Welcome to ‘Acupressure points on insoles‘ and July’s Footlocker article.

Ever heard of acupressure points on insoles? You probably have heard of the ones with magnets. What about those shoes that come with raised bumps. These offer suggestions of helping with those acupuncture points? Some points are set to specific positions while others just radiate across the insole.

 As a foot health clinician I have a large dose of scepticism for many therapeutic side lines. I understand the human body, and I understand drugs, surgery and orthotics to help the painful foot. But bobbly bits in shoes, no! Surely this is a gimmick? Curiously this summer I dug out a pair of shoes that were manufactured with an insock. This had  raised plastic contours. I am not sure why I bought them in the first place but they looked nice and the leather coloured blue appealed to me. I could feel those raises inside the shoe and could not convince myself they were comfortable so they just gathered dust in the bottom of my cupboard.

Science and enquiry arise through accident

Ridges are curiously comfortable

I had foot surgery in 2016 and even wrote a book last year on the subject. My surgery went well for the Morton’s Neuroma but well into my second year of recovery those sensations and discomfort returned. I longed for holiday time where shoes were used where bare foot and Crocs being the norm. For some unknown reason those blue shoes in my cupboard came out and felt comfortable now. In fact the site where my nerve was uncomfortable became less so as was my awareness from the raised plastic projections. My foot discomfort eased so much that remedial care went on hold. I then recalled my Crocs used on holiday. They too have ridges and had helped the year before.

I wore the blue shoes during a busy working week and then travelled to my holiday destination, a day’s effort to reach the location with walking along metres of airport corridors after changing planes halfway. So what’s the secret? I checked the internet and my usual research sites but nothing came up, except knee pain relief. So how does this work?

The Gate theory for pain

Forget the knee and think foot. We know that researchers Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall pioneered the thoughts on nociceptor nerve fibres in 1965. Pain can be interrupted by external stimuli so that pain reduced. I other words another stimulus can distract the main nerve pathways.This was called the Gate Theory. Could science explain this change in my foot comfort? All I can do is suggest that stimulation of other parts of the foot can confuse my brain. This has the effect of diverting the localised discomfort away from the site of surgery, where no doubt some scarring exists around my old surgery site. 

Am I a skeptic anymore? Well give me a scientific reason and I am always open to reason but now I believe there is a place for those little raised bobbles for some types of pain, perhaps related to nerves. For the moment my foot is happier.


Thanks for reading ‘Acupressure points on insoles

David Tollafield writes for Busypencilcase Reflective Communications (Est.2015) through ConsultingFootPain for his regular articles in Footlocker. 

Published July 2018. Reviewed July 2020