The right shoes and insoles can literally save your life...
We're not kidding. Improper shoes, shoes that are too worn or worn crooked can seriously set you back more than the price of a new pair. The same goes for insoles and orthotics. Whatever you put inside your shoes are likely going to influence how you stand and walk, so we encourage you to not blindly purchase traditional arch support, lifts and cushions, including custom orthotics without asking a lot of questions. Below you will learn the difference between accommodative and functional orthotics and the basic shoe technologies.
There are two different kinds of orthotics – Accommodative and Functional
Accommodative orthotics are designed to “accommodate” or support feet that cannot be restored to normal natural function as a result of birth defects injuries and surgery. Accommodative orthotics often require specialty shoes that are more rigid, have a deeper toe box and other features.
Functional orthotics are designed to "functionally" restore a more normal gait to feet that do not adapt well to standing and walking on flat surfaces by subtly altering the sensations under the feet to influence muscle activation patterns.
You can think of accommodative orthotics as a walker to support someone with a permanent disability, while functional orthotics are more like a coach prodding you to use your muscles correctly with each step.
The foot is designed to function in an unrestricted mode, which means that ProKinetics® Insoles work best in shoes that do not restrict the motion of the feet. However, not restricting the feet is not equivalent to extra wide, sloppy fitting shoes. A sloppy fit leads to excessive motion inside the shoes, blisters, skin irritation and makes our insoles less effective.
Shoe brands, technology and compatibility with ProKinetics® Insoles
We’re often asked to recommend specific brands and models, but as you know, shoes are fashion, and change constantly. If you find a pair of shoes that are perfect for your feet, buy several pair because they'll soon be discontinued. There are a few exceptions like the Converse which has a reputation for providing absolutely no support, but actually works excellent with ProKinetics® UltraThin Insoles.
When you shop for shoes to use with ProKinetics® Insoles, this is what to look for:
Do not use ProKinetics® Insoles with Motion Control and Anti Pronation Shoes
These types of shoes are recommended by the footwear industry for people who over pronate (ankles leaning in). ProKinetics® Insoles are not designed for use with Anti Pronation or Motion Control shoes. These kinds of shoes are statically or dynamically posted on the medial side using wedges or multi density midsoles. We often liken it to walking on top of a roof with one foot on each side of the ridge. Absolutely do not use these shoes if you have unstable ankles from trying to supinate (ankles rolling out) unless you want to risk a twisted ankle. If you wear your shoes harder in the balls of your feet from the middle to the little toe side, this applies to you!
Stability shoes are a mixed bag, so beware. Some of them may just have a wider heel or an internal heel cup supposedly holding the heel in better alignment. Some manufacturers use this term interchangeably with motion control shoes and should not be used with ProKinetics® Insoles.
Podiatrists often recommend extra cushioning is for people who supinate. We do not because we understand that supination or attempted supination is a neuromuscular compensation for structural over pronation. If you address the pronation using ProKinetics® Insoles you automatically take care of the supination. Your heel strike and gait will become softer.
Cushioning in shoes come in a couple of forms – the sock liner or the shoe inner sole, or cushioning may be incorporated in the midsole design. Some sneakers particularly incorporate a honeycomb design with fins inside the midsole, and Nike is famous for its air cushioned heels. MBT made the soft midsole famous that Sketcher later copied in their fitness shoes. Beware of an increased potential for ankle sprains.
Cushioning is a two edged sword. Too much definitely can hurt you by destabilizing your feet which is particularly bad for people who supinate. Correctly functioning feet cushion themselves. Some people, as they age, complain about loss of the padding underneath their feet. If you like the sock liners in your shoes, you can slip the ProKinetics® Ultrathin insoles underneath them or use the ProKinetics® Replacement Insoles.
We recommend neutral shoes. Neutral shoes would be low tech shoes that do not force or restrict motion of the feet. The inside of the shoe is flat and parallel to the ground, often with a slight lift in the heel.
Zero Drop Shoes
ProKinetics® Insoles work fine with shoes that maintain the heel and ball of the foot at the same level. Raising the heel does not alter the efficiency of ProKinetics® Insoles. They work fine in western boots and high heels.
Negative Heel Shoes
A few brands offer a negative heel design where the heel drops below the level of the ball of the foot. The advantage is said to be an improvement in posture. We do not recommend them with ProKinetics® Insoles. Improved posture is one of the ProKnetics® Insoles benefits.
Straight vs. Curved Shoe Last
The shoe last determines the shape of the shoes. The last itself is a model of the foot that the shoes are built around. We recommend a straighter last over a curved last. Sometimes curved lasts are recommended for people with high arches because as the arch rises the foot looks more curved when looking at it from above.
Supportive vs. Flexible shoes
The shoe shank is part of the midsole and creates the rigidity of the shoes, preventing the sole from twisting. Podiatrists recommend stiffer shoes because the rigidity provides better support for their arch support orthotics. This kind of shoe is often less comfortable because as the foot tries to move, a restriction and collision between your feet and the shoes is unavoidable. If you want to restore natural foot motion using ProKinetics® Insoles, flexible shoes work best.
Laced vs. Slip-on Shoes
Shoe laces give you the advantage of making your shoes fit better. While ProKinetics® Insoles will work fine with most snug fitting slip-on shoes, we often recommend laced shoes for people who over pronate badly. We like shoes that lace close to the toes because this kind of lacing allows a greater forefoot fit. Adjusting the laces just right provides a nice snug fit across the forefoot which keeps your feet in the right place on the ProKinetics® Insoles for optimal function and benefit.