It goes without saying that when out walking or hiking, our feet do most of the hard work. This is why it’s so important to make sure that our feet are very well looked after and that appropriate footwear, socks and insoles are worn!
There are many possible causes of foot problems, including:
- inappropriate footwear, such as wearing trainers when out walking
- incorrect insoles, such as leather insoles in walking boots
- unsuitable socks, such as cotton socks
This guide outlines the importance of wearing correct walking boot insoles to help allieviate some foot ailments. If you would like further guidance on the best boots to wear and which socks to wear, please click on the links at the bottom of this guide.
Understanding the foot anatomy can help to identify which insoles to buy. Many walkers and hikers complain of foot ache or sore feet after their walk and the main cause of these conditions is wearing the wrong type of walking boot and shoe insoles. There are many technical insoles on the market today that have been designed to support the foot’s arch. The arches of the foot are made up of many bones (tarsal and metatarsal bones), ligaments and tendons. The purpose of these arches is to support the weight of the body – but only when in the correct posture, distribution of weight and movement!
There are three arch positions:
- High Arch
- Flat Arch
- Normal Arch
(Please see image below)
As shown in the image, with a high arch type foot, most of the impact and shock from walking will be absorbed by the heel and ball of foot. With high arches there is less foot surface to absorb the impact and therefore excessive pressure is placed on the rear of the foot and fore-foot. This can result in heel pain or ball-of-foot pain.
Flat Arch (also known as low arches or fallen arches)
As shown in the image, with a flat arch type foot the whole foot is ‘flat’ upon the ground. This puts extra strain on muscles and ligaments and may cause pain in the legs when walking. Some walkers or hikers with flat arches suffer with pain in the inside of their ankles, knees, hip, back, calf and outerside of the foot.
A foot with a normal arch has weight distributed equally across the foot and heel, therefore supporting the weight of the body correctly.
Aiming to resolve these problems:
There are many different types of insoles that assist with correcting the foot arch. Many orthotic insoles help to fill in the arch cavity and spread the ‘impact shock’, providing extra cushioning and alignment, to help prevent further injuries and maintain a comfortable walk.
Other foot problems and recommended insoles
There are many other foot problems associated with walking, hiking or standing for long periods of time. In the table below, there are FOUR key foot problems, causes of these problems and recommendations of what material/technology is needed to help to resolve or alleviate the problem.
Calluses and/or corns on heel and ball of foot
Caused by pressure and/or friction including hard surfaces
Shock Absorbing material to alleviate the impact and add cushioning when walking. For added cushioning, consider wearing a pair of walking socks with extra cushioning on the heel and toe area
Sore, aching feet
Insufficient arch support in existing insoles
Additional support in arch area and cushioning to absorb impact shock when walking
Insufficient damp/cold protection in existing insoles. Working/standing on concrete for long periods of time (e.g. mechanics, stable hands)
Exisiting insoles are thin and do not provide sufficient cold and damp protection. Wool lining to offer cold and damp protection
Feet overheat due to lack of air circulating within the boots/shoes. Replacing the insoles which have breathable aeration holes and perspiration absorbing anti-blister materials will help to regulate the feet temperature
In some severe cases, purpose built orthotics may be necessary. This will need to be discussed with your GP.