Dr. Tom Lembo, Podiatrist and Arch Support Guru, Gives Comfort Tips for Fallen Arch Sufferers.
1. Don't rely on old shoes to give your arches the support they need. "This is SO common it has to be #1. Flat feet that overpronate wear out shoes dramatically faster. Shoes, particularly running sneakers, have WAY less of a life expectancy than you think. If in doubt, chuck them and replace them."
2. Never buy sandals or shoes out of a bucket. "Have you seen these buckets when you're on vacation? You know, the ones full of the organic hempy slip ons, or cute pink flowered sandals? Chances are your going to be walking ALOT on your trip, please don't do it with your new bucket sandals. You'll be keeping your podiatrist busy when you get home."
3. ....and let's not forget the popular winter boots. "The pair of "insert name of popular fleece-lined sheep skin boots we can't mention by name legally" you have are wonderfully comfortable for casual use. If you have fallen arches, they aren't for walking theme parks. They aren't for walking the mall. They aren't for wearing from sun up to sun down between the months of December to April. Sorry. They're not. Chances are your feet have told you this already, have you been listening?"
4. Don't overindulge in impact activity. "I understand it's easy to run for exercise, and it's winter, and you have that treadmill you got from the local Mega-sports store in your basement. Think you're going to erase all the eating sins of the holidays with one 10 mile run? Nope. You're going to give yourself shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Impact exercise (treadmill running) needs to be alternated with low impact exercise (biking, elliptical, yoga) to keep flat feet pain away."
5. Orthotic Insoles are your friend (if you can find the right ones). "Most drug store insoles (the colored foam ones with a thin plastic piece glued to the outside) usually don't provide much support. Custom orthotics can be great, but are only useful and comfortable for a vast minority of people. Their are a few brands somewhere in between this, but they usually have "approximate sizing", requiring origami-like trimming to get them in your shoes. Make sure whatever you buy has a liberal return policy so you're not stuck with something that's uncomfortable."
Dr. Lembo says common sense can go a long way when it comes to living with flat feet.
His company, Samurai Insoles, is constantly working to develop products for people with flat feet, so they can get back to the activities they love, or simply come home from work everyday without limping.
Is there a person with flat feet who hasn't had one of those days when their feet have simply said, "Enough!"?
"The whole idea that people can make the right decisions about their feet, as long as you give them the information they need, that's what it's all about," said Dr. Lembo, a podiatrist who's been treating people with fallen arches for almost 20 years.
Dr.Lembo founded Samurai Insoles in 2013, and he says the response has been overwhelming. "When we designed Samurai Insoles, we were simply creating something for patients in my office that had no other alternative for relief of their flat feet. They became so popular, we actually couldn't make them fast enough in the beginning. We've had thousands of happy users since then, it's really something."
It was important for Dr. Lembo to design a product that took all of the guess-work out of achieving comfort. "When we started designing, every manufacturer we approached insisted that we have approximate sizing for our insoles, like everyone else out there. It makes it so much easier to stock and ship something when you have only 4 or 5 choices of size from a company standpoint. Then they make the customer chop up their new insoles to get them jammed into their shoes!"
After an exhaustive search, Samurai Insoles found the home they were looking for. "We finally found a
wonderful orthotic laboratory, right in the US, that told us they could do what we needed. Now we have 13 sizes of Samurai Insoles available. 13! This insures that anyone that needs them will get the exact fit they need. In our industry that's practically unheard of."
Samurai Insoles are specifically designed for people with flat feet, says Dr. Lembo. This makes them especially unique. "Many people with flat feet can't tolerate custom orthotics because they're just too rigid to be comfortable. On the flip side most drug store insoles, or the one's you step on the fancy machine for, just aren't enough support. We needed something somewhere in the middle, and we've definitely achieved that. At least our customers say so!"
Flat feet commonly exhibit something called "overpronation", which describes the over flattening of the foot's arch when standing or when the foot hits the ground when walking. Samurai Insoles addresses this issue with a different approach, says Dr. Lembo. "Many orthotics aim to control overpronation, but they usually restrict it WAY too much. Your foot needs normal pronation for shock absorption. So when it's restricted too much, it's really uncomfortable for your feet, as well as your knees and back. On top of that, people with really flexible flat feet like mine often can't tolerate that type of device."
What makes Samurai Insoles different is a piece of technology that isn't apparent at first, making them deceptively simple looking. "We use a unique orthotic shell, and we've tucked it away in a comfy padded envelope of material. It's really our secret weapon. Our orthotic shell decelerates overpronation, instead of blocking it. So, it flexes and springs back as you're walking. It's like having a spotter for a weight lifter, just enough comfortable support for your foot to get the job done."
It turns out, Dr. Lembo is no stranger to flat feet discomfort either. Even before he became a podiatrist, he dealt with this issue himself. "I still remember what it felt like to be confused and overwhelmed by all the choices out there. That's a lousy feeling. You're just spending and spending, trying to find the right thing, but it always seems just out of reach," he says.
"One of the greatest things about designing Samurai Insoles is that now I get to use them too. And my parents. And many of my relatives. Did I mention flat feet are hereditary? We're a flat-footed family for sure!"