There are a number of important factors to consider when choosing running insoles. These include existing foot condition, running style, and specific needs. In addition one should also factor in comfort, fit and support. There are a wide range of premium running insole brands to choose from to replace the existing inserts in your running shoes. All the leading running insole manufacturers design a range of insoles to suit individual running needs. They also address common foot problems for runners with low, medium and high arch profiles. All the main brands have built an excellent reputation. This can be gauged by the high quality, durability, and performance of their products, thus ensuring optimum support, comfort and fit. As each type of insert has specific attributes and features, it is important to choose an insole that suits your foot profile. Other factors such as your weight, biomechanics, weekly mileage, and fit preferences should also be considered
Checking Alignment or Foot Issues
Do you currently experience any foot discomfort or pain?
Have you been referred by a medical practitioner to buy insoles?
Are you an overpronator or supinator?
You are an overpronator when the outside of your heel is the first part that makes contract to the ground. Your foot roll inwards more than the standard 15% that means that your foot and ankle have problems in stabilizing your body with your big and second toe doing most of the work as you push off the ground and as a result shock isn’t efficiently absorbed.
You are an underpronator when the inside of your heel is the first to make contact with the ground. As a result there is insufficient inward movement after landing. The impact force is concentrated on the outside part of the foot and not evenly distributed. When you start to run, most of the work to push you off the ground is done by the smaller toes on the outside.
Since supination places more stress on the foot, it can lead to Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and impaired stability among many others. To prevent this, wear shoes with curved lasts, wear lightweight shoes for more foot motion and wear running insoles.
If yes to any of the above, choose a support/stability insole.
By Activity Type
If you run regularly choose a support insole.
If you run regularly on hard surfaces for long periods and feel pain in the ball or heel of the foot try a comfort insole first. If that does not provide relief, go for a support insole.
By Foot Profile
Is your heel narrow or wide, bony or fleshy?
Is your arch height notably high or low?
Is your arch length long or short in relation to overall foot length?
If yes to any of the above, it’s best to check out the insoles heel and arch dimensions first.
By Footwear Type
In general a high volume insole suits a high volume running shoe. A low volume insole is needed for a low volume shoe.
How to Check your Foot Profile
Performing a simple wet test is a good indicator in enabling you to determine your arch profile. Simply wet your feet in a shallow basin and stand on a sheet of brown paper. The footprint you leave will indicate how your foot absorbs the shock of impact with the ground. Observing the impression or shape of your foot and matching it with one of the three foot types below, is the first step toward finding the right running insole and shoe for you.
All of the following information is for guidance only. If you require more in depth analysis of your foot profile you should seek the advice of a podiatrist or sports medical practitioner.
Normal (medium) Arch
This is the most common foot type. Runners with this profile are considered normal or neutral pronators. If you can see about half of your arch you have this profile. This pronation absorbs shock as the the arch lightly collapses inwards towards your toes while running. You can wear any type of running shoe but may benefit more from a stability shoe that provides moderate arch support or medial stability.
However runners who are lightweight with normal arches may prefer neutral cushioned shoes without any added support.
Flat (low) Arch
If you see almost your entire footprint you have a flat foot. You are probably an overpronator. On impact your arch collapses inwards. This means you are not absorbing the impact correctly. The result is excessive foot motion and an increase in the risk of injuries. Stability Running Insoles are best suited for runners with a flat arch. Motion Control Shoes which have firmer support devices are more appropiate to severe over pronators. Tall, heavy or bow legged runners can also benefit from these.
If you see just your heel, the ball of your foot, and a thin line on the outside of your foot, you have a high arch. This is the least common foot type among runners. You are most probably an underpronator or supinator. Supinators don’t flex enough while running to provide effective shock absorption. They find the ground very hard on impact. If you are an under pronator Neutral Running Shoes or Cushioned Running Insoles are more suitable for you. These insoles contain a softer midsole to encourage pronation.
Types of Running Insoles
Stability Running Insoles
Stability running insoles function by primarily offering extra arch support, motion control and stability. This type of insole prevents over pronation, a condition where the ankles and knees roll inwards excessively when striking the ground. Stability insoles provide the balance that runners need to prevent and alleviate common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis. They come in rigid and semi rigid designs and feature a harder material for structural support and stability. They include arch supports to accommodate people with flat feet. Comfort is derived from the increased stability rather than the direct cushioning.
Medical professionals routinely recommend the use of supportive running insoles as part of the treatment protocol for plantar fasciitis as it functions like a custom orthotic. These running insoles should be chosen by over pronators, by runners who get injured often, or those experiencing any discomfort or pain while running.
Cushioned Running Insoles
Cushioned running insoles consist of a thick gel or soft foam. They provide shock absorption and cushioning to the feet while running. This prevents hot spots and injuries occuring to the feet and knees due to running on pavement and other concrete surfaces. They are available in flat or contoured styles.
Cushioned Support/Stability Running Insoles
Cushioned Stability Running Insoles combine the comfortable padding and absorption of cushioned insoles and the balancing features of stability running insoles. They are an excellent compromise for runners who want to have the best of both worlds when it comes to foot comfort and stability while running.
Comfort is key, especially for a high impact activity like running. It is important to buy a running insole that fits comfortably into your running shoes. Most runners complain that the forefoot of their shoes wears out too fast. When looking for a replacement insole, make sure it has a cushioning system in both the heel and forefoot. The size, shape, and style of your insoles change the internal space of your shoe. A narrow foot may benefit from a high volume insole while a wider foot is better served by a low volume insole. A running shoe that fits well in the mid and forefoot but allows heel slippage or lift may be improved by using a supportive mid to high volume insole. This reduces excess volume in the rear of the shoe and stabilizes the heel of the foot minimizing heel slippage which can cause hot spots and blisters. Improving the fit means that the foot is better supported. This can reduce or eliminate other foot issues such as pain from achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis. It is important to note the thickness of your running socks will have a significant impact on footwear fit.
Ideally cushioned inserts should be lightweight, flexible and made of materials that are durable.
It’s important to make sure that the arch support is made of a strong firm material so that it won’t simply squash flat under the force of your stride.
Insoles for running should be gradually bedded in. It is recommended to use running inserts for not more than three to four hours during the first three days and six to eight hours over the following four days. You should remove insoles regularly to allow moisture trapped between the insole and shoe to dry out when they become sweaty or wet. If necessary wash the running insoles by hand with a mild detergent or sports detergent and air dry before reinserting into your running shoes. Periodically inspect insoles for signs of deterioration and replace as needed.
The average life of a good quality pair of running insoles is estimated to be about 500 miles. Therefore it makes sense to replace the insoles and the shoes at the same time.