Running is one of the hardest activities on earth. If you disagree, it’s probably because you are great at doing it. Most of us, though, even the ones that are in shape, don’t fall into this category. It’s painful and repetitive at times, and both of those things can be caused by the footwear that you find yourself in. Wearing the right pair of shoes is massive for giving you the most comfort and performance, but sometimes you need to go above and beyond that. That is where insoles come into the picture. Insoles, or inserts, are pieces of equipment that can enhance the running experience by tailoring the shoes to your specific body. By doing this, they can help tackle a myriad of problem and help take away pain and improve your overall ability. In our buying guide today, we’ll be diving in to take a look at everything you need to know about them.
Top Insoles for Running Comparison Chart
|Product||Material||Type||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. GAOAG Gel Sports Insoles||Gel||Orthotics||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Walk Hero Arch Support Insoles||Foam||Orthotics||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Physix Gear Sport Full Length Inserts||Foam||Orthotics||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Sof Sole Athlete Insoles||Gel||Inserts||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. Easyfeet Arch Support Insoles||Gel||Orthotics||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. Dr. Scholl’s Shock Reducing Running Insoles||Gel||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. Currex RunPro Running Comfort Insoles||Gel||Orthotics||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. VOCOFA Arch Support Insoles||Gel||Metatarsal pad||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|9. Superfeet Run Comfort Running Insoles||Foam||Orthotics||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|10. New Balance 3720 Arch Stability Insoles||Foam||Metatarsal pad||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
Insoles for Running Buying Guide
The Purpose of Insoles
For many of us, the purpose and true point of an insert is unknown. Are they just gimmicks, or do they actually work is another question that is served up in the air to us to come up with an answer to. For many people, they decide they are not worth the investment. But that’s a folly because they are likely going around the issue entirely. The central point to an insole is not to just wear one with your shoes. Rather, the idea is to identify what your problem area is. Maybe you have an issue with your feet hurting constantly or you have inflammation in the ankles. It could be any number of things, in reality. The true purpose of insoles is to figure out what the issue is and then try to address that with an insert that is made to combat that specific problem. When you do it this way, your level of success is going to be higher than just randomly selecting an insole to pair with your shoes just because it is what you are supposed to do.
Why Shoes Aren’t Enough For Everyone
Another major question that will be asked for many is why their shoes aren’t doing the job for them. Let’s look at how shoes work to get a better grasp on this. First and foremost, unless you are a very skilled and well-known athlete, you are not going to be getting fitted for your shoes and having them made exactly in the manner you call for. Because of that, what you end up with is a piece of equipment, this is even the case with the best of the best out there, that is mass produced. They are made to fit the ‘every man’ or ‘every woman,’ rather than you. This is why some people, such as those with wide feet, are so often frustrated with shoes. On top of this fact, you have to consider that you are asking a whole lot out of shoes. Many running shoes do an excellent job at giving you shock absorption, traction, comfort, the aesthetics that please you greatly, and much more. That’s a whole ton to ask of a pair of shoes, even at high prices. It’s normal for them to let you down a bit in the insert department. It is disappointing, sure, but it’s also not unexpected. The absolute best pair of shoes just might not have everything you need, but it could be very close, so don’t get too discouraged.
Each Foot is Unique
If you go to the mall or to the park and sit down and just watch people you can see a ton of differences right from the get go. Is someone single or married, or do they have kids? Much in this same vein, you can also see a wide range of ways that people walk. How they walk translates over to how they run. Over time, the way that you walk, the pattern at which you do it, referred to gait, is going to determine how your feet feel as you actively run. Your gait is worth noting and getting to know so that you can better protect yourself in the future. Perhaps you have flat feet or you have high arches. Either of those can greatly change the kind of support that you need to have. And as discussed above, not all shoes are going to be able to go well with your specific body type of way of running. So keep this in mind. Some of us will need more protection than others. You may need an orthotic from a doctor, you might just need one that you get at the store or online, or you may be just perfectly content with your shoes. This is just to say that an insert is not an answer for everyone, but it is certainly a possibility.
The materials that are used to make an insole are going to say a ton about how well they are able to accomplish their job. If a pair of inserts are made with less than ideal materials, then you’re not likely to end up getting the kind of results that you would hope for or that they would claim to make. In this section, we are going to break down the different types of materials, since all of them do bring something different to the table.
One of the most common types of materials that you will see used in conjunction with inserts will be gel. One of the reasons that this is so popular is because of how light it is when compared to foam. Foam has been used in footwear for a very long time, but gel has, too. Gel came along to replace foam, and most of the ‘regular’ foam has been phased out in today’s market as a result. One of the main purposes of gel is to provide a lot of pain relief. Many in this category do this because they are marketed as being able to ‘massage’ the feet during whatever activity you might be partaking in. Sometimes, you will just see part of an insole using gel, perhaps in the heel, for example, but you still get the benefits of it in that spot. They’ve been shown to be very durable over the years and they have a relatively low price point. On the negative side of things, they do slip easier than foam and they also are not breathable, which can be very frustrating for any athlete.
The other main material you’ll find on the market is, of course as we hinted, foam. Foam is a material that is usually a little bit heavier than gel, but that is with a reason. Foam is heavier to help with longer durations of exercise or activity. On top of that, it is able to be super breathable just because the material itself is much more conducive to being so than gel is able to be. A lot of times, the thickness of foam is going to be greater than gel, so that is only naturally going to tend to make this type of insole heavier, as hinted at above. They do not last quite as long as gel does, however, so that is one thing to keep in mind. On the positive side, they are very supportive to the arches and conform well over time to your specific foot, both of which are massively instrumental in your level of happiness- or lack thereof.
Types of Insoles
Inside of insoles, you might not think there are a lot of different types, but that is actually far from the truth. There are all kinds of shapes and sizes you can find, even if you do tend to find a certain more than others. Here is a quick look at some of the types you can find out there as you look for something to either relieve your pain or give you maximum comfort.
The so-called ‘traditional’ look is going to be very much familiar to you. This type of insert is going to look just like the inserts that come with the shoes you have. If you pull those out, you’ll see that they run the full length of the shoes from the front to the back. With this type, you will see a couple of different variations used. You may have to order them custom to get them to match your exact foot, or you may have to get a pair and then trim them down from a larger size. Whatever the case may be, this type is by far the most traditional simply due to them giving the whole foot padding.
Sometimes you may only have a certain part of the foot that is sore, and you will want to target that spot. A metatarsal pad helps to do just that by placing a pad beneath the middle part of the foot. This seems like a strange place at first glance to place a pad, but it makes perfect sense due to the fact that the balls of the foot can take a serious pounding from running. This is particularly the case for runners that have either high arches or flat feet. For someone that is just looking to shore up this area, it’s hard to go wrong with this selection.
Lastly, we will make mention of what we refer to as “heel pads.” Heel pads are going to, you guessed it, provide more padding to the heel area of the shoes. This area is a place that is rife for all sorts of pains, from heel spurs to plantar fasciitis, so it is easy to see how they would be useful for you for sure. The great thing about heel pads is that you don’t have to ever worry about having to trim them up to get the right size since they only extend so far. The only thing you have to do is make sure to get a pair of them within your size range, that way they are wide enough for your feet or won’t be too wide!
2/3 Length Inserts
Another type of insert that does not run the entire length of the shoes is that of the 2/3 length insert. This type has a lot of different uses and looks, but at the end of the day they do not extend all the way to the toes. This keeps you from having to do measuring and can also save some of that cold hard cash as well.
Heel pads are one thing, but a heel lift is another altogether. While both are useful, they each have a purpose that the other can’t fulfill. A heel lift’s job is to take your heels up off the ground so as to take pressure off the calves and tendons in that area and in the ankles. This type can also be used to help compensate for one leg being longer than the other. With that being said, it is best to consult with a specialist about this before you resort to trying it because there may be better ways of correcting it than a self diagnosis of sorts.
We made mention of them earlier, but there are also orthotics out there. Some inserts will claim to be ‘orthotic’ in nature, but what we mean to refer to are those that are actually suggested by a doctor. If you need more protection in their eyes, you might end up getting one of these. They usually cost more and have the same sorts of shapes, but they will be customized to you in a bid to improve the way you feel as you walk and run.
Pain Relief vs Comfort
While there are a wide array of reasons for you to be considering turning to an insole, one of the things you need to have in mind is whether you are looking for something that is going to help you reduce the amount of pain you are experiencing or if you are looking to get the utmost in comfort that you possibly can. The one that you select is going to say a lot about the process here. If you are someone that has been diagnosed with some sort of condition, then you’re much more likely to lean toward the former: relieving pain. You will have a reason to want to relieve pain. It doesn’t mean you can’t be comfortable, mind you, it just means you aren’t looking for a good, general insole. If you are going into the pain relief niche, you should expect to pay a little bit more as well. That’s because the insoles are going to tend to be thicker and made up of better materials. This does not always equate to a longer lifespan, so keep that in mind. As for those that are just running and want to have maximum comfort, there are plenty of choices, too. You don’t always have to pay a fortune to get that, as you can enhance your comfort level for a few bucks sometimes. Within the realm of comfort insoles, there are a couple of choices to pick from. You can go with a pair that is supportive for your arches, perhaps, or you can pick something that is more cushioned. If your shoes don’t do so well in one of those two areas, then you will know which to pick fairly easily and will be much better placed to make a decision.
One thing you have to keep in mind with insoles is that they are a lot like shoes. Shoes can’t be used for any and all activities. You can’t wear cleats on the basketball court, and you don’t want to wear your high top Converses on the football field. Those are both recipes for disaster, to say the least. In much the same vein, you have to think about how well you will be able to cross over insoles, too. Generally speaking, it is entirely possible to take the same insole and go from one sport or activity to the next. It’s just the practicality factor, however, that is the part you have to worry about. For example, you may not have much time to take your inserts out and put them in each pair you wear. Sometimes it’s easy to swap them over, but other times it’s downright infuriating. You could find yourself with a pair of shoes that don’t have the insoles come out, or you might find that it’s too tricky to force them into your shoes. Maybe you don’t wear the same size in each shoe, either, and you don’t have the right fit. All of these can greatly impact your experience, so you have to think about the ability to ‘crossover’ if you do indeed want to use your insoles in multiple shoes. It takes discipline and a little bit of luck on some occasions to be able to do it properly.
Price and Value
One part of the equation you should be thinking about is the overall value that you get from your running shoes. While this might sound a little bit crazy, we can make a case here for spending up to mid double-digits and you being in the right to do so. We have hinted at shoes losing their cushion and support before, and if this happens to you, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world, even in a pair that costs a lot of money. If that’s the main issue with them, then you don’t have to throw them out just yet. Rather, you can turn to a pair of insoles. Even a costly pair of them can save you the money, at least for a while, of buying another expensive pair of shoes, thus saving you money and adding value to the picture.
Some other tips related to price and value include trying out a lower priced insole to begin with. Some people just don’t like going through the fuss or won’t like the feel of them, and it’s best to just pick something on the lower end so you don’t lose a ton of your money in doing so. The main point, however, is to just find a pair of insoles that are made from good materials and that will last you a while. If they are able to do that, then you are likely to be getting a great deal, regardless of the price you might pay for them.
The Top Ten Insoles for Running Reviews
GAOAG Gel Sports Insoles
If you want a good general, relatively low priced insert, then this is the way to go for you as you log the miles! These inserts are made to be breathable and have a number of things that will keep you and your feet happy. One of them is a deep heel cup that will lock the heels in and cushion them. Along with being a high arched insole, these are able to alleviate a lot of the pressure off of those problem areas and allow you to meet your goals without a ton of pain. The gel used does act like a spring, which helps to absorb shocks all the while taking as little energy out of you as possible at the same time. This helps those high wear areas take on less aches, helping you get a little further and do so a lot more comfortably than you imagined before.
- Very good price
- Good general insoles for comfort
- Deep heel cup absorbs well
Walk Hero Arch Support Insoles
Up next is a pair of insoles that take go to another level thanks to using better materials, such as EVA. This advanced type of foam is lighter than older types, but it’s also shown to be super durable and capable of excelling at absorbing shocks of all kinds. The emphasis on these inserts, which are full length, traditional, ones are in the heels, where there are deep heel cups built in to help maintain posture and keep the feet healthy during high impacts. With that said, they do offer a good amount of arch support, which is going to be helpful to those that are not able to be at a nice ‘neutral’ arch. They even do a great job with wider shoes, making them useful for those that don’t have the tiniest, daintiest of feet, which is not always the easiest items to find out there.
- Great for wider feet
- Very absorbent, especially in the heels
- EVA reduces weight and absorbs well
Physix Gear Sport Full Length Inserts
These full length inserts are far from the least expensive ones you will find out there, and they can get relatively expensive in some cases, but that’s because they cater to a certain group of users: those that need a good, robust support system in the arches. These do a great job at balancing out the forces put into the foot, giving you relief from a myriad of problems with your feet. On top of that, they have a super durable set of materials that are used, utilizing two layers of EVA to make them last longer without weighing you down with additional, unnecessary weight. Thanks to the rigid nature of them and the heel cup, as well as the fabric on the upper side of it, your feet will not slip thanks to them, allowing you to get your run in without worries. They’ve even got a 100% money back guarantee to further instill confidence in the consumer, too.
- Very balanced support
- Double layer of EVA
- Money back offer
- Can be a little expensive
Sof Sole Athlete Insoles
If you are looking for a good, mid priced option, then this is one of the best you’ll find out there. You won’t pay too little or too much for these, and you will get all kinds of support. That comes in the form of gel pads in both the fore foot and in the rear of the foot, helping to enhance the amount of cushioning available in each area tremendously. With a neutral arch to them, almost all kinds of foot types will be able to use these well. Unlike so many in this genre, there isn’t a ton of cupping the heel, which makes them flatter and more of an even feel. Some people just don’t like how this feels, so it’s a nice diversion from that. With ‘Hyperlogix’ built in, the moisture is managed to keep you dry all day as well.
- Just right with the price
- Very breathable design
- Gel pads enhance cushioning
Easyfeet Arch Support Insoles
Next up is another medium price point in the Easyfeet. These inserts are going to be a great fit for anyone that has problem due to their effectiveness at elevating the heels and displacing a lot of the energy put into those long, hard runs. The arch supports do a marvelous job at keeping the feet in place and not allowing you to over rotate your ankles. This means you will hopefully not pick up any new injuries and will improve your old ones as well. Made from firm TPU and a memory foam base, you will get both the rigidity you need and the softness as well to keep you comfy and to keep you on the run. With a one year guarantee to them, you can send them back for any reason if you don’t like them, making them ideal for anyone to give them a try.
- Stops rotation of the ankles
- Displaces a lot of energy
- One year guarantee
Dr. Scholl’s Shock Reducing Running Insoles
Dr. Scholl’s is known all over the world and there’s a very high likelihood you know them very well already. These inserts are made specifically for runners and come in at quite a low price. Like many of their products, this is very much geared more toward the ‘comfort’ aspect of running, though that doesn’t mean they aren’t good at absorbing blows. They do just that via the use of a triple zone protection, which has coverage in the heels the very middle of the foot and in the upper metatarsal area as well. This makes them able to absorb there, hopefully giving you the comfort you have been craving. They do require you to trim them, which can be annoying to go through, so that is a bummer. However, they do have a money-back guarantee, so that’s going to be a big boost that could make up for that bit of work you have to do.
- Good, low price
- Triple zone protection covers all of the foot
- Money back offer
- Needs you to trim them up a bit
Currex RunPro Running Comfort Insoles
If you don’t mind paying quite a bit extra over the price of an ordinary pair of insoles, then these from Germany are likely to be right in your wheelhouse. These inserts are made to be very customizable, though you do not end up paying all of that extra cost of an orthotic. That’s because the color pick corresponds to your arch type, helping you to get the most protection without having to be lumped into one big category as so many others do on the market. Like the Dr. Scholl’s above, these have three zones that are emphasized, with the heels, the middle of the foot, and the balls of the feet all getting gel pads that help absorb harsh blows to the feet. Their ability to conform to the arches is just exceptional and it helps set them apart to reduce energy loss and to give you more breathability all the while.
- True fits for all arch types
- Absorbs extremely well
- Breathes and reduces loss of energy
- Very high price
VOCOFA Arch Support Insoles
If the main thing you seek is to have more support in the arches, then these insoles are just the way for you to go. You can really tell this to be the case, too, as they emphasize the back of the foot, with an extended gel pad that covers the heels with a V-like shape. There is also a metatarsal pad, of sorts, beneath that part as well to help enhance that, but the main bulk of the work goes into making sure your arch is supported. Those areas are made from Nylon, which is a nice change that helps them to be even more durable than gel normally is. There is memory foam in both the balls of the feet and in the heels, too, which is going to be very welcoming and will give you a lot of positivity as you return to your shoes and know a truly good fit is at the toe tips, if you will. With a very nice, affordable price and a money back guarantee tacked on, too, it’s hard to go wrong with them.
- Reinforced heels
- Memory foam cushions
- Very affordable
Superfeet Run Comfort Running Insoles
These are highly regarded out there in the world, but like the pair from Germany, they are quite expensive and thus have dropped some in our list. Nonetheless, they are excellent at what they do, using what they call an ‘aerospring’ dual comfort foam, which is two layers of foam that work in unison to promote much more comfort and durability than many of the offerings in the same niche. This also helps them to be much less tiring on the feet, meaning you should be able to go longer without getting as worn out as quickly. One note to make about these is that these are very much geared toward those with a medium to high arch, so people with flat feet should steer clear of them to avoid nasty injuries or conditions from forming. With a very deep heel cup and a ‘cap,’ these are very stable and work overtime to bounce back and support you during the toughest portion of your day.
- Extremely advanced technology
- Less fatiguing
- Bounces back and supports well
- High cost
- Not for flat feet
New Balance 3720 Arch Stability Insoles
New Balance are known for making very supportive shoes, and they extend that knowledge out to insoles here as they seek to give you more stability in the arches than you are accustomed to with these 3720 stability insoles. These do run the full length of the shoes to help give you a better fit, but they do have an emphasis placed upon the metatarsals, where they are padded very well to prevent you from slipping and to give you more cushioning there. The heel and the fore foot are both cushioned, but they are done so separately so that each gets the proper amount of focus put on them to help better target those areas. With a molded fit, you’ll find yourself feeling as if you have been to the specialist and gotten them fitted, such is their level of usefulness. They are quite expensive, so that is one reason they have dropped this low on our list.
- Very trusted name in comfort
- Very well padded in the metatarsals
- Molded fit
- High price to pay
Conclusion And Final Insoles for Running Recommendations
Finding insoles is not exactly the easiest thing that you can do on the market. There are a plethora of them, and a lot of them make claims that they simply can’t back up. While some are going to fall short, many will reach your expectations, provided they are looking to correct an issue that you have. Not all runners are the same. As you can tell from our guide, each of our bodies are different and cause some of the issues that we end up having. Shoes are mass produced, and they are not always the answer for everyone. So, when you find yourself in a lurch and you want to quit, a good pair of insoles that fit you might just be what keeps you in the race!
FAQ’s About Insoles for Running
How Long Will My Inserts Last?
The durability is going to come down to a number of factors, such as the materials used to make them, the quality of the construction process, the brand they are from, and how well you wear and care for them according to instructions. With that said, everything has its shelf life, if you will. Your running shoes only have so many miles on them, so your inserts also need to have that as well. A good general rule of thumb is that you should replace your inserts when you replace your shoes. Another good way to determine if you need to make a change is to take a glance at the wear and tear. A little bit of loss of color isn’t awful, but if they are deteriorating rapidly, an alteration is an absolute must have. Also, if you notice that you are much more sore than you have ever been before, that’s a pretty good indicator that you have wore them out and need to call it a day with them.
What If My Inserts Smell?
One of the most common problems with any footwear is going to be that they leave odor. For some of us, this is just a fact of life. We know that we are going to have odors ahead of time. If this is you, you’ve got a couple of good options. For one, you can try using baking soda inside of them. However, if you don’t want to go through a physical process of cleaning, then you’ve always got the opportunity to go with an insole that is made with antibacterial properties. By attacking the fungi and bacteria, these insoles are able to resist the odors by not allowing them to build up.