In my teens and 20s, I opted for “fashion” over function when it came to my shoe selection—and consequently, my feet were always in stylish agony. I favored paper-thin sandals and cheap plastic flats that left my soles blistered and sent pain up my shins, across the tops of my feet, and into my back. Even my sneakers lacked adequate support (looking at you, Converse Chuck Taylors)—and don’t get me started on the heels I wore to work and out with friends.
The older I grow, though, the fewer fucks I give about how I look and exist in the world. After all, I’m the one living in and caring for my body, and what it cries out for is comfort. My feet most of all, given how naturally flat they are. So why would I spend hours Googling (and investing in) “how to keep my cat happy,” but ignore other foundational pillars of my life?
Luckily, trends started catching on around the same time that I did. “Ugly shoes” are a mainstream thing now, and I can style an outfit with cushioned Hoka sneakers and Teva sandals (both known for having ample arch support) and still feel trendy. And for my shoes that still fall a bit flat, I turn to these removable Fulton insoles.
How Fulton insoles work
The brand gifted me two sets of its over-the-counter (OTC) shoe inserts: the Athletic insole (billed for running and other outdoorsy activities) and the Classic insole (for everyday walking). I like both, but the Athletics are my go-tos for long city saunters and not-super-intense jogs (I’m a 2.5-mile run/walk kind of girlie).
The Fulton Athletics are sleek and quite rigid, with a subtle arch and deep heel cups—all green flags for effective OTC insoles. These features help them hug and stabilize the foot, keeping it from abnormally tilting, Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a surgical podiatrist and founder of Step Up Footcare in New York City, tells SELF. It’s that swaying of the heel that can lead to arch pain, plantar fasciitis, and even Achilles tendonitis, she says.
How the Fulton insoles fit and feel
I used the Fultons in place of the original insoles in my low-impact Nike Court Royale and New Balance 574 sneakers, as well as my Asics running shoes. I live in Brooklyn, and on any given weekend day, I regularly walk six or seven miles across hot pavement. After a couple months of wearing the insoles, I found that my feet, shins, knees, and hips no longer screamed in pain. The insoles seemed to support my flat feet with just the right amount of curve under my arches, and my ankles and heels felt secure. My soles also stopped burning during jogs (maybe due to the inserts’ layer of shock-absorbing cork).
I’ve now worn the Fulton insoles for almost 10 months—and I no longer think about foot pain. Wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles! Though these inserts are nowhere near wearing out, I’d definitely spend $48 on another set. If you’re someone who suffers from foot discomfort and want to try an OTC solution before springing for pricier custom orthotics, the Fultons are definitely worth a try (especially given their generous 90-day return policy). I can wear my cutie sneakers to stroll and stroll until I’m finally ready to sit—a time that (almost) never comes, thanks to my favorite insoles.