I like my lower back to be pain free – one of two of the main reasons I run (the other, brainstorming). If I am not careful however, I can get plantar fasciitis mostly in my left foot. After extensive experimentation over the last year (n = 1), I have discovered a few life hacks. In the past few years, I have worn the blue superfeet inserts in every pair of shoes that I own (walking, running, & hiking). However, I also owned two pair of barefoot runners that I used for light hikes with the kids bearing no extra weight (although, sometimes I end up carrying one of them and that is challenging in barefoots).
Summary at that point in time: I ‘liked’ the barefoots but did not love. I was wondering if zero-drop shoes were the same. I also assumed that I would always need inserts.
#1. Zero-drop does not equal barefoot shoes. Zero-drop is way better for me. A bit of cushioning but with no heel rise is amazing. A total of 18mm cushioning is all I need for walking, hiking, and light activity.
From now on, I am going to pass on the barefoots altogether. A bit of cushioning but no heel has also instituted a series of positive changes in my mechanics and foot strength.
#2. After about 6 months of zero-drop shoes, I do not need superfeet insoles at all in casual shoes. Amazing. Also, the wide toe box in all shoes I now wear has increased my foot size by one full size. Wild.
#3. Final lifehack with respect to footwear. Zero-drops are also not all equal. I purchased and experimented with various forms of advertised zero-drop models and brands. I do need a little rise in the arch of my feet. No heel but a little support in the middle of the footbed is critical otherwise I do get mild plantar fasciitis. So, I look for just a little support in the inside of the shoe, and I am good to go for insole free movement.
General inference for others
1. Here is the foot structure analysis from my chiropractor (Dr Chan) using a footbed scanner about a year ago before the experimentation: medium arch when standing, high arch when not weight-bearing, and overpronating on both sides.
2. Here is the emg scan of my back in terms of symmetry. I think this suggests why my left foot is more sensitive to impact.
I hope these little hacks are useful for others.