Bringing Balance To Your Feet: Footbalance Custom Insoles.- by Grannygear
At Interbike, we were invited to come by the Footbalance booth and get fitted for a set of custom insoles. It was something that peaked my interest as I struggle with numb feet during a longer, harder ride. I did not know if this would be a solution, but I was ready to give it a shot. To look at the raison d’etre for Footbalance’s inserts is they seek to correct for foot misalignment and how that affects our body’s performance. Two words here…Supination and Pronation. Look them up. Both are terms that relate to the mechanics of our foot/ankle as we walk or run. If we all did that perfectly, there would be less need for a corrective measure like the Footbalance insoles. But since we are way less than perfect as a species, many people either over-pronate or over-supinate. We either roll our feet inward or outwards, to simplify things perhaps a bit too much, and that affects not just our feet, but the alignment of our entire body.
So I went through the process and had a set of the Performance footbeds molded to my feet by a trained technician. I stood on a glass screen and had a ‘picture’ taken of my foot shape as I stood erect and stood with bent knees, etc. That image was used to determine whether or not I had any issues such as over-one thing or another. It turns out that I am both Neutral and have a Normal Medial Arch. So I am not rolling my foot to either side excessively and my arch is well formed…no flat feet or high arch. So since I am not a problem child, what would I gain from having a custom footbed made?
Well, maybe not a lot, but while I may not have bio-mechanical issues now, as I age and time takes its toll, I may develop them later and having correct support in my shoes could help keep me healthy in that sense. The insoles were fed into the heating device so they could be shaped, and I stood one foot at a time on a cushy pillow thing as the tech molded the insoles to my feet one at a time. The process was quite easy and quick and off I went with a set of still cooling insoles to try later.
I installed them into two pairs of shoes so far, both of them Specialized models, a shoe that already has a very decent insole. I noticed an immediate increase in arch support compared to the basic Body Geometry insoles that come with the shoe. Specialized offers more aggressive insoles as an aftermarket option. The first shoe was an S Works model that is plenty stiff in the footbed and fits me well. Over the course of a few rides I did not notice any remarkable improvements, but they were easier rides that were not stressing my feet a great deal. So I went on another ride, one that is a real grinder on the single speed and I ran a different shoe, the Specialized Rime, It is not as stiff as the S Works shoe, but it is still quite good in that regard. Before the 2.5 hour ride was done, I was struggling with some numbness issues in my feet at the toes and front of the foot, something that is typical for me.
Two days later I did the same ride, this time with the Footbalance insoles, and I actually extended the ride distance a bit for even more punishment. I still had some numbness issues, but it was lessened quite a bit. The jury is still out on this, but it was better under the same, if not a more stressful ride. Footbalance has a pretty wide line of these inserts and they vary in stiffness and cushion level. I did notice that I was feeling a bit of pressure at the ball of the foot that I did not feel with the Specialized inserts. It was like I should have more cushion or padding there. As well, the Specialized BG footbeds have the metatarsal button that is supposed to help keep your feet happier so perhaps I missed having that.
In the end, I found out I was ‘normal and neutral’ and likely did not need anything corrective. But some support seems to work well for me and I think I might have been just as well off with a more aggressive version of the Specialized BG footbed. However, everyone is different and for $79.99, if you are struggling with bio-mechanical issues during exercise, even at the knees or more remote parts of the body, it may be coming from that first point of contact with the ground, your feet, and Footbalance may have a solution for you.
For a store near you that can assess your needs and get you fit-up, see the Footbalance website.
Note: Footbalance provided the footbeds for test and review at no charge to Twenty Nine Inches. We are not being bribed, nor paid to do this review. We will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.