a new insert is added, it can extend the lifespan of support, and therefore extend the length of time between buying new running shoes.

I've tried all the usual drugstore brands as well as the higher-end insoles sold at walking stores, and I have found that the inexpensive version is never worth the price; they are never as supportive as the expensive brands, making them pretty useless and therefore not worth a lower price. I believe the best use of money is to buy the expensive insoles, and to avoid materials that cannot be washed. If one needs to supplement her collection or only buy brands from the drugstore, sticking with the more expensive drugstore brands like Dr. Scholl's will be the best use of money.

When I stopped into a walking shoe store and stood on the foot indicator, I learned I have high arches. I bought a pair of the insoles suggested for $60, and later went back for two more pairs. They have lasted quite a long time and they can be washed, which makes a huge difference when one does not usually wear socks in the summer. These expensive inserts are the best ones I have. I usually wear my Toms when walking to work, and these inserts make them more supportive.

As supportive as they are, these expensive inserts do take up a bit of space in one's shoes, so sometimes the drugstore brands are a better fit.

After trying out every available option, I now stick with Dr. Scholl's because they do not usually fall apart and they do offer the best support for the longest period of time. Within the Dr. Scholl's brand there are a few styles that work better than others. These are my drugstore favorites -- my first and second choices for both my flats and my heels.

For high heel shoes, these are my favorite inserts. I like that they have arch support as well as cushioning for the ball of the foot. I do find that my size 10 foot needs the insert to placed exactly in the right position as they are not long enough to cover both the ball of my foot and my heel, but since in high heels one's weight is mostly on the ball of her foot, it is not too much of a problem. (I would love a longer version, though, Dr. Scholls!)

If those are not available, I purchase these cushions that only pad the ball of the foot. If one does not need arch support, these are probably the best bet as they are slightly less expensive and offer the same ball of the foot padding.

For use in my flats, I prefer these, which offer arch support (pictured in Men's, but are available for both sexes, and I've used both). I like that they are long enough to not slip out, but they also do not add extra bulk inside my shoes.

If those are unavailable, I might get these for my flats (again, pictured in Men's, but available for both sexes, and I've used both). These do not offer arch support, but they still add cushioning where one's weight is heaviest in flats -- on her heels. But be warned: They slip around easily, and sprinting across the street may make them fly out!

All but the first image are from Dr. Scholl's.
(This is not a sponsored post, just a couple of products I enjoy.)

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