Should you consider insole length when selecting your orthotics? Yes, absolutely. There are cases where your insoles should be full length and other cases where they shouldn’t.
The information in this article is for those who are new to purchasing insoles and orthotics and want to know what’s important before they proceed forward with a purchase.
There are two conditions to pay attention to that determine your choice of insole length:
1. The height of the toe box in the shoe.
2. How tight-fitting are the shoes or boots?
Every pair of shoes in your closet really has to be considered on its own when you’re purchasing orthotics. You can do this: separate your shoes into two piles – those that have a high toe box and those that don’t.
When shoes have a high toe box, you can use orthotics that have an insole length equal to your shoe insole. If the shoes don’t have a high toe box, the insole length that is best is the ¾ length insole.
You might have a wide and tall toe box in some of the shoes in your closet, and the next step is to separate the shoes once again into those that are tight fitting and those that are not. Do this with both piles of shoes.
The shoes that are tight-fitting need insoles or orthotics with an insole length of three-quarters, not a full length insole. If you put a full-length insole in tight fitting shoes or boots, then what happens is that you run the risk of rubbing your toes against the top of the shoe or boot. Once the rubbing continues, the friction causes blisters. The compression of the toes can also cause ‘scrunched-up toes’ which can lead to hammertoes.
When considering which of your shoes or boots are tight-fitting, pay special attention to those you use for sporting activities. For example, ski boots and snowboarding boots are usually quite tight-fitting, as it’s important to prevent too much movement of the foot and ankle during your downhill descents.
Dress shoes are also sometimes tight-fitting shoes, especially women’s dress shoes that may have a design that is cut low across the toes. Full-length insoles in these shoes will never work; however, the three-quarters length insoles are perfect because they end in the forefoot region and this allows the toes to be in the same comfortable position that occurs with the original shoe insoles. Some orthotics and insoles manufacturers have designed their products specifically for tight-fitting shoes although you may not see a label on them such as tight-fitting shoes insoles.
High-heeled shoes are another type of shoe that may benefit if you use a three-quarter insole length. When you are wearing high heels, your body ergonomics is vastly different than when you don’t wear them. For example, your weight is distributed more forward and it’s as if you are ‘dancing’ on the balls of your feet.
The three-quarters insoles length might also appropriately include a metatarsal pad to make each step on the ball of the foot more comfortable. And by the way, if the three-quarter insole length also had a deep heel cup, your feet would feel even better in your high heels.
One excellent pair of three-quarters insole length are Spenco Orthotic ¾ Length Arch Support Insoles. These not only consider the two above-mentioned factors but also include an arch support.