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Arch Support: Do You Really Need It?

“Do your shoes have arch support?  And do I even need arch support?”  This question comes to us often, especially from those customers who are looking to make the transition to minimalist footwear.  Similar to most minimalist shoes, our sneakers have very little in the way of arch support.  For SOM, part of being barefoot inspired means allowing feet to stand in shoes as they would barefoot—and when you are barefoot, you have nothing propping up the arch of your foot; rather that arch is supported in other ways.

Arch Support at the basePhoto by Palacemusic via Wikipedia Commons

Dr. Ray McClanahan of Northwest Foot and Ankle describes arch support a bit differently than how most of us are used to.  He compares the arch of the foot to an architectural archway.  These arches do require support, yes, but not under the arch to hold it up like many shoes do.  They require good, strong bases at either end that give the support to the entire arch.

Much of today’s footwear uses extra padding in the arch as support rather that strengthening the bases of our arch.  And without good foundations at the ends of the arches, we can come to rely on that interior support.  The natural footbed in SOMs provides the same foundation to the ends of that arch as standing barefoot does, letting your foot naturally learn to support its own arch.

Now we are not discounting arch support by any means!  Your feet may feel that they need more support along the arch than what our shoes provide, especially at the beginning of transitioning to minimalist footwear, and that is fine! 

Removable SOM insolesRemovable SOM insoles

When we created the footbed of SOMs, we made sure to keep our insoles removable and therefore changeable.  Customers can replace our insoles with ones that better fit the needs of their feet.  Feel that you need a bit more cushion that your typical barefoot shoe?  Add in a softer insole.  Prefer to support your arch differently?  Replace them with a more structured insole.  Working with orthotics? SOMs are able to accommodate a large number of orthotic inserts. 

The best part isn’t just SOMs adaptability to different foot situations, but the fact that as your own feet shift in their needs, so can your SOMs.  When you have a shoe with a strong arch support in a fixed location, that shoe either fits your foot perfectly or not at all.  When you can remove the insoles and replace them, you can adjust your footwear to better meet what your feet are telling you they need. 

This is especially useful when transitioning to more minimalist footwear.  Initially you may want to have more padding underfoot but in a couple of months feel more comfortable being closer to the ground. Your feet may feel that need for traditional arch support initially and slowly change once your feet have a good foundation. Having shoes that are versatile enough to transition with you can be really helpful (and keep your wardrobe costs down!).

Arch Support

 


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