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Do I need insoles for my running shoes?

There are three kinds of insoles that are commonly put into technical running shoes, in descending order of importance: manufacturer’s insoles, orthotics, and off-the-shelf insoles.

The manufacturer’s insole is the most common type. Manufacturers put insoles into almost all technical running shoes. Of the 62 different styles of technical running shoes that we currently carry, 60 have removable insoles. They are important because they help prevent blisters and give mild arch support.

Manufacturer’s insoles keep the foot in place


Feet shod in sneakers will move, forward and backward and left and right, during running. All that movement creates friction between the sock and the skin, and the friction increases the risk of developing friction blisters.

Unless you put an insole between the foot and the shoe.

If it’s smartly designed, an insole will be constructed with a top cover that will keep the foot from sliding around on top of it. The insole will slide around, not the foot. So the insole takes the brunt of the friction. The foot is less-likely to blister as a result.

Manufacturer’s insoles give gentle arch support


Insoles run beneath the foot and curve up along the medial side, approximately where the wearer’s arch would be. That makes them a kind of gentle arch support. They also curve slightly around the heel and curve up along the lateral side of the foot. The total effect of all the curves is that an insole conforms somewhat to the shape of the wearer’s foot. The insole, therefore, becomes a type of gentle support throughout the entire foot.

Orthotics and off-the-shelf insoles

Orthotics aim to change the way that bones move.  That’s the main difference between them and a manufacturer’s insole and an off-the-shelf insole. But orthotics don’t always change the function of the bones that they were made to effect. Even when orthotics do achieve the objective, the new function does not always deliver the expected results. You should talk to a podiatric physician about orthotics. She or he will help you make a better decision about them.

Consumers can by a large number of off-the-shelf insoles to place in their shoes. Know the claim being made about the pair that you are considering. Then ask yourself if you want the particular benefit that’s being claimed. For example, if the claim is that the insole alleviates the discomfort of plantar fasciitis, but you don’t have that problem, then you may not need that particular product.

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Phil Clark