It’s in the soul, man

Designs in insoles vary in philosophy.  As consumers of mass-marketed products, we should tread lightly (excuse the pun) when we apply a force to our body.  “The arch is hitting me in the wrong place” is a refrain heard often on the shoe showroom.

Some insole designers support the foot’s anatomy with a continuous, smooth surface that echoes the foot’s structure, albeit mass produced.  Other designers add components, such as toe crests.  What’s that?  A toe crest is a ridge that runs across the insole, at the base of the toes.  The ridge creates pressure that can be helpful in relieving pain caused by hammer, claw, and mallet toes.  But for some complications and for some foot sizes, this concentrated pressure can be harmful. 

How about custom orthotics in my sandals?

If you’re not local to Boston then find the nearest comfort shoe store and be prepared to try on lots of sandals.  Above all, remain calm; there are at least three challenges to the job:

  • The sandals need to have a removable insole that you can replace with your custom foot orthotics.
  • The shape of the footbed needs to be close to the shape of your orthotic because if it’s not perfect, it can fail to fit in places or gap in others.
  • If the top cover of your orthotic clashes with your orthotics, that could be a “deal-breaker”.

If you’ve tried this, and the experience has left you with a bitter taste in your mouth, let’s ponder for a moment.  In a perfect world, a custom foot orthotic would fit in all your shoes and sandals — and some ¾ length orthotics do fit in “most” shoes.  But it comes at a price.  If you were fitted to custom foot orthotics to address a therapeutic goal, then the best solution is a shoe that gives the orthotic enough depth and breadthe to do its work.  And that usually means an athletic shoe, or what we used to call a “sensible shoe”.  But don’t lose faith.  If the orthotic is doing its job therapeutically but it doesn’t fit into any sandals that you can find, here are two options:

  • Ask your provider if you can get a subsequent pair of orthotics discounted for your sandals.
  • See if one of the pedorthic sandals on the market does a good enough job.

If you are going to invest in another pair of custom foot orthotics especially for sandals, try to identify a popular sandal that is likely to continue to be manufactured for years to come, and is available in a variety of colors and patterns.   When you think of your summer attire, you may need a few categories, including warm tones, cool tones, dress up patents and/or metallics, and neutral nudes and suedes.  The top cover color is an important consideration since it will be visible. 

At the end of the day, no one is the wiser that you’re wearing custom foot orthotics because the footbed is deep and accommodating, burying all that custom comfort for you and you alone.