Women too often let their feet suffer for fashion, which may help explain why they report foot pain far more often than men. In a 2001 online survey conducted by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 80 percent of the women responding reported foot problems mainly due to their shoes. Thankfully, there's a slew of inexpensive over-the-counter insoles designed specifically for women that can effectively ease foot pain, making your boots—or heels, sandals, or slippers—comfortable again for walking.

"Companies that manufacture insoles have finally recognized that women's feet aren't just smaller versions of men's," says Crystal Holmes, DPM, podiatrist and clinical instructor at the University of Michigan Medical School. "Our stride is significantly different, and we have narrower heels and tighter Achilles tendons."

You'll see a lot of claims on a package of drugstore insoles, but primarily they provide shock absorption, says Holmes. She likes Foot Petals inserts for women who wear pumps. "Heels put a lot of pressure on the ball of the foot. The technology in Foot Petals helps redistribute that weight." For exercising, Holmes suggests trying out the Spenco brand, which offers different models for running, hiking, and everyday use.

"The insoles are worth a try," says Holmes. "The worst that can happen is that you spend 20 bucks and realize something serious is going on and that it's time to see a podiatrist."
As a reminder, always consult your doctor for medical advice and treatment before starting any program.


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