Just as we might cup our hands to shield a flame from a draft or to gently cradle a tiny kitten, so do heel cups provide protection and comfort.
Heel cups provide shock absorption for people with heel pain that is especially agonizing when the heel strikes the ground.
Heel pain is the most common kind of foot pain and often a symptom of heel spurs or plantar fasciitis. It often hurts worst in the morning, before the foot is warmed up and the muscles stretched.
You can get heel cups by themselves as shoe inserts or incorporated into full-length insoles.
Some Cups Promise More – Here’s What to Know
Heel cups can go further than simply promising cushion and shock absorption. In fact, there are corrective heel cups that a person can wear either for pronounced over-pronation (foot rolling inward) or supination (under-pronation, or foot rolling outward). The purpose of the heel cups is to elevate one side of the heel to correct foot posture and gait, which is often connected to how high or low the arch is. Correction often reduces pain.
Here’s what the Podiatry Institute has to say about the connection between heel pain and flat feet:
Heel spurs and heel pain typically occur in people with flat feet. As the arch starts to collapse, the band of ligament and the muscle in the bottom of the foot absorbs the impact of pressure from standing or walking. Eventually, it stretches beyond its limits, leading to possible muscle tears and bone spurs.
As you can see, this is a classic domino effect and if you trace back the fallen dominoes, you find the first one was “flat feet” causing all the trouble that came after.
The flat-feet-and-heel-pain rule is not absolute, though. Keep in mind:
- The cause of heel pain doesn’t always mean you have a low arch or flat feet. Sometimes the lead domino might be “high arches or “very tight calf muscles.”
- Flat feet (or for that matter, high arches) sometimes need correction, but not always.
Before you buy orthotics – including heel cups – to correct foot orientation or movement, it’s a good idea to know exactly your diagnosis. If you try to fix the wrong problem, you won’t get rid of your pain and you may even make it worse.
That being said, the right orthotic might even help reduce other pain, such as back pain, that you didn’t even know was connected to your feet!
There’s More You Can Do
Taking care of yourself can help prevent or minimize foot pain:
- Select good-fitting shoes that feel most comfortable to you.
- Warm up properly for activities.
- Wear the right shoes for what you’re going to do for the day. For example, choose a shorter heel if you know you’ll be on your feet more than usual.
Cup your health in your hands. You will achieve protection, comfort and well-being for your feet by teaming good habits together with great products.