Supportive Arch Foot beds….. What are they and why might I need them?
Supportive arch foot beds can have benefits in all types of footwear from ski boots to everyday shoes. They take many forms from custom moulded to off the peg and are available from many brands, the choice can be quite bewildering, in this article we hope to clarify some of the differences and what they mean to you.
Off the peg or Custom moulded.
Any foot bed which has pre formed support we refer to as an ‘Off the peg’ or ‘trim to fit’ foot bed. These include Sidas 3D, Superfeet and Sole softec beds. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, some will suit your feet some won’t, if you have a flat foot then a foot bed with a lot of support may not be comfortable and if you have a high arch then a low support foot bed will not give you the support you require. Care should be taken to choose the right size for you.People will often use a different size foot bed from their shoe size and trim off any excess.
Sidas Custom foot beds are the best supportive footbed solution out there. They start life flat. A machine is used to take a mould of your feet and the foot beds are then heated which makes them flexible, these are pressed into the moulds and you stand on them which shapes them to your feet. As they cool they go stiff and, if done right, the result is a very comfortable foot bed with support just where you need it.
See the Sidas Custom supportive footbed section for more.
Pronation - Normal, Under and Over
You will often hear the word pronate mentioned when talking about foot beds. Pronation is your body’s natural shock absorber but excessive pronation can lead to problems.
During normal Pronation the outside part of the heel makes initial contact with the ground. The foot "rolls" inward about fifteen percent, comes in complete contact with the ground, and can support your body weight without any problem.
Over pronation is when your foot “rolls” inwards more than fifteen percent. This results in inward rotation of the ankle and can cause your foot to ‘grow’ a full size or more as your arch ‘drops’ or ‘collapses’. Over pronation can cause boot fit issues such as rubbing on the inside of your heel, aching in your arch and problems with your toes as your foot extends, it can also lead to bio mechanical problems with knees, hips and back etc as your lower body becomes out of alignment. Under pronation or Supination is when your foot doesn’t roll in sufficiently and your weight is all passed down the outside of your feet. Commonly seen in people with high arches.
How do supportive foot beds help?
A correctly fitted foot bed will support under your arch, reducing the amount of over pronation and therefore rotation of your ankle (often the cause of blisters on the inside edge of your heels). They can reduce the amount that your foot ‘grows’ as weight is transferred onto it (keeping your toes away from the end of your boots). They also help to keep your lower body in better alignment so can help with knee, hip and back problems too. Supportive foot beds aren’t only helpful for problems relating to over pronation, they can help with under pronation (supination) and help many different boot fit issues. Other problems which can be helped with foot beds are plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma and aching in the arch, plus many more.
Which one is for me?
We are all different and getting foot beds that are well suited to your feet as well as your requirements and footwear is key. For most people the Sidas Custom Supportive footbeds are the best solution but if you can find an off the peg footbed which suits your foot they can give very good results. If you would like some advice pick up the phone or drop into the shop with your footwear and we will help you choose the correct product for you.
Supportive or Corrective?
An important point to bear in mind is that the foot beds we refer to here are supportive not corrective. Supportive foot beds should be a good match to the shape of your arch and heel, they help spread the load across the whole surface of your feet and keep you in correct alignment. Corrective foot beds are designed to compensate for a particular medical problem, for example they may have an angled heel cup designed to correct a bio mechanical problem such as misalignment of lower leg. Corrective foot beds require medical training to fit as it is possible to do more harm than good therefore should only be fitted by a trained Podiatrist. (See the Partners, People and Places section for some recommended Podiatrists).
At Backcountry UK we specialise in fitting boots for a wide range of activities from ski touring to hill walking and everyday footwear. If you would like any advice please pick up the phone or drop us an email.
Tel: +44 (0) 1943 816 011 email: firstname.lastname@example.org