Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Insolia

Back in the days when this little shoe blog was in its diapers, stretching out one timid antenna into the blogosphere, Scarpediem was immediately contacted by a sales rep (or marketing rep?) for a new product called Insolia. In short, the claim of this product is that it greatly reduces the pain caused by high heels by shifting the pressure from the ball of the foot to the entire area of the sole (towards the heel, in other words). This way, you'd be able to wear your precious heels longer and without (or with diminished) pain.

If you browse the site, you'll find an article that explains the theory behind this product, as well as presents some (pretty impressionistic, in my opinion) surveys of the wearers of Insolia. Not surprisingly, you'll find that the success rate is far from 100%, but the fact that enough women found this product helpful warranted the launch of a full-blown marketing campaign. The truly ironic part of the article is that the authors point out that podiatrists don't really recommend wearing stilettos or high heels at all; but since women wear them anyway, the authors feel that they can at least provide something to alleviate the pain. This, to me, is the (toned down) equivalent of telling a bulimic, "you shouldn't really throw up, it's bad for your health; but since you're going to do it anyway, here's a special tongue depressor to smooth the process for you."

The guys behind this product (it's funny it's guys, isn't it?) are in fact quite nice and perfectly charming, at least in the correspondence and follow up. In fact, they sent me three pairs of Insolia, free, so that I could try them and spread the word.

How does Insolia look? Two teeny transparent gel inserts with a raised bump in the middle, that you stick to the insole of the shoe:


Now, if I were walking the walk and doing what I'm preaching, I wouldn't even have any high heels left in my closet to try this on, would I? But hey, I'm a former junkie myself--as I've mentioned, I used to live in a place were walking was pretty much optional (limited to apartment-parking lot, parking lot-work, and a few strolls down the hallway, plus the occasional date involving minimal walking, too), at a time when I was absolutely ADDICTED to "Sex and the City" (which no doubt threw millions of women around the globe into the throes of shoe addiction), and so I indulged in a few sharp heels, many of which I couldn't really wear and I subsequently got rid of, as documented on this blog.

However, I have my deep, dark secrets, too. I've been unable to get rid of 4 pairs of heels (read, over 2" high). I think I'll have no problem getting rid of two of them. The other two, however, are a little problematic. See, one is this gorgeous Dries van Noten gray distressed leather high-heel Mary Jane with deep blue flower embroidery on the vamp:


These shoes are just stunning, and they cost an arm and a leg, too. I wore them twice, kicking and screaming (no, literally), and I've put them to rest in my closet, where I take them out to admire them from time to time. At a 3.5" heel, they're likely to rest in peace for a long, long time.

The other is a pair of Robert Clergerie 2 3/4" chunky heels, which I bought by mistake: I truly thought the heel was 2" (why, I can't imagine). Add to that that I LOVE Clergerie shoes, the pair I already have is very comfortable and well made, I needed brown loafers, and they were on sale for $40 (which is like, 90% off the original price). How could I resist? However, the first wear brought out my inner gawkiness and awkwardness (you know, the whole pressure on the knees and such), fueled by that burning pain in the ball of the foot. Not. Comfortable. At. All. So, what better chance to use Insolia? Here's a picture of the shoe and of how Insolia looks inside it:

I am HEARTBROKEN to report that, um, no, I didn't feel much better. I did feel a little awkward, and, yeah, maybe, in terms of pain, there was like a 5-10% decrease. But at the end of 1/2 miles in those shoes, Insolia or not, I felt the same burning desire to take them off and never see them again. Oh, and it doesn't help that Insolia and orthotics don't mix (can't have one on top of the other, duh).

Now, maybe it's my feet? My shoes? My plantar fasciitis? The way I stuck the things to the insoles? (apparently that's a refined art, requiring advanced metric skills: one milimiter to the right or left can make all the difference, the makers of the product claim, which doesn't make that much sense to me: how long do I have to try to get it exactly right?). Anyhoo, I have to admit that there was an ever so slight improvement.

Will I use Insolia? Hm... I guess I'll just try to stick to comfortable shoes for a while, seems like the infinitely more sensible solution. However, I think I'll keep a pair of Insolia around for my treasured Dries van Notens. I'm not going to throw those shoes away, and I'm trying to stretch my imagination to fit a contorted scenario in which I walk two steps to the limo, two steps to the opera loge, and another two steps back and call it a night. Not gonna happen, I know--which will keep my dreams of sex and the city and its shoes locked in my shoe closet, together with the two small inserts that promised so much and, at least in my case, delivered so little.

However, I'm not every woman, and if you should feel so inclined, or you have a stash of gorgeous but horribly painful stilettos hidden away for those days in which you feel particularly prone to punishing your feet, you might want to give these a try. If not, well, I can't blame you.

8 Comments:

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Henri-V said...

Keep the Van Notens. They are beautiful artifacts.

I'm sending you a link to another brand of stylish, trendy, yet supposedly comfortable shoes tomorrow ...

you'll have to tell us what you think when you get it.

 
At 1:15 AM, Blogger Henri-V said...

And, ha hahhh, the "tongue depressor" comment. It is not right to laugh about the matter, but the comparison was sharp!

 
At 1:25 AM, Blogger Brian said...

Scarpediem:

Hi, I'm the product engineer, so a tad biased, but let me comment on what you felt.

First, even with your Plantar Fasciitis you said you felt some benefit. As we've said, there is a "Bell Curve" as to how women respond. The testimonials on our site are obviously written by women on the top side of the curve. You would appear to be on the other.

Also, our testing shows that they do not work for about 20% of women, and you may be on the edge of that group. The good news, they do work for 80% of women.

As for placement, the best comment other women have given back to us, is "move them till they are comfortable". That is, if they bug you under the heel, move them forward, if your arch is twitching - move them away. Once you've found that comfy spot - leave them be.

Thanks for trying Insolia Inserts.

 
At 11:25 PM, Blogger jlcoots said...

I just saw these on the news tonight. They had a professional dancer try them out for only 3 days. She said that her feet did not feel tired after dancing in 4" heels for 12 hours. That's hard to beat a testimonial like that. I'm hoping I'll fall into the 80% success rate as i adore all heel heights!

 
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