What Shoe Insole is Best for Me?
There are many different reasons to buy shoe insoles. You might be experiencing foot pain and seeking relief; you might be looking for an insole for sports activities, such as running, tennis, or basketball; you may be looking to replace a worn-out pair of insoles that came with your shoes when you bought them. Because there are so many different products available and so many reasons to be shopping, we realize that choosing the right insole for your needs can be a daunting task, especially for first-time shoppers.
In this post, we will explain things to keep in mind while buying an insole or orthotic arch support!
Join us as we explain how to find your perfect insole!
Top Things to Keep in Mind When Buying a New Insole
There are a few things that you should keep in mind when buying a new insole or orthotic arch support:
- Insole Sizing: The sizing for an insole is usually denoted as a shoe size range. For example, “Men’s 9-11” (each manufacturer uses different sizing). For most full-length insoles, this is because the insoles are designed to be trimmed before use (trim-to-fit); the insole is manufactured to be used in a range of shoe sizes, and the consumer is expected to trim off any unneeded length from the end of the insole when placing the insole into their footwear. For 3/4-length insoles and other insert pieces, the size range on the product denotes the footwear sizes in which the insoles/inserts can be comfortably used; 3/4-length insoles and inserts are usually not designed to be trimmed in any way. If you are between sizes (you wear a size 9.5 when the insoles are sized “8-9” and “10-11”), you should buy the next size up.
- Insole Placement: If you purchase a full-length insole, you will most likely need to remove the existing insole from your shoe before placing your new one. Almost all full-length insoles are meant to completely replace the insole you are currently wearing; only very thin and flat full-length insoles can be comfortably worn in addition to your existing insoles. If you purchase a 3/4-length insole, you will place this insole on top of your existing shoe insole. 3/4-length insoles are meant to be worn along with your existing shoe insole. If you purchase an insert piece, you will place this insert either on top or below your existing shoe insole, depending on the specific item purchased (inserts come with instructions for proper placement).
- Your Foot Arch Type: The arch of one’s foot usually conforms to one of three different arch types: 1) neutral or medium arches, 2) low arches, flat feet, or fallen arches, and 3) high arches. Similarly, every insole is designed to work with one or more of these foot arch types. When browsing insoles, you should first identify what your foot arch type is (more on that below), and only browse insoles that are designed to work with that foot arch type. Wearing an insole that is not designed for your arch type will likely be painful! For a video tutorial of how to determine your foot arch type, click here.
- Insole Footbed Type: In general, insoles and orthotic arch supports have one of four different footbed constructions: 1) rigid orthotic arch support, 2) semi-rigid orthotic arch support, 3) cushioned arch support, and 4) no arch support/flat cushion. The type of footbed that you need will be heavily dependent on why you are looking for an insole, and you should be sure that you browse products with a footbed type that will suit your needs. We discuss the different footbed types in more detail here.
- Material: The four most common materials from which insoles are made are foam, gel, cork, and leather. Each has their advantages, and the material you choose is largely based on preference. In general, however, foam works best for cushioning, support, and pressure relief; gel works well for shock absorption; cork works well for support and slight cushion; and leather works well for cushion and “feel” (especially when worn with thin socks).