AS a man with a lifelong habit of slouching that no amount of nagging from friends and family has been able to fix, I am always willing to try anything that might help me stand a little straighter writes Steve Tyler.
Step forward SOLE’s custom footbeds. Although not specifically aimed at serial slouchers, the orthotics are claimed to help improve natural motion, enhance balance and reduce the ill effects of poor pressure distribution.
I took delivery of a pair of the company’s insulated response footbeds to see if slipping a new pair of insoles into my shoes would make any inroads into improving my posture.
The “insulated” part of the orthotics’ title refers to the 3M Thinsulate insulation built into each pair and the manufacturer recommends them for use in everything from hiking shoes to ski and snowboard boots.
I opted to try them out in a regular pair of boots and set about following the easy fitting instructions. A handy feature of the SOLE footbeds is their ability to be molded by either heating them in an oven or simply by wearing them.
Going with the former approach, I placed the footbeds into the oven for a couple of minutes before inserting them in my boots and standing on them for a further minute. Aside from the nice feeling of warmth, the immediately noticeable thing was how upright I felt. The footbeds lifted my arches and forced me to stand in a much more “correct” manner.
Over the week of my field test, I wore the SOLE-equipped boots on my daily commute to work and for a weekend walk through a forest. Initially it felt quite strange as I seemed so much taller than I remembered, but given the footbeds’ slim profile this must have been as a result of an improved posture.
I found that it does take a bit of getting used to the way the insoles support your feet and actually considered removing them after my first walk, but patience proved to be a virtue as by the third day of having them fitted I couldn’t really remember what it felt like to walk without them.
As a keen runner, I was especially interested in SOLE’s claim that the footbeds can reduce plantar fascia strain. As anyone who has been hit with the pain of plantar fasciitis can confirm, this feature could be a Godsend.
I decided not to place the insoles into my trainers, but I did go for a 10km trail run at the end of my week-long trial to see if I noticed any difference in my gait. Although it is fairly unscientific, I definitely felt more springy and able to run on the balls of my feet so wearing SOLE footbeds may be a good bet for any aspiring athletes.
Ultimately, there is no doubt that wearing the footbeds improved my posture and made something as mundane as walking much more comfortable. £45 a pair might sound like a lot to spend on shoe inserts, but for the benefits they provide it is a price worth paying.