Over-the-counter insoles are taking the industry by storm. Long an accessory afterthought or an expensive prescription option, they are stepping up their pace in two major burgeoning categories: performance and wellness/pain relief.
Runners are inserting them into their shoes in the hopes of running the race without getting aching feet. As the category expands–some shoe brands, notably New Balance, have added insoles to their lineup–there will come a time, in the not too distant future, when footbeds will be standard features in every shoe style from high heels to flip-flops.
10 Seconds Flat Foot Sport
The only patented full-length insole that keeps the feet in alignment with the ankles, knees and hips, thereby stopping over-pronation and relieving pain. Invented by orthopedic surgeon Michael Pryce, who had flat feet, the insole features Poron cushioning; an anti-blister top cover; and a Biostatic anti-microbial top cover. ($35)
The pre-fabricated insole, a companion to the brand’s other sports-specific footbeds, has a deep heel cup, triple layers for optimum moisture wicking; dynamic arch technology made from silver Nylon 6 composite for natural foot guidance; a special forefoot material that fosters dynamic propulsion; a Poron cushion; a decoupled heel for reduced pronation; and a zero millimeter drop. It weighs in at 1.41 ounces (medium size). As do the brand’s other insoles, the RUNPRO has a different design, rigidity of the arch and height for the 15 sizes it is offered in. ($49.95)
Dr. Scholl's EDGE
EDGE Sport, a trim-to-fit insole that retails for $24.99, helps reduce muscle fatigue in the arms and legs. It offers layered comfort: massaging gel waves, an arch shell and gel heel pad.
EDGE Sport +, $34.99, helps prevent pain for those with shin splints, runner’s knee and plantar fasciitis. Its triple zone protection system – thick ball of foot; proprietary arch design and heel padding – reduces shock by 40 percent. The brand will introduce Plantar Fasciitis, Boot, Cool and Dry insoles later this year.
An in-store custom-molded insole designed for performance athletes and those who engage in robust recreational activities. With its stiffer core that provides support for wearers with excessive over-pronation, it works well with stiffer footwear such as steel-shank hiking and mountaineering boots. ($79.99)
New Balance IUAS 3810
It is packed with technical features: It has Absorb pods with Poron to provide shock absorption and cushioning at the heel and forefoot; a contoured metatarsal arch rise that redistributes pressure and can help prevent and provide relief from plantar fasciitis, Morton’s neuroma and metatarsalgia; and an anti-blister, Microzap anti- bacterial top cover. The latex- and PVC-free insole also has a deep heel cup and external heel and arch support.
PinnaclePink offers women a fashionable—as well as supportive and cushioning—option for their running shoes in a market dominated by male- centric designs and colors.
The same design as Powerstep’s best-selling Pinnacle orthotic, it has a polypropylene shell encased in dual-layer shock-absorbing cushioning that features targeted, controlled cushioning; built-in arch support and heel cradle to control motion; and a heat- and friction-reducing top fabric. ($37.95)
Shock Doctor Womens Ultra
Engineered for female athletes, these are part of a new sub brand called Shock Doctor RE+, a collection of performance-improving, wellness/athlete care and recovery products that also includes sports medicine/sports therapy, compression sleeves and socks and ice therapy wraps. The insoles, which are narrower through the heel and mid-foot, feature an arch that adapts to the foot shape, a motion-control bar that aligns the foot to reduce body stress; full-foot recycled ethylene vinyl acetate foam and shock pads; and a mid-foot shock dome that relaxes the foot and helps relieve plantar fasciitis.
Sof Sole FIT
These have been redesigned for 2015 to fit specific foot types and provide extra comfort and stability. It features new shock-absorbing ethylene vinyl acetate foam density for each arch type (low, neutral and high); more stabilizing heel and arch plates; and a softer more comfortable top cover.
SOLE Softec Response Footbed
These are heat- or wear-molded to the feet for a custom fit. Comprised of a one-piece variable-density ethylene vinyl acetate base, the insole reduces plantar fascia strain, increases balance and feel and improves natural-heel cushioning. Features include 1.6 millimeters of Softec cushioning topped with a moisture-wicking top sheet, generous arch support and a deep heel cup.
Sorbothane Women's Ultra
Available in a women’s and men’s version, these are designed to absorb shock and return energy. It gets its signature from Sorbothane, a material that cradles the foot in comfort and protects the body by absorbing 94.7 percent of the impact shock, in the heel insert and strategic gel pods. It also has a lightweight, contoured base that cups the heel and supports the arch; a Poron liner to fight moisture and fungus; and a brushed polyester fabric top cover.
Spenco Total Support
These offer different cushioning and support depending on the wearer’s activities and preferences. The insoles, $39.95, feature metatarsal pads; pods of varying degrees of hardness beneath tune movement and reduce over-pronation; medial, lateral and transverse arch support; a deep heel cup; and the First Ray metatarsal to drop naturally to promote a more natural transition into the next gait cycle.
The brand’s thinnest insole is made of EVOLyte, a blend of polymer that allows the stabilizer cap to be as strong as it is slim. CARBON, $54.95, sports a biomechanical shape, foam perforations under the forefoot and mid foot and an organic, odor-control coating.
These relax the cranial nerves by activating dermatomes or chiropractic neuro-points on the foot to feed the mid-brain region that controls exoskeletal muscle strength, the vestibular and respiratory systems and kinesthetic awareness. According to the brand, they increase power by 25 percent; improve range of motion by 15 degrees; improve balance by 10 percent; boost overall stamina and recovery; and reduce foot pain by 98 percent. Anatomically correct, they have a deep heel cup and are made of a comfortable polyurethane material.
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