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Do insoles need to equal arch support?

How Naboso Insoles could change the performance insole industry

by Dr Emily Splichal

Guess what, insoles do not need to mean arch support, cushioning, orthotics, foot pain or flat feet!

Insoles can be preventive, stimulating and an integral part of healthy, strong and natural feet!

The Sensory Side of Foot Function 

The human foot is an amazing acrhictecture of 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments.  It is normally regarded as having a biomechanical function to make you move. What is under-appreciated about the foot, and may be arguably more influential, is its sensory function.

The skin on the bottom of the foot is packed with special nerve endings called mechanoceptors, or tactile nerves.  These nerves are used to anticipate the ground, perceive impact forces and sense shifts in our center of gravity.   Once stimulated, these sensory nerves communicate with the brain via the somatosensory cortex to paint a picture of foot and body awareness.

Foot Awareness & Performance 

The more accurate our foot and body awareness, the better we can coordinate our movements.    This could be somtthing as basic as walking. But if we apply this to something complex like golf, enhanced foot awareness through stimulation of the feet may mean a more accurate perception of pressure distribution during each phase of the golf swing.

These are our top four ways to build better awareness – from the ground up.

1.  Barefoot Training

Barefoot movement preparation and sensory stimulation before putting on shoes is a great way to prepare the body for better movement and performance. This is what Naboso Founder Dr Emily Splichal calls “barefoot before shod”

Just 5 minutes of barefoot preparation work can wake up otherwise dormant nerve endings in the feet.    Think of it like light switches.   You are essentially priming the nervous system and connecting to the body in a more efficient way.

Recommended surfaces would include:   hardwood floor, Naboso® Standing Mat,  Power Plate whole body vibration platform with Naboso top cover – or simply walking barefoot outside.

2.  Harder Shoe Interface  

This is important to read carefully.  By harder shoe interface we mean the perceived hardness of the foot to shoe relationship.   The harder the midsole in a shoe the more sensory perception you will receive from that shoe.

A great analogy is the CrossFit or Olympic Lifting shoe.   These sports require very accurate foot to ground awareness for power generation.    The softer your insole, the more cushion in a shoe, or the softer the foot shoe interface the less accurate your foot awareness may be.

Minimal shoes, which are all the craze because they optimize foot function, increase foot awareness because they are technically “harder” compared to a cushioned shoe.   Minimal shoes which are more sensory rich have been demonstrated to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles.

3.  Sensory Insoles

All shoes, even the most minimal shoe will block important sensory information between the foot and ground.  By bringing sensory stimulation into the shoe, you can mimic the foot awareness and brain activation of being barefoot.

The Naboso® Insoles are a low profile, non-biomechanical, textured insole that offers an innovative way to increase foot awareness despite having your shoes on.   Feel the textured insole as you shift from the heel to the great toe and enhance the accuracy of your pressure distribution.

4.  Trigger Point Release

This last one is a favourite.  Just 5 minutes of rolling or releasing the foot on a golf semi-hard ball can increase foot and body awareness.   I suggest incorporating this into your movement prep before starting the barefoot stimulation suggested in #1.

As you begin to incorporate the above recommendations into your daily routines, remember that foot awareness is a skill and requires daily training to enhance the perception of subtle shifts in pressure.

 

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