Insoles vs orthotics? Insoles vs no insoles? PT vs running shoe store recommendations?
There are a lot of opinions when it comes to our runners’ feet. At first it seems limited to the appropriate shoe, but oh so quickly we learn there’s a whole world of very expensive orthotics and affordable insoles, but do we need them?
Running insoles are a great TOOL, but should be the secondary piece to resolving any aches, pains or ongoing injuries.
What does that mean? It means after you jump on the treadmill and the super helpful folks at the running store have stared at JUST your feet and ankles while you run to determine you need a stability shoe or an insole, you’ve only been given part of the picture.
Maybe your foot is rolling inward because your hip strength is lacking.
Maybe your foot is collapsing in because your knee is collapsing in because you’re out of alignment.
In fact, those are both highly likely and super common in tons of runners, which means that an insole or stability shoe is like putting a band aid on something that needs stitches. It’s not gonna go the distance.
Once you’ve taken care of those issues however insoles can be a fantastic tool!!!
When I first started marathon running, I loved putting a super cushioned insole in to every single shoe because it just felt wonderful and allowed my body to work up to absorbing the impact of those longer runs.
Post knee surgery, I did physical therapy like it was my job, but we found my foot still wanted to collapse in just a tad. Instead of going for a shoe that would inhibit the natural motion of my other foot, an insole was the perfect solution.
Why Insoles Can be Good for Athletes?
We spend a lot of time thinking about the power in our glutes, stretching our hamstrings and working on our stride. Meanwhile our feet are slapping the ground over and over absorbing 2.5 times our body weight, whewwww.
Why wouldn’t we try to give them the best support possible?
I mean, why give up getting out to enjoy these views just because you aren’t taking care of your feet!One of the most common foot issues for runners is Plantar Fasciitis, an inflammation of the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. Checkout these stretches to help prevent it and my recommended insole from PROFOOT below to help keep you running.
Major Reasons to Use Insoles
But beyond that, there are other good reasons to consider an insole:
- If you’re having pain in your knees from the foot rolling in or flat arches
- If you’re building mileage and want a little extra cushion as the body adapts
- If you’re having foot pain (like a strained tendon) and this will lessen the load
- The right insole can help to distribute the load of your step more evenly
- The right insole can make running feel better, which means you’ll stick with it
- Correcting a foot imbalance will improve your alignment and posture to prevent injuries up the chain (i.e. knees, hips).
Once you’ve traced your root issue and started to work on it, using insoles can be a great part of the process to changing your mechanics or supporting the body as you get stronger.
What are the best insoles for running?
Well it’s always going to depend on what you need to resolve! Just like there are running shoes for different styles and different needs, the same goes for insoles, which means you need to not just grab the first pair you see.
My friends with Plantar Fasciitis will be psyched by this PROFOOT insole designed just for them. It’s designed with a high enough arch to support the fascia and redistribute the weight away from your heel where there’s also a gel shock absorber and a deep heel cup for better stability.
My dear husband who has super flat feet, leading to running with more pressure on his big toe, will benefit from something like the Flat Fix. This is a firmer insole to really support those low arches, while molding to the foot for your best fit.
It’s also similar to what I’ve been using since knee surgery as I continue to build back the full strength of that leg. Without it, my foot collapsing down means that my knee drifts inward…and we know where that leads us, right? Pain.
For those of you like me, who spend a lot of time on the roads, it can be beneficial to find an insole that doesn’t change your arch or gate, but instead simply provides more cushion to absorb the impact of the concrete jungle.
One of the worst offenders for runners are the dress shoes we squeeze our toes and heels in to for work or events.
My beloved Toms which have zero support are almost always going to be an issue if I walk around in them all day on vacation. Instead, slip in these PROFOOT Triad Orthotic insoles which are super thin and have a patented 3 zone fatigue fighting design (ohhh la la!).
What are the 3 zones this insole is hitting?
- Aligns the foot by supporting the arch
- Cushions your heel for the impact as you walk
- Gives the ball of your foot some love to eliminate that tired burning sensation
These insoles are designed to be 3/4 length so that your toes can still happily fit inside the shoe without feeling pressured or squeezed. This can be really helpful in running shoes that don’t have a removable liner because a standard full length insole gets too tight in the toebox in that case.Ever wondered if you should get those pricey orthotics or use insoles? The info you need! #runchat Click To Tweet
Insoles vs Orthotics?
While both serve the same purpose, one is markedly more expensive. Orthotics are custom made to fit your foot and specifically address any known issues from flat feet to pronation. This is where I want you to make sure you’ve got all the info you need!
Have you seen a physical therapist to first address your movement patterns or weaknesses? Or were these an instant recommendation from someone who has seen you one time?
Orthotics are a fantastic solution for many people and they can last up to 5 years, where the typical insole will need to be replaced every 5-6 months. But you can also get multiple insoles to plop in lots of shoes (hello that’s why I have different varieties of ProFoot for different shoes) for less than the cost of 1 insole which you need to move from shoe to shoe…because you are totally rotating your running shoes right?!
BONUS TIP: Epsom Salt
You know that I’m a HUGE fan of the epsom salt bath after long runs, but I don’t have time for that during the week. Now instead, I give my tired feet a quick dollop of PROFOOT Heel Rescue: Espom Salt Foot Gel. WHOOOOOP.
This is a leave on liquid gel which has aloe vera to moisturize our callused toes and mint to cool things down, along side epsom salt for relief.
All right, now you know all the in’s and out’s, the who’s and why’s of insoles so that you can make an informed decision for your feet.
Have you ever tried insoles? What worked for you?
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Checkout our full page of my must have running gear reviews and guides to save you time searching and money! I share what’s worked for me and fellow runners, along with what wasn’t worth the price tag.
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This post is sponsored by Profoot. All opinions are my own.