Sunday, December 18, 2011

Inserts: A discussion of comfort and fit

High heels are uncomfortable. That's just the way it is. Sure, some are better than others, and some downright hurt, but it's all just varying degrees of discomfort. A few rare pairs are truly 'comfortable' in the sense that you can wear them from when you get up to when you go to bed, but your feet will still bug you. In this context, I really don't like heels. I can walk in them, wear them for 16-18 hours straight, and even run in them in a pinch, but the fact is, they suck. If you don't believe me, go put on your most comfortable heel on one foot and either a running shoe or an Ugg on the other. Go on...I'll wait. Am I right? Exactly.

Foot Petals inserts
Now, all that being said, I will not give up my heels. I like them more than they like me. Much more. So much more that I have searched high and low for various ways to make them less painful. About a year ago now, I discovered foam inserts, specifically the Foot Petals brand. Though, the brand is not the important part - generics and other brands are readily available at Target, DSW, and various online retailers. The important part is the material they're made of and the shape of the insert itself. I avoid the gel style inserts like the plague. In heels, they do nothing but cause my foot to sweat and make my foot slide around. No bueno. So, I use only foam style inserts. I primarily use three different types - the ball-of-foot insert, the full insert, and the heel grip. These each solve specific problems.

Ball-of-foot insert in a shoe.
In ALL my heels - Every. Single. Pair. - you will find a ball of foot insert. These are mainly to pad the part of your foot with the most pressure and stress - and the comfort difference must be felt to be believed. There are a couple of other advantages to these particular inserts too. The keep you from sliding forward in your shoes, which is HUGE when wearing peep toes. But the biggest advantage, at least for my super narrow foot, is that they help you fill out the shoe just enough that it can make a too wide pair, or slightly too long pair fit like a dream. The advantages of these inserts are so great that I literally buy them in bulk. I'm not partial to the Foot Petals brand on these, but they turn out the cheapest when Amazon or HSN runs them on sale. I just bought 27 pairs of these. Hopefully I'll get a month or so out of that supply. hehe

Foot Petals Killer Kushionz in a shoe
In some heels, a simple ball of foot insert just doesn't do the trick and I need either more cushion, or need to raise my heel up in the back of the shoe. There are heel only inserts for this, but I personally don't like them. What I wear instead are full inserts. In these, I AM partial to the Foot Petals Killer Kushionz. They are the only ones I've found that also properly pad the ball of foot as well as the heel. The only time I wear these though is when I've got a pair of shoes that the back just hits too high on my heel and makes it hard to walk. They lift me up in the shoe just a hair and usually defeat that issue. I've only got this style in a few pairs, but they have made many otherwise unwearable shoes tolerable.

Heel grip
The insert of last resort for me is the heel grip. I will try the first two before I go to the heel grip style. I just don't like the way they feet against the back of my foot, honestly. BUT, they are lifesavers in brands that simply don't fit me in their sizing. I don't have these in many shoes, because the ball of foot or full insoles will solve most problems. I've also found that cutting these in half lengthwise helps them feel better. If you absolutely love a pair of shoes and they just keep slipping, then these are your inserts.

There are also other types of inserts that are immensely useful. There little grip strips that help keep sandals and straps from rubbing wrong. They are also good for when a shoe just rubs oddly in a certain area. You can cut one to fit the area you need. Moleskin is hugely helpful for rubs also, and you can get the padded style and make your own inserts. Don't worry, it's not made of real moles. At least I hope not. I get my moleskin at Walgreens in the same area that they have shoe polish.

Clear sole protector on pink sole
Sole protectors aren't exactly inserts, but are made by the same companies that make inserts, so they deserve a mention. They typically come in clear or black. These help with sole grip on slippery shoes and protect colored or designed soles, which is the current trend. (Thank you, Louboutin). For these, I either use the Foot Petals Sole Stopperz or their Fab Feet brand at Target. I do not like the ones from DSW. They get gummy after wearing them for a while and tend to let things stick to them.

As for pricing - I've discovered that Amazon is the cheapest on most of these in both name brand and generic. The exception is when HSN runs their "Perfect 10" set on sale for $20. That's 6 sets of ball of foot inserts and 4 sets of heel grips. It's a helluva deal. If you're new to inserts, I recommend starting with the ball of foot insert and go from there. There are combo packs that you can get that are basically sampler packs with one pair of each type, but apparently these retailers think they're made of friggin' gold because they're outrageously expensive. Feel free to try the gel ones, but I've not met anyone that they work for and often make the situation worse.

Before I discovered inserts, I wore heels to work once or twice a week and had maybe 25 pairs of them. Since I've discovered inserts, I wear heels (really high ones usually) seven days a week and refuse to count how many pairs I have now. $3-$10ish per pair has made me love shoes all that much more. It really does make that much of a difference.

1 comment:

  1. Wowwww...what a great blog! Great info, gives me hope or scares I will be able to wear these really high heels, comfortably!