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Article Provided byInsoles For Support & Cushioning

When you buy a car, you might decide to soup it up with extra gadgets to enhance performance or comfort. Still, you can't take one dying from old age and make it like new again.

Same goes for your shoes. What you stuff inside -- plastic supports, squishy cushions, little pillows with pockets of water, or prescriptive orthotics -- may help with comfort or ease little pains in your body brought on by improper foot biomechanics, but they won't make the shoe last two years instead of six months.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't soup up your shoes. It means you should know what those things you stick inside the shoe are really good for, how to use them, and how not to use them.

Experts say that only 10 to 20 percent of the population might benefit from doctor-prescribed and -designed orthotics. More can get the comfort they need from an over-the-counter shoe insert.

If you feel you need a little extra cushion or support for your foot, heel or arch, heed the following:

  • The shoe's original insole should be removed before you add one of your own so your foot still has room to spread.
  • Insoles you buy on drug-store shelves are built to fit as many people's foot types as possible. They might not, however, fit your foot type and might even cause more problems. Be aware.
  • Despite popular rumor, the insole you've added won't extend the life of your shoes; it'll just make them feel a little better. The shoe's midsole (the part you can't see) is what breaks down and leaves your foot gasping for support.
  • The pad you add won't make you perform better. But if it makes you feel better, you might be able to train harder, which in turn could make you perform better.
  • Avoid putting something in only one shoe since that could throw your body off-kilter and cause more pain or muscle spasms in your hips or back.

Next time you have a pain in your body, look beyond the location of the pain for a solution -- especially if localized treatment doesn't help. Back pain could mean leg-length differences; knee or shin pain could mean you need arch support.When it comes to keeping your active body moving, give your feet as much attention as that souped-up car. They're the most valuable piece of equipment you have.

Contributed By: Therese Iknoian

Therese Iknoian is an award-winning and internationally published fitness/sports journalist, has consulted on educational programs for the likes of Nike, and has written numerous books, including Mind-Body Fitness For Dummies, Tai Chi For Dummies, and Fitness Walking. She is an exercise physiologist and former nationally ranked race walker, and has partnered with her journalist-husband, Michael Hodgson, on four web sites: her own, plus,,

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