Welcome to ‘Acupressure points on insoles. Another choice for foot pain‘ 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 suggestive of helping acupuncture points? Some are set to specific positions 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, that is a gimmick surely? Curiously this summer I dug out a pair of shoes that have an insock with raised plastic contours. I am not sure why I bought them in the first place but they looked nice and the colour blue appealed. 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 sensations and discomfort returned. I longed for holiday time where shoes were used but a tiny percentage of the day, bare foot and Crocs being the norm. For some unknown reason those blue shoes in the cupboard came out and strangely 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 are curiously comfortable 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, all part of the painful process of travelling in June. So what’s the secret? I checked the internet and my usual research sites but nothing came up, except knee pain relief. How does this work?
Forget the knee and think foot. We know that researchers Ronald Melzack and Patrick Wall pioneered the thoughts on nociceptor nerve fibres in 1965 being interrupted by external stimuli so that pain reduced. 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 confused my brain, diverting the localised discomfort away from the site of surgery where no doubt some scarring exists around my old surgery site, hopefully devoid of its main troublesome nerve.
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.