Insoles : A Complete Guide You Need to Follow
Do you walk around a lot? Do your carry a backpack often, have foot aches, discomfort or hot spots?
Your feet are probably killing you right now, but with a good pair of insoles you’re going to get relief regardless of your foot condition.
For this to work though, you must be able to choose the proper insoles. While they’re all built to provide support, features differ.
In this guide, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about insoles. How they work, the types available and what features you should look for.
Let’s start with a simple definition of insoles and what they do.
Table of Contents
What are Insoles?
An insole is a detachable layer inside a shoe or boot. It is most important of all types of soles available. It is designed to provide extra support and comfort. Walking, standing or running for prolonged periods put a lot of strain on your feet. The cushion built into shoes is not enough, so you need insoles to provide relief.
Insole come in many styles and shapes. Some are designed for shoes and others for boots. They are also built to support different foot types, which is why it is important that you choose one that fits your particular condition and needs.
There is a brief description about insoles and inserts and Orthotics in our blog. Check this out.
Types of Insoles
- Comfort: Comfort insoles are designed to provide relief for general foot discomfort. These are often flat and made from foam or gel. They can be heel or arch, ¾ or full length.
People who spend hours on their feet, walking or running on hard surfaces may find these useful.
- Support: Support insoles are made of more durable, harder materials than comfort insoles. However, the tradeoff means they’re more stable and balanced. These are most suitable for those with plantar fasciitis, over-pronation, supination and structural misalignment.
This can even provide relief for head, neck and back pain. A lot of these conditions are due to poor foot support, so these type will help. These insoles also make your feet less likely to roll in (over-pronate) or roll out (supinate).
Most support insoles cannot be customized to fit, but they’re sold in different profiles and models to fit your requirements.
- High Volume: These are used on high volume footwear like running shoes, ski boots and hiking boots.
- Low Volume: These are aimed at low volume footwear like ski skate boots, in-line skate boots, cycling shoes and casual shoes. The thickness of your socks has an effect on how comfortable the insoles will be.
- Custom Orthotics: This is a general term used that are manufactured for specific types of foot problems. A lot of insoles provide relief for different types of foot pain, so they fall under the term orthotic insole.
Since custom orthotics cover a wide spectrum, it’s likely that you’ll find one that satisfies your requirements. Most product descriptions also use the term orthotics for comfort and support insoles.
What are Insoles Made Of?
- Air: These have pressurized air bubbles covered in foam. Foam gets squeezed with prolonged use, but the air bubbles prolong their lifespan. Brands use different types of air capsule systems to prolong its life.
- Gel: These have a foam footbed with liquid gel covered in bubbles. The gel element is used to extend the insole’s lifespan. Gel insoles also provide support for vulnerable areas of your feet.
- Foam: Foam insoles have a hard base, and they’re dense for arch support and heel cupping. This type provide maximum energy transfer while reducing injury risks.
You can check the comparative analysis of all these types of insoles in our blog.
Why Do We Need Insoles?
Insoles provide support for your feet. You may think it’s unnecessary now because you don’t feel any pain. But your feet can only take so much pressure especially if you’re overweight, stand or walk for hours.
These work two ways, provide relief from discomfort and prevent pain from occurring. If you wear these, the chances of developing foot injuries will go down. What it comes down to is this: if you spend a lot of time on your feet, having a good pair of insoles is going to make a difference down the line.
- Insoles provide support for your feet. They reduce discomfort and pain.
- They come in different types and support the needs of different individuals.
- Insoles are comfortable and ease the pressure on your feet.
- Some insoles provide support up to your ankles and ease plantar fasciitis.
- They have antimicrobial properties to prevent odor.
- There are insole for casual shoes, boots, sports shoes and other footwear.
- They make shoes more comfortable and provide room for your feet to breathe.
- Insoles take some getting used to.
- There are so many options it may be confusing for beginners.
Who Needs Which Insoles?
- Air Insoles: These type is for those who want comfortable, long lasting insoles. They’re also very breathable.
- Foam Insoles: These are for individuals who prefer firmer soles. They’re also the more traditional in construction and work with different types of shoes.
- Support Insoles: These are designed to give support for those with plantar fasciitis and other types of foot like high arches or even medium arches. They’re also aimed at people who experience foot discomfort.
- Orthotic Insoles: These are for people have specific types of foot problems and need support.
Insole Using Tips
- Use the insoles only as directed in label. If it’s a low volume insole, do not use for high volume footwear and vice versa. A lot of problems and issues with insoles arise from improper use, so proper care is necessary.
- Don’t let your insoles get wet. Foam insoles are especially vulnerable to damage. Even if the insoles are advertised as water resistant, it’s still better to keep them dry.
- If your insoles get wet, remove them as soon as possible. Pat dry with a clean dry towel. Lay the insoles in a place where there is ventilation. Let the insoles dry. This can take overnight or several days depending on how wet they are.
- Use mild soap and lukewarm water to clean insoles. Do not drench them in water.
- Do not use silicone based cleaners as it may cause damage.
- Do not machine wash insoles as it will destroy the material. Follow the other cleaning methods here, but avoid machine washing.
Common Footwear Fit Problems
- Collapsed or Low Arches: This is a very common problem, and the solution is to wear arch support insoles. If your shoes won’t fit, get a pair of support insoles that will stabilize your feet. Support insoles also provide extra stability. These insoles also ensure your arch muscles are supported.
- Heel Slippage: Does your shoe fit well at the mid and forefoot but slips along the heel? You can fix this by wearing mid or high volume insoles. You also get the same results if you use support insoles. Another benefit is these insoles prevent blisters and hot spots.
- Feet Elongation: Some people have elongated feet, i.e. longer when standing than sitting. A good pair of support insoles can reduce your discomfort and allow you to walk in comfort, plus they’re a better fit.
A lot of problems with footwear stem from an incorrect fit. Make certain you measure your feet correctly and make allowances for the socks you’re going to wear. If you wear thick socks, make sure your shoes still give your feet room to breathe. If your insoles are fine but the shoes just don’t fit anymore, maybe it’s time to buy a new pair.
- Too Long in Size: If your insoles are too long, just trim them until they fit your shoes.
- Test : Put the insole on the floor, not in your shoes. Stand over it. Lift your other foot so you’re balancing on the insole. Do you feel comfortable? Can you put pressure on it? Next, put them in your shoe and try it on.
- Assess the fit and feel: Do you feel comfortable? Walk around and get a feel for it. Do them provide relief? How is the volume? Do your feet feel better in terms of easing the pressure?
Best Brands Available
- Powerstep: Powerstep products are known for providing arch support and a low profile design to suit different footwear. The soles also have Dual-Layer Cushioning with VCT to cushion your feet. Their products also come with a heel cradle so there’s extra support for your feet even when you’re on hard surfaces. They also come in different styles and colors.
- Dr. Scholl’s: Their products are very durable and ideal for people who are always on their feet. These are conform to the shape of your feet so you’re always comfortable even on hard surfaces. Unlike other insoles, Dr. Scholl’s were developed specifically for heavy duty use. Their items also have a longer lifespan than other types.
- Superfeet: Superfeet insoles are made from high quality synthetic materials, and each one comes with full arch support. The company makes different types, but all of them are built so they’re compatible with different types of shoes. They also provide relief for different types of foot pain. From general discomfort to plantar fasciitis, these provide relief.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Will insoles make my feet smell?
Answer: Most of them have antimicrobial properties to prevent this. You should also clean your insoles regularly and wear different types of socks.
Question: Which insole should I buy?
Answer: Support insoles are going to give your feet firmer support. Comfort insoles will provide additional cushion. You need to make sure the type you buy are appropriate for your shoes.
Question: How do I find the right size?
Answer: There is no industry standard size. You need to check the sizing convention used by your preferred brand and find one that matches your shoe size.
Question: How do I know if the insoles are a good fit?
Answer: Your heels should be in the heel cup, and the insoles must not feel narrow.
Question: My toes extend beyond the insole. What does it mean?
Answer: The insoles are too small and you need to switch to a bigger size.
Question: How long does a pair lasts?
Answer: Usually around 3 to 9 months, but it could be longer or shorter depending on how it’s handled.
Question: Do insoles really provide relief for aching feet?
Answer: Yes, and they’re also effective as prevention against these conditions.
By going over this guide, you will now have an easier time figuring out which of these insoles is going to work. Rather than just pick a pair at random, you can go ahead and wear one that will ease the pain and discomfort on your feet. The research you put in will pay off.
Insoles have a simple purpose, and that is providing relief for your weary feet. However, there are different kinds of foot pain so you have to choose one that is compatible with your situation. Wearing the wrong pair could make your condition worse.