Three Points of the Compass is trying out new insoles this year. Arch Angel are from UK based Healthy Feet and are an alternative to US Superfeet.
Three Points of the Compass has been looking for a firmer and possibly better insole to the ones normally found in my trail shoe of choice, the Altra Lone Peak. The basic stock Altra insoles are thin, pretty flexible, and I have had them ‘walk’ up out of the shoe on occasion, popping up along side my ankle. I have tried various replacement insoles over the years, including market leader Superfeet for a couple of years. I even tried cutting out a pair of simple insoles myself out of the material found in almost all insoles, either 3mm or 4mm poron, but that simply wasn’t robust enough and was a total failure.
Visiting the National Outdoor Expo in Birmingham this year I paused at the Healthy Step stand to chat to the guys there. Healthy Step have been providing insoles to the NHS for condition specific patient needs since the ’90s. When covid forced them to look to increasing their market elsewhere, they began providing their insoles direct to the public for hiking, running, and those troubled by degenerative joint disease. They attended the Expo in 2022 and it was in discussion with the visiting public then that they realised that a new product was required. Arch Angel was the result with a first prototype in June 2022 and it is what evolved from that they took to the 2023 show. UK based, some of their products are made in the Far East.
Healthy Step have a range of products alongside their Arch Angel insoles. The Arch Angel insoles are specifically designed for those with fallen arches, but are suited for runners and hikers spending a lot of time on their feet. I don’t have fallen arches but was assured that these were the right insole for me. We shall see! Certainly they were cheap enough with a show special price for me to give these a try. I was measured up by Podiatry Advisor Neville Parker on the stand and I purchased a pair of XL. This weekend I dug out a new pair of Lone Peak 6 trail shoes (I buy three or four pairs at a time) so decided to fit my new insoles to these.
There is a guide on the bottom of each insole on how it can be trimmed, but I found this had little resemblance to how mine required trimming. The toe shape is very different as is the instep. I actually needed to cut off just a little of the tougher harder dark blue part of the insole. There is no unyielding plastic in the product so the trimming was simple enough, with care.
“Foot pains include metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma, and arch strains. Often, wearing shoes with a wide toe box, a flattish heel, and with good fixation (a lace is best) will improve symptoms. Trainer and comfort type shoes are ideal. However, strengthening the feet using simple exercises and using a specially designed arch contouring insole, such as the Arch Angel, will start to resolve most foot pains within a short time”Healthy Feet
Having removed the existing Lone Peak insoles and drawn a required pattern on the new insoles, I first scissored off major parts to be removed, then cleaned it all up a bit with a razor and cutting board. When I have had Superfeet fitted in the past at Cotswold, they have cleaned up the insoles on a rotary grinder (you can see the cleaned up edges on an image below), that has obviously not been done in this case. I suppose if I had a Dremel, I could do the same here, but I don’t, so I haven’t!
The tougher part of the insole, below the heel and midfoot has similarity to that on my Superfeet Black, though there does appear to be a good deal more clever looking moulding on the Superfeet. Though if that actually does much I know not.
As mentioned, I have been looking for a replacement to the US made Superfeet insoles, mostly because the Superfeet are pretty pricey and just about all the colour models either lift my heels too far inside the heel cup or are ‘not quite right’ for my feet. I have no idea how I am going to get on with the Arch Angel insoles, or how they will handle a good few hundred miles pounding along trails. It is, at any rate, good to see there seems to be a different UK based alternative available. I certainly don’t expect the new insoles to remain pristine bright and clean for very long. I would have preferred if they were a darker more neutral colour to prevent them simply looking grubby. I’ll report back later this year on how I have been getting on with them.
Many thanks for this Jools. I have moved on from the Lone Peak to the Olympus as seemingly according to the experts at Northern Runner it’s the same last. I am struggling with plantar fasciitis so hopefully a new insole may help.
Good luck with the change Bob. I tried on the Olympus but they were simply not ‘right’ on my feet. Good luck too, with the plantar fasciitis, I got it in 2015 and it took two years of recovery, I am still careful to apply deep foot massage, together with heel drop and calf stretching exercise on trail