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Background: Appropriate footwear is important for those who stand for prolonged periods of time at work, enabling them to remain comfortable, healthy and safe. Preferences for different footwear cushioning or hardness are often person specific and one shoe or insole will not be the choice for all. The aim of this study was to develop a range of insole options to maintain comfort during long periods of standing at work and test insole material preferences in the workplace. Methods: The study consisted of two parts. Part one evaluated 9 insoles of the same geometry that varied in hardness under 2 different plantar regions (n = 34). Insole preference, plantar pressure and selected anthropometric foot measures were taken. Three insole designs based on the most preferred options were identified from this part. In part two, these three insoles were evaluated with 22 workers immediately after trying them on (1 min) and after a working day. Foot anthropometric measures and subjective questions concerning material hardness preferences and self-reported foot characteristics were used to investigate whether either had a relationship with insole preference. Results: Part one found insole preference predominantly varied according to material hardness under the medial arch rather than the heel/forefoot. Softer material under the heel and forefoot was associated with a reduction in peak pressures in these regions (p < 0.05). The most preferred insole had lower pressures under the hallux and first metatarsal phalangeal joint, and greater pressures and contact area under the medial midfoot (p < 0.05) compared to the least preferred insole. Height and foot anthropometrics were related to insole preference. In part two, under real world conditions, insole preference changed for 65% of participants between the immediate assessment (1 min) and after a whole workday, with dorsum height related to the latter (p < 0.05). Subjective questions for self-assessed arch height and footwear feel identified 66.7% of the insole preferences after 1 day at work, compared to 36% using immediate assessment of insole preference. Conclusion: Preference for material hardness varies underneath the medial arch of the foot and is time dependent. Simple foot measures and questions about comfort can guide selection of preferred insoles.
Anderson, J., Williams, A. E., & Nester, C. (2020). Development and evaluation of a dual density insole for people standing for long periods of time at work. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13047-020-00402-2