Chronic back pain and occasional knee pain have been my Achilles' heel over the last 10 years, but (ironically), heel pain has never been an issue...that is, until about six months ago. Maybe it was because my shoes were old, or maybe I was just running too much, but I started to feel a "pulling" pain at the bottom and back of my right heel. I bought some new shoes and some heel inserts, I took a month off from running and I did all the R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy I could handle. But, when I hit the road again, the pain was still there. It was around that time that the reps from Kendall GelThotics offered to let me test drive their shoe insert to see if it would help. This is what I discovered:
About Kendall GelThotics
Take one look at the Kendall GelThotics and you instantly know they're different. Unlike traditional arch or heel supports that lie flat across the bottom of your shoe, the Kendall GelThotic forms a cobra-like curve that "cups" your arch and heel with silicone support. The genius of this design is three fold:
- It enables your foot to fit in your shoe the way it was intended, without the added lift of a more traditional insert
- The wrap of the insert allows it to mold to the shape of any shoe, so you can switch the insert between shoes as needed
- The medical-grade silicone construction ensures it won't break down or absorb scents, so a single pair of inserts can last for a number of years
The brains behind this design is Michael Kendall, a 30-year student of foot dynamics and the holder of a number of orthotic technology patents. Kendall set out on his journey to develop a new insert design after recognizing that runners often suffer from foot pain and plantar fasciitis due to poor full-fascia support.
The plantar fascia is a thick tissue on the bottom of your foot that connects the heel bone to the toes, creating the arch. When the plantar fascia becomes inflamed, "Ta da!" you've got plantar fasciitis. It's a huge pain (literally) for runners, because once inflammation has developed, it's hard to get rid of without serious rest and recuperation. Kendall realized that because the fascia spans approximately 3/4 of the bottom of the foot, no insert was providing support for the full fascia without affecting the fit of the shoe. He set out to solve this problem by developing the GelThotic.
GelThotic fit and support
I've tried tons of different shoe inserts - heel cups, arch supports and even fancy oven-baked mold-to-your-foot styles, so I'm no newbie to putting inserts in my shoes, but I went ahead and took my time to make sure I was inserting the GelThotics correctly. There was just one problem - the first pair of shoes I tried to put them in must be the only pair of running shoes in the universe that they don't work with. At first I thought I was doing something wrong, then I realized that my shoes had a built-in heel cup that was interfering with the GelThotics' ability to sit correctly along the back of the shoe. Bummer.
So, I switched shoes, and experienced instant insertion success. All you have to do is remove the insole from your athletic shoe and "wrap" the insert over the arch and around the heel before re-inserting your insole. Super easy.
I've since tried the inserts out on several other athletic shoe brands and styles, and haven't had any other problems.
Because I've tried so many different inserts, I've grown accustomed to feeling like my inserts "crowd" my feet in my shoes, pushing my feet uncomfortably upward. The GelThotics don't do this - in fact, they add support exactly where I need it most (along my arch) without interfering with the overall fit of the shoe. I've always thought of inserts as necessary for me, but not necessarily comfortable; the GelThotics actually make my shoes feel more comfortable to wear and to run in.
If I'm perfectly honest, I've changed a lot of my running habits over the last six months, making it difficult to say with 100% certainty what has or has not benefited the pain in my heel. That said, I started using the GelThotics in September, and I haven't experienced pain since October. That certainly looks like a positive correlation to me, and I wouldn't trade my GelThotics for any other shoe insert.
The end result
Would I suggest the GelThotics for individuals looking for a heel/arch support? Absolutely. Just make sure your shoe doesn't have a built-in heel cup. Also, be aware that the GelThotics have a higher upfront cost of $59.99, but because they last for years, their lifetime cost is less than your average drug store shoe insert purchase.
If you're interested in making a purchase, visit the Kendall GelThotics online store and enter the code "runpromo" for a 25% discount (and no, there's no benefit to me if you make a purchase).