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Podfo Ltd works with a national network of clinicians to prescribe Podfo, a bespoke biometric insole seamlessly designed for the closest fit to the foot, which supports the foot’s natural movement to enhance biomechanical performance and improve comfort.
We recently spoke to David Eardley, Podfo’s Clinical Lead and Lead Podiatrist at the North East Foot Centre, to discuss insoles in general and answer the key questions people have surrounding insole effectiveness.
As a Podiatrist I get asked many questions regarding what is the ‘right’ type of insole. However, as with shoes, insoles are never a one size fits all solution and it is particularly difficult to advise individuals on the pain they experience when wearing insoles without knowing the causative factors, history, or without having an opportunity to examine them.
I get asked this question a huge amount from walk-in clients who have usually purchased an off the shelf insole elsewhere and have found them uncomfortable. Some off the shelf insoles are very good at doing certain things, but if they hurt from the beginning they are unlikely to improve and may make symptoms worse or potentially cause new problems. If they do hurt it is best to seek advice from a foot specialist.
When your foot specialist first fits your custom insoles, they would not expect any immediate discomfort. This is because your clinician will have looked at the history of the pain you have been experiencing and completed a static (standing) and dynamic (walking) examination to identify all the factors that may lead to your pain. Upon doing so a treatment plan should be created, prescribing where necessary custom insoles which will have specific aims of supporting targeted areas in the foot to aid rehabilitation and prevent re-injury.
Due to the unique prescription variables that Podfo provides, “tissue targeting” is something that Podfo excels at. Podfo can help the clinician to refine your custom podfo prescription to improve your treatment plan success. Because Podfo are designed to fit your foot, your footwear choices will be discussed and considered, and an impression or cast of your foot held in the correct position will be taken to provide a bespoke fit designed by Podfo’s sophisticated 3D technology.
Put simply, maybe a little, but not for long. The aim of any insoles that are used for a therapeutic need, i.e. to aid healing and prevent re-injury, is to make a change to the existing forces in your feet that are usually the underlying cause of the problem. An analogy that I give in my clinic is that although you may enjoy your new HIIT class, doing it 5 times in week one is probably going to cause some sore points! The same applies to your custom insoles, they are designed to make a change to the way you stand and walk so a little discomfort to certain muscle groups is to be expected as the body adapts.
Some discomfort isn’t always the case however, and the general rule of thumb is that the more severe the problem, the more likely your treatment plan will need to be completed in stages. For example you may be asked to wear your custom insoles for one hour per day and increase your use of them gradually. However, your prescribing health care professional will advise on this. On the whole, any discomfort should be mild and of a reducing nature.
More often than not, continued discomfort is due to a lack of compatibility with an unsuitable shoe, or due the wearer not adhering to their treatment plan. However I advise if discomfort continues that you always go back to your prescribing professional who will be able to help.
If off the shelf insoles hurt it would be very difficult for the self-treating person to know whether this was a beneficial part of the rehabilitation process, or just the start of a new problem. I advise that help is sought from a qualified foot specialist if they hurt.
If your insoles hurt on a prolonged basis they are not helping you. Predominately the cause of this is that the insole doesn’t fit your foot and does not provide the right medical treatment you require when standing, walking or both. A custom insole such as Podfo, will take these different foot activities into account and fit whatever your activity level.
Secondly, if they hurt, one thing to consider is if the insole correctly fits your footwear. There is a significant difference between a football boot and a casual canvas trainer. A bespoke insole designed and manufactured utilising sophisticated advanced 3D technology, such as Podfo, provides you with a close fit to your foot, considering all the subtleties of shape and form, which could be better for your comfort and overall treatment results. After all, an insole that is not coming into contact with your feet in the right places, can’t be having the right effect. When you use an off the shelf insole, that reassuring arch support can soon become a painful blister, causing irritation if the fit is not right for you.
The joints, inter-connecting ligaments and the key actions of your muscles help to support the arch structure of your foot and aid in standing and walking. If an off the shelf insole hurts your feet and you are experiencing pain, then it could mean that it isn’t offering the support you require and will enhance any discomfort you may have been feeling. Sometimes this pain may have a beneficial effect to your gait as you subconsciously move your foot to avoid the pain, but this is by no means an effective solution.
The first question a clinician would look to answer, is whether or not arch support is right to address your needs, or are there other parts of the foot that require the right amount of control or ‘lift’, to help stop the medial arch (the long ‘inside’ arch of your foot) from getting too low, which can cause strain on some of the muscles and ligaments. A good qualified foot and biomechanical specialist, usually an orthotist or podiatrist, once they have answered these questions will then be able to finely tune Podfo based upon your exact requirements.
Although off the shelf insoles can be seen as a cheap and effective solution for some foot ailments, bespoke insoles, such as Podfo, provides clinicians with greater prescriptive possibilities and improved variable flexibility in an orthotic solution to meet the patient’s needs.
Podfo was featured in The Telegraph’s ‘70 ways to save the NHS’, which highlighted the innovative nature of Podfo and its ability to improve comfort and ensure ongoing corrective orthotic support, through its highly durable and hygienic design.