Diminished Heel Pad Treatment

I know a number of runners and athletes who struggle with loss of the fat pad under their heels. It’s a fairly common problem as we age. Some people have more of a problem with this than others. Several weeks ago I received an email from John Marnell. He wanted to share what worked for him.

John is 73 years old and has run for 40 years. He’s done many marathons plus a period of ten years when he did ultras. He says, “I feel fortunate to still be sort of running.”

Here’s John story about his fat pad history and treatment.

“I thought my condition was plantar fasciitis and tried self-treatment for quite a while. Finally, with no improvement I went to a sports podiatrist who ordered an MRI. Results showed a severely diminished heel pad on the left foot. He wanted to try these additions to my orthotics before considering other treatments.

“It’s best described as a horseshoe shaped dense foam pad he cut and trimmed to fit and then glued them directly onto both orthotics. They keep the bottom of the heel from direct impact on the orthotic. Heel pain gone. I’ve used them for six months with continued success.

Horseshoe pad for fat pad treatment

Heel Pad Treatment

The pad is 3/16” thick at the back and along the sides of the orthotic, tapering slightly to fit, and cup my heel toward the center of the orthotic.”

This is a simple fix that could work for many people. You can see the horseshoe shaped pad on the heel of John’s insole. Any podiatrist or pedorthist could make the same thing for you. If you struggle with pain from the loss of your fat pads. Give this a try.

Thanks John for sharing your treatment and the picture.

The Power of ENGO

December 5, 2017 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: blister care, Foot Care, Foot Care Products, Footcare, Footwear 

Tamarack Habilitation Technologies, a company dedicated to the prevention and relief of skin breakdown for individuals with prosthetic limbs and orthopedic braces, created ENGO Blister Prevention Patches in 2004. The patches are designed to prevent blisters and reduce pain from existing blisters. These patches are one of the best products to help athletes that have been released in many years. I think two or three of these thin ENGO Patches patches should be in everyone’s foot care kit.

ENGO Heel Patches

ENGO Heel Patches

ENGO low-friction patches are applied to your shoe, insole, or orthotic—not your skin. The patches are made with three layers: a low friction outer surface made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), a fabric backing, and an adhesive. Patches range from small and large ovals to a large rectangle to a shaped strip for heels—and each can be cut to size. These thin patches can greatly reduce friction in targeted locations within your footwear by giving a slick, slippery surface to the area of your footwear or insole where friction is a problem. Socks slide over the patch, reducing the usual drag, which allows the foot’s skin and the sock to glide with the underneath bone through the foot strike, reducing shear distortions in that area.

ENGO offers multiple advantages over other blister prevention and treatment products:

  • Reduction in friction levels
  • Targeted protection at the specific problem area to reduce friction
  • Durable and can last for months
  • Cost-effective based on their small size and durability
  • Well tolerated because it is placed on and in footwear
  • Takes up virtually no space so it doesn’t change the fit of the shoe
ENGO side of the foot patch

ENGO side of the foot patch

ENGO patches can work in footwear to reduce shear, prevent blisters, and provide relief almost anywhere on the foot: the bottom and sides of the heel, ball of the foot, side of the foot, and arch areas. Patches should be applied to dry and clean footwear, which makes them perfect for proactive prevention. Sometimes when shoes are wet, patches are applied to dry socks. The patches have many uses, including on bike seats, paddles, tool handles, and more.

ENGO rectangle patches in a package

ENGO rectangle patches in a package

Types of ENGO Patches

ENGO patches come in small and large ovals, back of the heel patches, and rectangles. A good rule of thumb is to select a patch that is slightly larger than troubled area or blister. Select the patch that is right for you, based on the area where you have a blister:

  • Heel: ENGO Back of Heel Patches
  • Arch: ENGO Large Oval Patches
  • Ball of foot: ENGO Oval or rectangle
  • Side of foot: ENGO Large Oval Patches
  • Toes: ENGO Small Ovals
  • Skates, Helmets, Boots: ENGO Rectangle Blister Patches
  • Multiple Blisters: ENGO Blister Prevention Patch Variety Pack

Using ENGO Patches

  • Remove half of the patch from the backing, using the backing to create a tab. Use tab for handling patch.
  • Apply adhesive side of ENGO patch to desired location of clean, dry footwear.
    Tip: ENGO may last longer when anchored to a surface. For example, wrapping patches around the edge/sides of the insole.
  • Peel remaining backing away from patch.
  • If blisters form at interface of footwear & insole, use two patches. One patch is placed on the footwear. The other patch is placed on the insole. A smooth interface is created.
  • Press firmly around entire patch surface to secure.
  • To protect remaining patched and preserve their quality, store your unused patches in the re-closable, heavy duty ENGO bag that they came in.

Tamarack is always developing new products, for instance, a thin lowfriction tape that could be useful for athletes and special socks with a low friction forefoot. The best way to connect with Tamarack is through the ENGO website, goengo.com.

Note: ENGO patches need to be applied to dry shoes.

The Year’s Best Blister Horror Story

You may have seen the news articles either in your newspaper, or on Facebook, or on TV. Let me paint you a word picture of some of the headlines and quotes:

  • Blister sparked tears
  • “I got a really bad blister.”
  • “My mind was ‘blocked with pain’ of a blister.”
  • Pain and tears
  • Blister caused meltdown

Marin Cilic let the tears come midway through the second set after calling for medical attention for a nasty blister on his left foot. The former US Tennis Open champion had tried to play through the pain, but couldn’t stop Federer from winning the tournament. Cilic said, “I got a bad blister in the semi-final against Sam Querrey. Fluid just came down under my callous in the foot.” The medical staff helped him over a period of 30 hours and did as much as they could. He said, “I still felt the pain. Every time I had to do a reaction fast, fast change of movement, I was unable to do that.” Cilic was challenged emotionally because of everything he had gone through in the months before Wimbledon. “It was very, very difficult to deal with it. It didn’t hurt so much that it was putting me in tears. It was just that feeling that I wasn’t able to give the best.” Here’s the full story.

Wimbledon 2017: Devastated Marin Cilic Reveals Blister Sparked Tears

What did this cost Cilic? It cost him the championship at Wimbledon and the fame and fortune that goes with it. Putting it into language that athletes would understand, If this had been you, it could have cost you a completion of a hundred mile race, an adventure race win, a marathon win, a through hike, and more.

So here’s what happened. We know that Cilic had a callus on the ball of his left foot. A blister developed under the callus, and then popped. A fluid filled blister hurts and when it’s on a pressure point area of the foot, it hurts even more. Then with the fluid removed, the blister’s roof moves against the inner layer of raw skin, causing even more pain. Movement, especially when doing sudden pivots and push-offs, as required in tennis, becomes impossible. That’s it. One blister. But a blister in a vital spot – at the head of the metatarsal at the base of the large toe on the left foot can ruin your day – or your chance for the 2017 Wimbledon trophy.

In the picture you can see white stuff on the bottom of Cilic’s foot. That’s tape residue from the layers of tape they put on his foot. The residue builds up into a sticky mess and can become an irritant. Look closely and you’ll see a callus or blister just under the ball of his big toe. That’s a typical callus area too and I’d bet he had a thick callus there. Cilic mentioned fluid that came out from under the callus. Try as they could, the doctors and medics were unable to patch his foot so he could play the way he needed to play. Since his play was compromised, he ended up losing.

So what’s the lesson here?

  1. Callus buildup is bad. It’s one of my main things I talk about. Calluses. Spend the time it takes to reduce your calluses. If Cilic did not have a callus, he might not have developed a blister.
  2. Treat it right from the start. We can only speculate what treatment Cilic received. How did they lance the blister? Did they get all the fluid out? Did it refill? What did they put over the callus and blister? Did the blister extend beyond the callus? What kind of tape did they use? What did he do to his foot during the 30 hours? How many times did they try to tape it. Why didn’t they remove the tape residue?
  3. Was this a recurrence? In other words, had he had a blister in the same place before?
  4. What was the surface of his insoles like? Coarse and rough? Smooth? Did they change insoles?
  5. What kind socks was he wearing? Did he change to a different pair as the injury progressed?

What would I have done? My treatment is based on what I read through the news stories and saw in the pictures.

  1. I would have checked his insoles and if they had a rough surface, I would have replaced then with a pair that had a smoother surface.
  2. I would have put a large ENGO Blister Prevention Patch on the insole under the callus and ball of the foot. This would have reduced the friction dramatically.
  3. If the callus over the blister is rough and coarse skin, I’d file it down to remove some of the coarseness and bulk.
  4. I would have made sure there were at least three lanced holes in the blister, in spots were pressure through the foot strike would have forced fluid out. And made sure all the fluid was out.
  5. I’d put a small dab of antibiotic ointment over the blister and apply a strip of kinesiology tape over the whole ball of the book, making sure the skin was clean, with a tincture of benzoin base and an added strip of benzoin to the tapes edges.
  6. I’d then add two figure 8s from Hypafix or Coverall tape between the toes to anchor the forward edge of the kinesiology tape at the base of the toes.
  7. Finally, roll the socks on the foot to avoid pulling any edges of the tape loose.
  8. Optionally #1, If the pain was almost unbearable, I would have applied cushioned adhesive felt over the ball of the foot and then the kinesiology tape over that.
  9. Optionally #2, I would have the athlete wear a double layer sock or two light weight socks to allow for movement between the two socks layers and reduce pressure on the ball of the foot.

Over the years, I have found most doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and even podiatrists, do not know how to patch blisters on athlete’s feet in order to get them back into the race or event.

I know I was not courtside, and don’t know what Cilic’s medical people saw. But the above treatment plan is still what I would do regardless of other things. You are welcome to weigh in on what you think.

Running a Wet 100 Mile Trail Run

In less than two weeks is the running of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. I will be at the 55.7-mile Michigan Bluff aid station, along with Tonya Olson and others on the medical team. Our aim is to make sure you are healthy to continue on towards Placer High School and a good finish.

For the past six years, the mountains have been dry and the trails dusty. Feet get caked with dirt. Blisters are caused by the dust and dirt as an irritant inside shoes and socks.

2011 was the last snow year. I have looked a bit online and am unclear on snow conditions this year. But this much I am certain, there will be snow and feet will be wet. How much snow remains to be seen.

I am 100% certain that runners will have long sections of wet trail, either from the snow, snow run off, water on the trail, and stream crossings. That equals miles of running with wet feet. I’m also 100% certain that we’ll have lots of wet feet, blisters, and maceration. In fact maceration could easily be a bigger problem than blisters. Don’t forget to avoid pouring water over your head where it will run down your legs into your shoes, contributing to maceration. Lean forward rather then standing straight up.

A blister can be lanced and taped, and runners can continue without to many issues. Maceration is a different story. Once your feet are macerated – the skin shriveled like a prune, there is no quick fix.

With prolonged exposure, the skin on your feet goes through four stages as the maceration progresses to severe cracks and tears in the skin—that can be race ending. As the skin on your feet moves through the four stages, the skin folds over on itself and can crack or tear. This can be painful. Many runners come into aid stations complaining of bad blisters only to be told they don’t have any – it’s severe maceration.

I expanded the section on maceration in the 6th edition of Fixing Your Feet. Starting on page 188, are 12 pages with sections about Cold and Wet, Maceration, Trench Foot and Chilblains, Frostbite, and Snow and Ice. Included are tips and products to help with those conditions. If you have a copy, read the sections – and have you crew read them also. On page 101 is a section on High-Technology Oversocks like SealSkinz and Hanz, Serius, and eZeefit waterproof type socks. Another sock worth mentioning is ArmaSkin socks, which is used as a sock liner and fits tightly against your feet. They would be my choice for a wet race. I’d also wear gaiters to keep snow, dirt, and grit out of my shoes.

As far as skin preparation, here’s what I would do – expecting wet feet. My drop bags would have clean socks, small containers or baggies with powder to help dry wet skin, and container or tubes of any of the following: RunGoo, Trail Toes, Desitin Maximum Strength Original Paste, Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, or a strong zinc oxide paste. I’d also carry some in my hydration pack. I would apply a liberal coating of one of these from toes to up the heels and then roll my socks on. Rolling socks on will help prevent smearing and thinning the paste on areas of the feet.

Since proactive care is better than reactive, I’d check my feet at most aid stations, adding paste as necessary. If my feet were feeling bad at an aid station, I’d apply some powder to help dry the skin, and have some food while letting the powder do its job. Then apply more paste and clean socks. If your feet are badly macerated, it will take drying them, coating them with powder, and rubbing it in and letting it sit for a while, then stripping off the powder and adding more of your choice of paste. That may easily mean 15 minutes or more. If you don’t take care of macerated feet, they’ll get worse over time, requiring more care and longer time – and there may come a point when it’s irreversible in the time you have.

The time you take in aid stations does add up and it can quickly erase any time cushion you may have to finish within an allotted time. But skip quality care, rush too fast, ship hydration or eating, and you’ll pay the cost.

Remember your first line of defense should be your crew. They should know what you want for foot care and how to do it correctly. There aren’t enough medical people to take care of everyone’s feet and we may be busy with others, adding more time to your aid station visit.

Yes, as I said earlier, I will be at Michigan Bluff and Tonya and I will do our best to help you. But heed my warning. We cannot work miracles when you have failed to take care of your feet from the start. In the same way we cannot take away the pain and problems with black toenails and toe blisters caused by your not trimming your toenails, we cannot repair badly macerated feet when you have not tried steps to control the maceration.

I ran Western States in the late 80s and one thing I learned is the outcome of the race in your hands. Whether is your training, conditioning, choice of footwear, choices of food, what’s in your head, your choice of crew – lots of things affect your race. I encourage you to take the time necessary to care for your feet.

Running in Barefoot and Minimalist Shoes

May 18, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health, Sports 

Today’s post is from a website called Jen Reviews. The piece below is one part of the entire post, which focuses on running in what the author calls “barefoot shoes” or minimalist shoes. It think this is a relevant subject and of importance because many runners, and even walkers, want to learn more about and try these shoes. The article is 15 Health Benefits of Barefoot Running Shoes, According to Science (+8 Tips for Beginners).

There is a lot of valuable information in the lengthy article and we can all learn something by giving it a read. I’ve extracted a section that talks about transitioning into running in these lightweight shoes. With summer coming on, many think about getting outside more and looking at new shoes. These shoes can be helpful to many runners but many athletes have been injured by doing too much too soon, giving podiatrists extra business. Don’t be one of them. Read the section below and then check out the full article.

Here’s the excerpt, taken from tip # 4 for beginners. To me, that means beginners to either these shoes or running in general.

Gradually Transition into Using Barefoot Running Shoes Regularly

While running barefoot or with barefoot shoes can be beneficial on many levels, just because you have the option to run in barefoot shoes, doesn’t mean that you have to use them all the time (3). That is, while professional athletes use them to recover from injuries, they do not use them while they are training or during a game.

You must choose the right manner in which to use your barefoot running shoes, especially if it is your first time using them. The best way is to ease into the use of them.

Try walking indoors first, then walk outdoors. Proceed to run indoors, then run outdoors. Once running outdoors, transition from running on soft surfaces to harder ones. Doing this will allow your body’s natural shock mechanisms to build up, which will allow you run better with these shoes or barefoot in the future.

It is recommended that when switching running shoes, that you do not add more than 10% of exercise per week to your regular running routine.

For instance, during the first four weeks of using barefoot shoes, walk slowly for 30 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week. In the next 2 weeks, run briefly on a soft surface 2 to 3 times per week. You can do this exercise as a warm-up or cool down for your regular workouts.

After this time, you may then increase your barefoot running exercises on soft surfaces by 10% 2 to 3 times per week. Proceed to do this until you are able to perform 50% of your normal workouts in barefoot shoes.

Bottom Line: Though running with barefoot shoes can be beneficial to your health, you do not have to use them all the time. In fact, for those who have not used barefoot running shoes, it is best if you ease into the use of them by gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your workouts over a matter of weeks.

This is good advice for anyone thinking about these new lightweight shoes. Check out the full article at 15 Health Benefits of Barefoot Running Shoes, According to Science (+8 Tips for Beginners).

How To Buy Shoes That Don’t Hurt

March 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Foot Care, Footwear, Footwear Products, Health 

Anytime we buy shoes, we must make sure we get the best possible fit. There are more than a few tips on getting a good fit and over the years I have blogged about them and included them in every edition of Fixing Your Feet.

It’s one thing to read a list of tips. It’s quite another to see an infographic that shows in pictures and text, the same information. So in this post I am sharing an infographic courtesy of Walsh Brothers Shoes. Spend a few minutes looking at the images and reading the explanations, and then check out the Walsh Brothers Shoes website. They are located in Ireland and have a wide assortment of casual to dress shoes, boots, sandals, and more. They also have a blog that is worth reading.

If this infographic helps you understand how to find shoes that don’t hurt, you are ahead of the game. Thanks to Paula Casey from Walsh Brothers Shoes.

It may take a few clicks on the image to get the full size, so be patient. It’s worth it.

Specialized Trail Shoe from ALTRA

February 22, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products, Sports 

Years ago, most running shoes were for the road. Then trail running became popular and shoe companies took up the challenge to make trail shoes. There are now trail shoes made for those wanting a “regular” shoe, a heavily cushioned shoe, a higher top shoe, a minimalist shoe, and more.

Then events like the Spartan Race series, Tough Mudder, and a host of similar runs evolved. These races are often on dirt-loving, mud-sucking, and water filled courses. While you can run these in typical trail shoes, it can pay to have a specialized shoe.

King MT 1Altra has released the King MT, made for runners who embrace mud, rocks and burly mountain climbs. They advertise it for FKT (fastest known time) running, off-road running, peak bagging, OCR (obstacle course racing) , and fell running. I see it as a shoe also made for races like Spartan Fit. Couple this with an ankle gaiter and you have a shoe with great possibilities.

King MTThe Altra King MT features a Vibram® MegaGrip rubber outsole with 6 mm lugs designed for optimal lateral breaking, medial gripping and maximum traction in wet, loose and rocky conditions. Topping this is the Altra Ego™ midsole, a new compound with high responsiveness at a low weight. Altra built the shoe on a Fully-Cushioned Zero Drop™ platform and FootShape™ toe box. A flexible, wrap-around StoneGuard™ rock plate adds extra protection underfoot, and the one-directional friction heel lining keeps your foot securely in the shoe. The King MT has the most supportive upper of any Altra with TPU overlays, durable polyester Ripstop fabric and a Foot Lock Strap (that doubles as a lace keeper!) to lock your foot into the shoe on steep ascents and descents. The shoe has Altra’s natural foot positioning, walking form, and toe splay design. The cushioning is light and the weight is 10.2 oz / 289 grams.

King MTTry the Altra King MT shoe in water and you may have to make a few holes for drainage. If you need better drainage, heat a large nail and run it through the upper where it meets the midsole at each side of the arch and forefoot.

If you are not familiar with races like the Spartan Fit, please see my blog post What Will You Do  in 2017.

OOFOS Great New Recovery Sandals

January 28, 2017 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Footwear, Footwear Products 

Last August I attended the Outdoor Research Show in Salt Lake City. One of the displays that caught my interest was the OOFOS booth. Wow, was I impressed.

OOFOS OOrginal Sport Sandal

OOFOS OOrginal Sport Sandal

OOFOS makes a line of footwear that uses OOfoam Impact Absorption Technology, which absorbs 37% more impact than traditional foam; reduces stress on joints, feet, knees, hips, and backs; enables a more natural motion; and gives excellent arch support. They are made with a patented footbed for natural motion. Body impact is dispersed out to the sides for better recovery. Your feet move in a more natural motion than with regular sandals. These are made with recovery technology for runners, but are increasing in popularity as athletes discover the comfort and support.

Styles include the OOrginal and OOrginal Sport with the look of a flip-flop but much greater comfort and absorption.

OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide

OOFOS OOahh Sport Slide

The OOahh, OOahh Sport, and OOahh Sport Slide sandals have the wide strap over the top of the foot, without the toe post between the toes.

The OOcloog, OOcloog Luxe, and OOcloog Matte have the classic clog look, but with superior comfort and support.

The great thing about OOFOS footwear is their comfort. These are super light and weigh next to nothing. They are perfect to wear before a race to relax your feet. And even better to wear after a race or a long day hiking to allow your feet to recover with relief from the impact of traditional footwear.

If you are doing a multi-day run, hike, or adventure race, these would be my pick to pack along. Tie them to your backpack; throw them in your gearboxes, or have them in your finish line bags.

I have a pair of the OOFOS OOahh Sport sandals and love them. They have excellent arch support, and for some, this may take some getting used to. They come in normal sizes up to men’s 14 and women’s 16.

Ditch your old worn out flip-flops and or heavy sandals and check out OOFOS footwear. Your feet will thank you.

Some running stores are carrying OOFOS Sandals so check out your local store to try on a pair. If you can’t find them locally, you can order them online. Prices ranges from $45 to $60.

Ellsworth V Channel Socks

This past May, I wrote a blog post that talked about several new sock designs that had caught my attention. One of the new designs was from Ellsworth. Don Dahlgren, of Ellsworth & Company, read my post and reached out with an offer to try a pair of his socks.

Don says about his V Channel socks, “I designed the V Channel construction specifically to deal with moisture buildup inside of the shoe or boot. For years, all sock companies have tried to deal with moisture by using different fibers or yarns.  I simply didn’t feel that method went far enough. Moisture will always follow the path of least resistance to escape, thus, I created three dimensional channel construction with two elevations. One for cushioning and the other flat knit for least resistance to allow moisture to escape. Much like a rain tire disburses water from the underneath of a tire.

Ellsworth Sock Construction

Ellsworth Sock Construction

Ellsworth also says that, “The V Channels create a passageway or a “path of least resistance” for sweat to escape from under the foot. With every step, air carrying sweat vapor is forced though the V-Channels keeping the foot drier, which in turn reduces blisters and enhances performance.

Yes, that caught my eye too. Anything that potentially reduces blister formation is good – and drier is good.

I was sent a pair of the Light Hiker Quarter height socks. I use the socks running and cycling and am impressed with their performance. I like the softness and thickness of the socks and when removing the socks, notice my feet are drier to the touch. The V Channels have not compressed over time or with repeated washings. They are still doing their job of creating a channel or path to move moisture away from the skin. I wear them instead of my Smartwool socks and have found them to be warm in the cold, yet when wearing them in the summer and fall heat, my feet felt fine.

Taking their advice, I turned my pair inside out and could see the differences of thicknesses in the V Channel areas of the sock. The V Channels are actually visible from both the inside and outside. The toe is seamless, another great point,

Ellsworth V Channel socks

Ellsworth V Channel socks

and the inside is free of extra bits of yarn that can cause problems. I also like the non-slip top, or cuff, of the socks. An added bonus is the nice arch support woven into the sock with mesh instep areas on top of the foot.

My daughter also tried a pair of the same socks. She reports they fit really well and did not bunch up, and were very comfortable and soft. With other socks she noticed her feet were damp when removing the socks, but with Ellsworth, they wicked well and her feet did not feel damp.

Using fibers like wool or synthetics to move moisture away from the skin is what most socks claim to do. Ellsworth is the first sock company I am aware of that uses sock design to further enhance the work of the fibers.

On the Ellsworth website, there’s several videos worth watching. One is a dye test that shows their socks had roughly 50% more wool that remained dry then competitor socks. The other is a thermal imaging test that showed the V Channels moved moisture faster and more efficiently that others socks while also cooling faster.

Ellsworth makes the V Channel socks with merino wool, nylon and spandex – and they are made in the U.S. The socks are currently available in a Hiker, Light Hiker Crew, Light Hiker Quarter height, and Light Hiker Double Tab low cut. Prices currently range from $15 to $22 per pair. The socks come with a lifetime guarantee.

Ellsworth has spent the last four years selling their sock exclusively to the U S Military. The results and feedback have been excellent. They have been in the footwear industry for 40 years.

I give Ellsworth’s V Channel socks five stars and a big thumbs up.

I encourage you to check out Ellsworth’s V Channel socks at EllsworthAndCompany.com. I know you’ll find the socks comfortable, well cushioned, and with their unique V Channel design, your feet will be drier and in excellent condition.

I love what Pete Dahlgren, the president of Ellsworth, said in one of their blog posts, “Our passion is socks. Step in and experience that passion, and feel the difference.” The passion made the difference that led to the creation of V Channel socks.

Tread Labs Insoles – A Review

Tread Labs Insoles - deep heel cup

Tread Labs Insoles – deep heel cup

A while back I was sent a pair of Tread Labs insoles to try. Their Stride Orthotic Insoles offer the medical grade support of an orthotic with a strong deep heel cup giving biomechanical support, and a cushioned open cell polyurethane foam top for comfort. The combination arch supports and interchangeable cushioned foam tops combine for a high-quality insole that will last for miles and hold up under repeated uses.

The Stride Insoles have a 4mm cushioned top while the Stride Thin has a cushioned foam top that’s 2mm thick. The Stride Short is a half-length style designed for footwear without removable insoles and has a 2mm top.

Tread Labs cushioned foam tops

Tread Labs cushioned foam tops

The tops fit nicely into the molded hard plastic heel support, adhering to the Velcro in the support. It’s easy to remove the tops, either to substitute a different thickness top or replace a worn pair. The low-friction tops keep your feet cooler and reduce the chance of blisters. In addition, the open cell polyurethane foam lasts 5X longer than the more commonly used EVA foam in other insoles. As an added bonus, the polyester top covers feature PURE antimicrobial technology to kill 99.9% of the bacteria found on our feet. The tops can be purchased independently for when the top covers eventually wear out or you want a different thickness.

Tread Labs heel and arch support

Tread Labs heel and arch support

Going to the Tread-Labs website to look at their product line takes me to a page where I select the type of insole I am interested in: cycling, golf, hiking, running, skiing, tennis, and trail running. Each page describes a bit about why orthotics/insoles are important for that activity. Sizes for both men and women are in similar increments of 1.5-size range (i.e., 10-11.5, etc.). There are four arch heights: low, medium, high and extra high, with explanation of each type. They offer individualized help and will even send two pair – keep the one that fits and return the other.

Finding your fit involves five steps: male or female, foot size, arch height, what kinds of shoes they will be used in, and whether the shoes have a removable insole. You are then shown the best insole for your needs.

Tread Labs’ design gives users the ability to custom choose their arch type and size, and the thickness of the cushioned top.

I like these insoles for many reasons:

Tread Labs rigid deep heel cup

Tread Labs rigid deep heel cup

  1. The deep heel cups hold your heels securely. This, combined with the rigid arch support gives excellent stabilization and shock-absorption.
  2. The ability to replace just the cushioned top will save you money over the long run instead of having to purchase a whole new pair of insoles.
  3. The ability to interchange the 2mm and 4mm cushioned tops is a great benefit for athletes. As an example, in the summer, use the 4mm top with lighter weight socks and in the colder winters, change to the thinner 2mm tops to accommodate thicker warmer socks or two pair of socks. You may also want more cushion later in a long race or hike or different cushion for different running surfaces.
  4. The 2mm and 4mm tops are flat until put into the arch support. This means you could use one of these under the full insole to fill more volume in the shoe, important for multi-day races or hikes where you initially need more volume in the shoes – but later need less as your feet swell or you change to different thicknesses of socks.
  5. The four arch heights will ensure you’ll find the right one for your feet. With their customized support, you can call for help and get their advice, and even two pair to make sure you get the best one (sending the other one back).
  6. Using these insoles and holding them in my hands, I can see and feel the high quality in their design and construction.

Tread Labs orthotic insoles are guaranteed in two ways:

  • 30-day fit guarantee – Try the insoles in any of your shoes for 30 days. If they don’t improve your comfort and alignment, send them back for a full refund. Return shipping included.
  • Sure-footed warranty – Everything they sell has a lifetime warranty against defects in workmanship. Molded arch supports are unconditionally guaranteed. Forever.

These are very unique insoles and I like them a lot. Wearing Tread Labs insoles in my running shoes showed me how comfortable they are and how much support they gave in comparison to the regular flimsy stock insoles found in many of today’s shoes.

Check them out at TreadLabs.com.

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