Foot Problems From Bad Inserts

Foot Problems

Getty Images / Oscar Wong

It is common to develop new aches, pains, and foot problems when you get a new pair of insoles. Even if you are replacing your favorite arch support with one of the same model, you can feel some odd pains. The same is true if you bought magnetic or acupressure insoles in hopes of getting additional benefits. It can take some detective work to determine whether it is the shoes or the insoles that are at fault.

You may experience these kinds of problems when you switch insoles:

  • Ankle pain: The sides of your ankles can begin to hurt when you walk. This may feel like shin splints, but on the outside or inside of each ankle. Shin splints hurt on the front of the shins and extend down to the ankle or up as far as the knee.
  • Arch pain: If your insoles are producing discomfort or pain in your arch, they may be providing too much or too little arch support.
  • Blisters: You may suddenly develop tender hot spots or blisters on your toes, heels, or balls of your foot. The tops of your toes may become tender, especially at the base of each toenail.

These problems might resolve themselves in a few days. But you shouldn't let them go on for any length of time.

Don't take a new pair of insoles out for a long run or wear them for an all-day walking tour. When you first get them, wear them for 15 minutes, then switch back to your old footwear. Build up this time gradually, adding five or 10 minutes per session. This gives your muscles and ligaments time to adjust.

Determine the Source of Foot Problems

It's best to only change either your shoes or your insoles, not both at once. Otherwise, it can be hard to identify which is producing new aches and pains. To investigate whether shoes or insoles are causing problems, start by going back to your old shoes and insoles. If your symptoms fade, it is a good chance that the new shoes or insoles are at fault.

Shoe Problems

Even if you bought the same model you already had, there can be differences in manufacturing that make the new pair less appropriate for you. The design may have changed since when you last bought them, or they may be coming from a different factory. Finally, you could just be noting the variation from pair to pair.

If you've worn the insoles with a new pair of shoes, check the wear pattern on the sole and compare it with your on your old pair of shoes. Any changes to your gait, which will reflect in the wear pattern, could be due to either the shoes themselves or to the insoles.

To see which may be more at fault, wear your new shoes with your old insoles (or no insoles) and see if the problems persist. You can also try the new insoles in your old shoes and see which symptoms you experience.

Arch Support Problems

If you switched to a thicker arch support or one that runs the full length of the shoe, it might be too thick and too high. This could transfer your weight to the outsides of your feet, which could result in ankle pain.

The outside of your toes can rub on your shoes because of the high arch padding. This can lead to tenderness, hot spots, and blisters. Insoles that are too thick can force your toes up against the top of the shoe, resulting in pain to the nail beds and even contributing to black toenails.

Take Action

Don't suffer, thinking you are going to break your new insoles in. Insoles should feel great from the first wearing, or they are not for you. If you’re having any problems with new insoles, it's best to stop wearing them. Aches and pains can lead to an injury and blisters can lead to a skin infection.

To reduce expenses, buy shoes and insoles from retailers with a generous return policy. In any case, it can be cheaper, in the long run, to absorb the loss rather than incur a medical bill.

1 Source
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  1. Pingel C, McDowell C. Subungual hematoma drainage. In: StatPearls [Internet]. StatPearls Publishing.

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.