When your shoes might be to blame for pain

Get expert recommendations before buying supportive insoles

When your shoes might be to blame for pain

Insoles, also known as inserts, can often help people walk away from pain.

These problems often come with names we’ve heard before. People suffering from flat feet, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, bunions or shin splints might all be able to improve their lives with properly prescribed and properly fitted insoles.

Insoles can also help solve issues with knees and hips, according to Amanda Leavy, a senior physical therapist at Sanford Health in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

“When people come to me, there’s usually a symptom,” Leavy said. “Then I will look at their dynamic movement. I will watch them run and walk. I will get a load of information. Then we’ll decide on the next step.”

Guidance from people like Leavy and Sanford Health Equip Grand Forks manager Kassy Gehrls can make that next step less painful than the one before it. They can help people find the source of the problem and make things right.

“This will help you from the ground up — it’s a phrase I use a lot of times with patients,” Leavy said. “Making the decision on what comes next depends on a lot of variables, but we will find something that can help you.”

Common complaints

There is not what you’d call a “typical” patient who will benefit from using insoles. It could be a 12-year-old who is just getting into athletics, or a high school hockey player who has ankle pain and needs the support and stability an insole provides. It could be a 50-something 10K runner intent on piling up the miles, or possibly someone in their 70s who is dealing with hip pain.

“A lot of times patients will come in and say they’re dealing with fatigue in their legs,” said Gehrls, who works with customers referred by providers as well as walk-ins who are curious about what the store has to offer.

“They’re spending a lot of time on their feet because they’re athletes or they have a physical job or they’re doing some kind of high-caliber activity that is leading to discomfort,” she said. “A majority of the time we’re going to be able to decrease discomfort with an off-the-shelf product in our stores.”

The addition of insoles for athletes can be game-changing. The products Leavy and Gehrls offer reduce shock absorption and help stabilize the foot. This more stable and comfortable foundation can decrease pain and improve performance.

“Anytime you’re feeling foot fatigue or an overuse type feeling you’re going to benefit from wearing insoles,” Gehrls said. “Some people feel it more than others but when you’re starting to feel that sensation you should be looking into insoles as a first way to decrease discomfort in your feet.”

Finding the right insoles

There are different routes to finding insoles that make your feet feel better. Most often a visit to a podiatrist or primary care provider will come with a recommendation to try a particular over-the-counter product. The ability of Sanford providers to collaborate with Equip personnel can make the process more efficient and accurate.

“If you’re having problems with your feet, come to a physical therapist,” Leavy said. “If you think shoe inserts might help, we’ll have that conversation and bring that up in a physical therapy evaluation.”

There are many options out there for foot insoles, but they’re not all equal.

“I recommend having a movement evaluation done by a physical therapist instead of standing on a little machine at your local box store,”  Leavy said. “A box store insert might be OK, but I’d rather have the physical therapy evaluation because it includes a holistic assessment and factors in your own health history before you make a purchase.”

Your local Sanford Health Equip team is ready to help you find the right products for your needs. Find a location near you.

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Posted In Healthy Living, Orthopedics, Rehabilitation & Therapy, Sports Medicine