Finnish company Footbalance offers custom insoles that are individually molded to your feet on the basis of a computer-aided foot analysis. Focusing on your arches, Footbalance custom insoles properly support your feet to prevent either overpronation or supination, and help improve overall body alignment. At the OutDoor Show in Germany earlier this summer, I had my own pair of custom insoles made and was pleasantly surprised at the results.
The foot analysis begins by standing on a podoscope where your arches are analyzed. The test focuses on both your medial arch as well as your transverse arch. The medial arch impacts the amount of shock absorption in your feet and overall body alignment, where the transverse arch affects forefoot issues such as bunions and numbness or pain.
Pictures are then taken of your ankles to help assess your alignment and decide whether you are prone to overpronate or supinate. I was surprised to find out I am an overpronator. I have always thought I tended to supinate, as the outside heel on all my shoes wears down first. This may have changed over the years as my arches have gradually fallen, since the test indicated I needed both medial and transverse arch support.
Whether you supinate or overpronate doesn't matter much, as the custom insoles are molded to compensate for your arch issues and keep your foot in a neutral position. Footbalance believes that your foot is in its most neutral state when you raise your heel off the ground and shift weight onto the ball of your foot.
Footbalance offers numerous types of insoles depending on your planned activity, from casual wear to high impact running or extra warmth for skiing. Your chosen insole is heated, then molded directly to your foot, taking care to ensure full arch support in the neutral position.
Much like barefoot running, Footbalance recommends you progressively ease into wearing your custom insoles all day for every activity, as your body will take time to adjust to the changes in alignment. I was dumb enough to wear my newly made Footbalance insoles for the rest of the OutDoor Show and my lower body was aching by the end of the day.
Since then, I have been wearing my custom insoles for everything from just walking around during the day to hiking, trail running, and cycling. I have always had a problem with numb toes after hiking or wearing my climbing boots and now I realize why- I needed transverse arch support. After wearing the Footbalance insoles, I have much less of a problem with numb toes.
Probably the biggest difference for me was with knee pain. I have been experiencing pain in my left knee for quite awhile now, so much so that I went for a bike fitting, thinking that cycling was the problem, but with no relief. I can not say for certain the two are linked, but when wearing my Footbalance insoles, my knee pain is now gone.
Bottom Line: In general, I believe it is important to look after your feet, as they are the support foundation for almost everything you do outdoors. Since the test takes only 10 minutes, it is worth having your feet analyzed and trying some Footbalance custom insoles to see how much better the added arch support makes you feel and ultimately perform.
Head to the Footbalance website to find a local store across both North America and Europe that can run the test and create custom insoles for you.