Deep heel cups in shoes are used to help stabilize the foot by aligning your feet with the ankle, knee, and hips. The proper foot alignment will help counter overpronation and supination, thus reducing pain in your feet to your back.
Obtaining natural foot alignment is imperative in helping to prevent foot injury and pain in your lower extremities. The alignment of your body starts with your feet and works its way up to the ankles, then knees, hips, back and shoulders. The biomechanical structure of your body relies of your joints being positioned properly to support the weight. If there is a misalignment, stress or rubbing can be endured causing pain from just walking around.
A normal gait cycle would consist of weight being evenly distributed across the foot so that there is not a single area where the weight is concentrated. You can identify if there is an uneven distribution of weight during the gait cycle by looking at wear patterns on the bottom soles of your shoes.
Those that overpronate or roll their feet inward will show significant wear in the heel area and the ball of foot up towards the big toe. Supinators or those that roll their feet outwards will show signs of wear on the outer edge of the sole. In extreme cases, the material on the uppers will have wear or holes from the constant pressure of the foot rolling outwards.
Also, deep heels are commonly used to help with heel pain, also known as plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis can be caused by abnormal pronation (overpronation or supination). Heels that are too low or a thinning fat pad in the heel area can cause the inflammation of the plantar fascia. A slight heel lift, no more than a quarter inch, can help shift pressure to the forefoot.
Commonly, shoes that feature deep heel cups will have a contoured insert that also provides added arch support. The arch support can help prevent further injury to the plantar fascia. Depending on if you have rigid flat feet (flat foot with weight or no weight applied) or flexible flat feet (flat foot depending on if weight is applied), you will look for an insert that has cushioned arch support for flexible flat feet or a fully rigid arch support for rigid flat feet.
Orthotics With Deep Heel Cups & Arch Support
Shoe manufacturers and podiatrists know the importance of foot alignment and recommend footwear that offers this kind of foot support. Brands like Vionic have implemented the Orthaheel orthotic technology into their footwear to provide stability and support for natural alignment.
They compare their footbeds to the terrain in which human feet were designed - soft elements like soil and sand, not flat man-made surfaces. Their footbeds provide form fitting support, like a natural footprint in the sand.
If your current footwear does not offer a deep heel cup and arch support and you are experiencing heel pain or problematic pronation, you do not always need to throw out your shoes. Custom orthotics or inserts can be used that have the correct support for your feet. You will need a shoe that has a removable insert, so that you have enough depth in the shoe.
An ideal orthotic will provide a deep heel cup that will hug the heel to provide stability and a cushioned heel pad to absorb shock, thus reducing pain in the heel area.
**It is advisable to consult a health-care professional such as a doctor or podiatrist before taking action based on any information found on our website. Our goal is to provide information and educate others on a number of issues relating to foot health, not give medical instruction.