Heel cups are shoe inserts which are designed to provide additional support to the heels. They can be used as part of a corrective footwear program, or more generally to provide support to people who spend a lot of time on their feet. Many shoe stores carry them, and they are also available from drug stores, outdoor stores, and stores which specialize in various medical devices. Before using heel cups, it is a good idea to consult a podiatrist who can confirm that they are necessary.
Many foot problems such as plantar fasciitis can be aggravated by improper support and poor shock absorption for the foot, especially the heel. Rather than replacing shoes as soon as their soles wear out, using corrective footwear devices such as heel cups can allow people to address the need for proper foot support without spending a great deal of money on shoes. The cups are designed to cushion the entire heel, from the part which makes impact with the ground to the edges and back of the heel.
The padding of a heel cup can make it more comfortable for someone to walk, run, and stand. The cup also acts as a shock absorber, distributing the shock of impact rather than allowing it to focus on one area of the heel. The padding can also be used to apply gentle compression to reduce swelling in the heel and ankle, a common problem in people who stand on their feet all day or suffer from poor circulation.
People like nurses, chefs, and retail clerks spend a great deal of time on their feet on a daily basis, and they often develop heel pain and associated problems as a result. Wearing corrective footwear, including heel cups, can make it more comfortable to stand and work on the feet, which contributes to greater comfort in general as well as increased productivity at work. The cups can also improve posture, by providing more full support to the feet and legs.
When fitting heel cups, it is important to make sure that they fit properly into a pair of shoes, without buckling or being compressed. Improperly fitted cups can chafe the foot. It is also important to confirm that the cups are comfortable for the foot, which may require a few adjustments, along with some walking to confirm fit. Podiatrists and movement specialists can help people fit heel cups properly, and make additional recommendations for other corrective footwear products, including shoes.