The best foot pads can improve your foot function, rehabilitate your foot, and reduce your foot pain. Not all foot pads are created equal, however; pads that immobilize your feet, holding them rigidly in place, can have detrimental effects on your feet and can unfavorably alter the structural arrangement and tone of your foot tissues, including your toes. Consider choosing foot pads that are flexible and durable and that support your foot in a natural way. Here is a closer look at some of the best foot pads for natural foot health:
Toe Spacing Pads
Your feet should be at their widest at the ends of your toes, not at the ball of your foot. In people who have gone barefoot or who have worn minimalist footwear most of their lives—which is common in many parts of the world, including Africa, Asia, and South and Central America—feet are widest at the ends of their toes, and their toes are evenly spaced and splayed widely. This is a foot structure similar to that of newborns, who haven't yet had their feet molded and sculpted by shoes featuring tapering toe boxes and other problematic design features. You can use toe spacing pads, such as Correct Toes, to combat the deforming effects of conventional footwear and to help realign your toes to the position that nature intended. Restoring your big toe, so that it's in line with the inside edge of your foot, is particularly helpful in preventing a variety of conditions, such as bunions, hammertoes, neuromas, plantar fasciosis, and shin splints. Correct Toes toe spacing pads, which can be worn under a conventional sock, over a pair of toe socks, or within men's or women's shoes featuring a sufficiently wide toe box, are constructed of medical-grade silicone and come in various sizes to suit your unique feet.
Wearing conventional shoes (i.e., shoes with elevated heels, tapering toe boxes, and built-in toe spring) contributes to foot problems such as hammertoes and a forward displacement of the fat pad that usually resides under your forefoot (Note: The forefoot fat pad is intended to support your metatarsal bones at the point where they contact the ground). Metatarsal pads are used to help spread your transverse foot arch (the arch behind the ball of your foot that runs across the width of your foot), promote the return of any overextended toes to their normal anatomical position, and encourage the return of your forefoot fat pad to a place that supports your metatarsal heads. In other words, metatarsal pads help properly realign your metatarsal heads and the fat pad that’s underneath them. This, in turn, can help straighten and realign your toes, especially when metatarsal pads are used in conjunction with a toe-spacing product such as Correct Toes. There are two main types of metatarsal pads: Stationary and mobile. Stationary metatarsal pads have an adhesive backing and are permanently fixed inside your shoes, whereas mobile metatarsal pads are worn on your feet and can be used in all of your footwear. Both types of metatarsal pads function in the same way, and so which one you use is simply a matter of personal preference.
Heel pads, also known as heel cups, can be used in all types of footwear to help cradle and protect your heel from pain and the shock forces that sometimes occur with weight-bearing activity (e.g., running, walking, and standing). The patented, multi-layer waffle design of these supportive, yet flexible heel pads allows your heel to rotate with the regular motion of your foot during gait, cushioning sensitive structures on the bottom of your heel. Heel pads help reduce Achilles tendon pressure, promote greater flexibility in your Achilles tendon, and can be helpful in treating or preventing heel bursitis and shin splints. These lightweight heel pads can also be helpful for individuals transitioning from conventional footwear to minimalist (or “minimalist-like”) shoes who develop point pain in the heel, or for an elderly individual who has lost some of his or her calcaneal fat pad (the cushion that protects your calcaneus, or heel bone).
Corns, Calluses and blisters are three common skin problems that can affect your feet. A simple way to eliminate or reduce pressure on your corns, calluses, or blisters is to place a little gauze or absorbent cotton over your affected area, then cover it with a thin moleskin pad. It's best to remove this covering every night, as well as when you bathe or shower, so that your skin can breathe and excessive moisture does not accumulate under your pad. When you remove your moleskin pad, hold your surrounding skin taut as you slowly pull the pad away from your corn, callus, or blister. If your moleskin pad is situated on your sole, pull the moleskin back toward your heel, otherwise you risk tearing your skin when you pull in the opposite direction. Moleskin pads are economical, easy to apply, can be cut to your exact needs and specifications, and do an excellent job in relieving painful corns, calluses, blisters, and shoe friction.