Today I want to talk about orthotic insoles for your shoes. The reason I love orthotic insoles is because I personally wear my shoe inserts everyday of my life. I was recommended to wear orthotic insoles for a chronic intermittent lower back pain I would experience from time to time since my teenage years.
To help manage the lower back pain episodes and to try keep them away I thought I needed to try and use orthotic insoles in my shoes to try help prevent another lower back pain episode. So I thought today I would tell you a little more of my personal journey in wearing orthotic insoles to help manage lower back pain.
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Inner Soles For Shoes
In the world of orthotics for shoes you get tons of different companies who make both off the shelf insoles or custom made orthotic insoles for your shoes.
I started with the generic orthotics for shoes ones made by German company Birkenstock, then I used custom made TOG orthotics and now I’m using a pair of Foot Levelers spinal pelvic stabilisers. So first my beginning with Birkenstock.
Now I still love the Birkenstock insole and Birkenstock shoes. When I have a patient looking for a generally reliable off the shelf orthotic insole I do still recommend the Birkenstock insole. What I found to be the nice thing about the Birkenstock insole is that it is a 3/4 length, easily inserted orthotic insole that gave a comfortable arch support in all my shoes. The Birkenstock shoe comes with a generic orthotic insole built in and they too are comfortable. I also found that the Birkenstock insole didn’t push my foot up too high causing discomfort where the shoe laces are. After a few years only using Birkenstock insoles, I wanted to move on and up into the custom made orthotic insoles category. That is when I was introduced first to TOG orthotics.
TOG stands for “The Orthotic Group” and whilst I was still a Chiropractic student at the Anglo-European College of Chiropractic I had a foot arch scan done on the TOG GaitScan™ system. The difference here from Birkenstock was with Birkenstock all I needed to say to a sales assistant in the shop was what was my shoe size. Now with TOG I got to see in real time on a laptop what my feet looked like when I walked over the pressure sensitive matt on the floor. It was amazing to see where I put different amounts of pressure through the arches in my feet. So I thought great let me get a pair of TOG orthotics and test what it’s like to wear a pair of custom made insoles for my shoes. I decided to go with the full length version so there was no slide effect in my shoes at al,l which could happen with the Birkenstock insole.
When I first got my TOG orthotics I noticed how the heel area had been shaped to compensate for my abnormal heel movement I was doing whilst walking. I also saw the the inside arch or pronation arch area seemed a bit higher than the Birkenstock pair. The material used too was different with TOG using a semi-flexible plastic type material compared to the fibrous material of Birkenstock. I wore my TOG orthotics for 4-5 years with occasional times reverting to the Birkenstock insole mainly for shoes that were a bit tighter like smart evening shoes. I must admit that I was still experiencing the 1 or 2 yearly episode of severe locked lower back pain, which was better than previous years of the 4-5 episodes in a year. So I knew something positive was happening and my lower back was enjoying having better foot arch control. Then whilst on a Chiropractic conference in the USA I came across Foot Levelers. That then moves me onto the current orthotic insoles I personally use everyday of my life.
Foot Levelers: Spinal Pelvic Stabilizers
I will let you know now that I am a big fan of the Foot Levelers insoles range. So far in my use of orthotic insoles for my shoes personal story, I had been using Birkenstock insoles and TOG orthotics. The biggest difference between these and my Foot Levelers pair is the hard vs soft orthotic insole debate. Foot Levelers insoles are much softer than Birkenstock and TOG. For me that helps provide more comfort and improvement in my lower back. The other big difference that I had never had before was a lateral arch support (outer foot arch support). Birkenstock and TOG both had inner (medial) arch support and heel support with either a heel wedge or heel cup.
Now with my pair of Foot Levelers orthotic insoles I have 3 points of support for my foot’s arches. So now for the first time in my orthotic insoles journey all 3 arches of each foot are being supported by custom made shoe inserts. Foot Levelers like to term their orthotic insoles as ‘spinal pelvic stabilisers’ and in the begging I thought ok, but what’s the difference. Well after seeing how different a pair from Foot Levelers look compared to Birkenstock and TOG, and how I feel after wearing them everyday for over 2 years now. I also see them as spinal pelvic stabilisers rather than orthotic insoles.
The Bottom Line
So having been a chronic lower back pain sufferer since my teenage years I have now not had a single debilitating lower back pain episode in well over 4 years. I would say that when it comes to managing my lower back I need a combination of chiropractic spinal manipulation, rehab exercises to strengthen and balance my core posture, good sleep support and definitely my orthotic insoles. I hope this helps you in understanding orthotic insoles a bit more.