In recent years there has been a lot of buzz about “rocker soles”. However, there is still a lot of confusion about them and many people don’t know if rocker soles are appropriate for them. I hope this blog clears up some of the confusion.

There are two types of rocker soles. The first is an unstable rocker sole. These soles are designed to introduce instability under the foot, in all directions, so your core muscles have to work harder. These types of shoes are best worn by people who move around a lot and they should only be worn on flat, hard, level, predictable surfaces. People who stand in one spot for a long time or have balance or equilibrium problems (including middle ear problems, stroke, MS and Menière’s) should not wear these soles as they will increase their risk of falling.

The second type is a stable rocker sole like the one shown here. Stable rocker soles fall into two categories: regular and negative. A regular rocker sole can benefit people who have pain or bone fusions in the ball of their foot or in their toes as these conditions cause them to experience a lot of pain as their toe lifts off during gait. Regular rocker soles replace the lost function of a joint and reduce pressure on the sole of the foot so they are helpful when walking or standing for long periods. If a person has a fused ankle from arthritis or another disorder, a full sole rocker may help them walk more normally and without pain as the rocker sole simulates a normal gait.

A “negative” rocker heel is designed for people with conditions such as foot drop ankle arthritis. A heel with this general shape allows a person with foot drop to put their foot on the ground more slowly and it helps to guide their foot into a more “normal” position if they land on the inside or outside of their heel.

Shoes that come equipped with a rocker sole (rocker sole shoes) from the store may be sufficient for some people’s needs. Others may require a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to add more if their pain and loss of function is not compensated for enough with the existing sole. To the left is a picture of a rocker sole that has been added by a Pedorthist.

Rocker sole shoes are here to stay. They offer excellent comfort when walking and hiking and we see new brands emerging with stable rocker soles on them. Rocker soles can help “Baby Boomers” who want to avoid aches and pains while enjoying an active lifestyle.

However, before moving into rocker soles, it is important to consult with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist to make sure you use rocker soles that are appropriate for you. If you’re considering rocker soles, make an appointment with your local Canadian Certified Pedorthist to discuss if they are right for you.

By Jim Pattison, C. Ped (C), Prince Albert, SK