Improving Employee Health and Workplace Productivity with an Insole Program

Feet are the foundation of the body, carrying the burden of weight while supporting the knees, back, and hips

Workers who walk or stand for long periods of time during their workday, without proper foot support and shock absorption, are susceptible to pain and harmful musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that can have lasting effects on the body.

Just as steel-toe footwear is often required as personal protective equipment for workers, insoles are essential for preventing pain and fatigue. 

Aches and pains in the body associated with foot issues can also impact workers’ knees and back. Understandably, this can result in reduced employee work productivity or absenteeism.

There is a significant advantage to providing insoles vs. traditional anti-fatigue matting for a work environment. The benefits of insoles include a personalized fit and the ability for the worker to be mobile.

If orthotics insoles are necessary to correct an existing issue such as pronation, it is important that the orthotic insole supports; corrects, and places the foot back in its natural and neutral position, the optimal position for healthy feet.

Implementing a company insole program is an important decision and all aspects should be considered, including employee involvement, to ensure the program meets the needs of all workers and has a positive impact and acceptance rate



The Risks of Ignoring Foot Support

Employees who work on their feet every day are at higher risk of MSDs, with back disorders accounting for 49 percent of all work-related injuries.

Physical work requirements within manufacturing and similar industries include prolonged standing, static postures, overexertion, and repetitive motion, which can lead to aches, pain, and injuries on the job. 

Standing or walking for long periods of time within the workplace affects the knee, hip, and back over the long term.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of workers over 65 increased by 101 percent between 1997 and 2007. 

Due to the aging workforce and increased health care costs, insurance premiums and workers’ compensation claims are skyrocketing. Arthritis and other degenerative diseases are on the rise, and the cumulative effects of micro trauma and repetitive stress can build up.

it's important to prevent the progression of arthritis with additional foot comfort and support. If it’s left untreated, the condition can quickly force workers to leave their jobs.

Balance is also important as workers age.

According to the National Institutes of Health, balance disorders are one reason that older people fall, which can lead to serious injuries. 

Good balance is key to helping people safely move and remain still, and stay independent as they age.

Organizations should look for ways to support employees' balance to help prevent the falls that nearly one-third of adults aged 65 years and older experience each year.

While back disorders make up nearly half of all work-related injuries, a large portion can be avoided.

Feet are the foundation of the body, carrying the burden of weight while supporting the knees, back, and hips. If feet are not properly cared for, this can result in pain, fatigue, and damage to the body.

If left untreated, this pain can escalate over time and cause issues such as shin splints, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, and more MSDs.

Ignoring the issue of foot care can also escalate the impact of shock waves. If feet experience poor shock absorption, it can jolt knees, the back, and hips with each step.

The result is joint and muscle pain throughout the body. Hard surfaces, which are common in many workplaces both indoors and outdoors, are especially unforgiving when there is a lack of foot support.

When employees are suffering from pain and fatigue, they are less energetic and productive and morale can take a hit; pain may also lead to lost-time injuries.

Thankfully, solutions exist today that can reduce the negative impact of the environment on employees' feet.




Insoles vs. Matting

Organizations usually consider two options to reduce employee pain and fatigue: insoles and floor matting.

Personal insoles offer numerous advantages and flexibility to both employees and organizations, making them an attractive solution. These benefits include:


  • Insoles can be implemented instantly without training and go wherever the worker goes. This makes them an ideal solution for both stationary and mobile workers who work both indoors and outdoors.


  • Personalized comfort. Employees can select the type of insole that best matches their needs, allowing for personalized comfort for workers based on their foot size and arch type.


  •  Direct contact with the body. As insoles are placed inside the footwear, they have 100 percent surface contact with the feet and body 100 percent of the time, providing an ergonomic solution.


  • Reduced risk. Insoles reduce the risks of slips, trips, and falls, making the workplace safer and lowering expenses related to workers’ compensation claims. With matting, the edges could curl up and create tripping hazards.


  • Easy to implement. Insole programs are simple to implement, particularly if you have conducted a wear trial with a key group of employees first.


  • Cost effective. Insoles are more affordable than floor matting. Quality insoles can also stand the test of time, resulting in infrequent replacement.


Choosing the Correct Insole for Each Individual

To select the right insole for each employee, it's essential to determine what is needed most—shock absorption, support, or addressing a pre-existing foot condition. Finding an insole provider that offers numerous customizable and comfortable options allows companies and employees to explore a range of solutions for both plant/warehouse and office workers.

Insoles that provide shock absorption can be used to prevent health and pain issues, while others provide more support to align the foot into the proper neutral position. Insoles that are designed to properly support and comfort feet are not the same as insoles that form or are molded to the exact shape of one’s foot.

According to a study done by the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research,heat-molding orthotic devices do not have a measurable effect on the biomechanical variables compared to the non-molded condition.

Heat-molding insoles lack in providing corrective support because they're not firm enough to provide support. Most importantly, these types of insoles reinforce the incorrect arch that's already causing foot pain and don’t offer pronation control, which would correctively put the foot in a neutral position, and realign it with other body parts.



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