You just bought a pair of top of the line kicks, the best “supportive” shoes you could find. You paid a premium price, so it stands to reason that those shoes are going to offer a premium fit. You certainly don’t need to buy inserts to go in those shoes, right?
It’s one of the biggest misconceptions we hear regarding supportive footwear: the more expensive shoe is, the more supportive it must be.
A logical assumption, to be sure. But sadly, incorrect.
Price Doesn’t Equal Support
When we’re talking about support, we’re talking about two particular parts of the shoe. The base, or outsole, is where you keep your balance. So check out the bottom of the shoe. Is it a nice, wide profile? Or is it narrow and lightweight? The wider the base, the better the support.
The other section of the shoe to look at is the midsole, the center part of the shoe that sits on top of the rubber base. Here, you’re looking for a nice high contour that supports your medial arch.
(We go into this in more detail in our post on the Anatomy Of A Shoe.)
The thing about those sections of the shoe? They usually don’t have a huge impact on the price point. You can buy a $200 pair of shoes or a $40 pair of shoes, and you wouldn’t be able to tell the level of support by the price tag alone.
So Why Pay More For Shoes?
When you’re spending a lot of money on a pair of shoes, you’re not paying for support. You’re paying for comfort. You’re paying for style. You’re paying for the “bells and whistles.”
Now, these attributes aren’t completely insignificant. (In fact, they may be very important to you!) It’s just that they don’t really factor into support, where the rubber meets the road. Literally.
When you’re paying the buck bucks for a pair of shoes, you’re usually paying for things like:
Running shoes, in particular, love their proprietary shock absorption technologies. Some shoe companies use gel. Some use air. Some use specially formulated foam products.
Regardless, they are usually brand specific. And proprietary technology equals proprietary prices.
When you’re wearing a performance athletic shoe, shock absorption can be a huge factor in deciding which shoe is right for you… just don’t make the mistake of thinking that great shock absorption means great support. You can still have poor alignment and weight distribution issues.
High End Uppers
Price point is largely dictated by the part of the shoe that goes over and around your foot-- the upper.
It makes sense, to a point. A huge amount of a shoe’s fit, and most of its style, is determined by the upper.
If it’s a dress shoe, the upper could be high end leather. An athletic shoe might be a high quality mesh with great breathability. Lightweight overlays with less stitching can contribute to a high end look and feel, and help your feet feel breezy and comfortable.
Just remember, the stuff that’s on top of your foot doesn’t make a big impact on support! Don’t forget to check for stability and arch support if you find a style of upper you love, and make sure it will work for your foot type.
Thermoplastic Pieces In Midsole
Okay, so this one is the exception to the rule. Sometimes a shoe’s price can be impacted by thermoplastic pieces in the midsole that can help with arch support and weight distribution.
Finally, a high end feature that enhances support! If you love a pair of shoes that have these enhanced support measures, it may be a great choice.
However, you don’t need to worry if you’re on a budget: there are more affordable options out there that are just as supportive.
Support At All Prices
So regardless of your price point, you will be able to find a shoe that can keep you in alignment and help prevent injury and fatigue.
But if you buy a pair of shoes and that need extra support, do not despair: look to a supportive insole!
Orange Insoles offer a range of sizes to fit most any style (and price) of shoe. With thermoplastic components, medial arch support, a heel cup, and a metatarsal pad, Orange Insoles can help keep your lower extremities in check, no matter how much you dropped on your last pair of shoes.