When it comes to hiking and walking having a pair of boots that fit is vital, they really can make or break a good outing, however if they do not quite give the comfort you expect you may be considering insoles.
To answer the questions in full you need to understand the why!..
Why do you need them?
Are you experiencing pain?
Have you changed your boots?
Let’s look at these in a little more detail
Are your Walking boots new?
If they are break them in and don’t go straight into a big hike.
Wear your boots at home and on small walks and though this is very different to a hike it will soften them up.
Are you having an issue in one foot only?
Often your feet are slightly different in size, check length and width so correct measurement of your feet is vital. The difference can be a half size or more.
A quick search on the internet will even show shops that specialise in different size shoes to accommodate the variance in size.
Time of day counts, note Your feet are smallest and truest to their genuine size first thing in the morning because, throughout the day, walking and standing causes your feet and ankles to swell to a bigger size. With this in mind you need your boots to be comfortable all day even when they have swollen a little in size.
If you like big hikes consider buying boots in the afternoon and take your own socks that you wear while out walking, as these will be thicker than you daily socks.
Other consideration for foot pain can be:
Conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet and so on, if you are experiencing any foot conditions that cause pain or discomfort, get an assessment from a specialist like ourselves or one local to you.
There is a connection between the upper body and your feet, with movement patterns created based on lifestyle and function, these adaptive and compensation patterns can be corrective and efficient, but they can also be detrimental to the body causing tension onto the joints and muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.
Foot issues can be associated with hip and pelvis issues, similarly foot disorders can create imbalance further up the body so reflect on how long you have had the pain, along with any other issues such as back pain, ITB pain and knee pain.
If you experience any of these into book into the clinic and resolve them, it may also sort out any foot problems.
Which orthotic is best
There are many options, however it comes down to one main reasons!
Why do you really need them?
If you just want a little padding for comfort off the shelf neutral insoles may be suitable.
If you are experiencing pain or problems walking, then custom insole/orthotics is the way to go.
You can buy off the shelf orthotics, buy online but realise these are built for the general public, as you now know your left and right foot can differ a lot, not just in size but motion so trying to take this into account is difficult.
This can be seen from dynamic Gait Analysis as seen in the pictures showing four different scenarios.
Each image shows a full Gait Cycle from heel impact to propulsion when walking… along with the pathway you can see weight distribution indicated by the red points.
With a Gait Analysis these are the details discussed in detail along with what they all mean for a way forward.
These particular scans are from a RS Footscan, a unit with 8000 pressure sensors that precisely maps out your Gait cycle, this is the data along with assessment and examination used to provide custom orthotics built around how you move.
There are other methods for a Gait analysis such as a static moulding though this does not resemble a dynamic motion.
You can an online assessment, the less said the better.
A Gait analysis via a visual assessment on a running machine using video analysis, for simple overpronation issues these can be useful, however they do not tell you if there are other issues.
Ideally you want a custom fit orthotic based on a dynamic Gait Analysis these can be tailored to differences in your feet, for injury rehabilitation and to enhanced performance and greater comfort.