The insole of a shoe is one of the most important comfort components but is often overlooked. An insole is the foam layer that sits inside your shoe. Your foot directly touches the insole and sometimes it’s a bit contoured and sometimes it is just a flat piece of foam. In many athletic shoes, the insole is removable. The most famous example of an insole is those Dr. Scholls insoles you see in the drugstore aisle. Other terms for the insole are after-market footbed or orthotic.
An example of the insoles that our shoes come with.
I’ve touched on how important it is to have a great insole in previous articles, but let’s really break this down. Unfortunately, the insole is the first place that footwear companies cut costs. They expect you will replace the insole with a new insole that is made for you. Except they don’t let you in on this little bit of information.
Why is it removable?
I’ll let you in on a secret. The first place that footwear companies cut costs is in the insole. Why do they do that if it’s the most important comfort feature? Short answer, they assume you will remove it and purchase an upgraded insole that better fits your foot increasing the overall price of your shoes. Some footwear companies that sell shoes, also sell after-market footbeds, and will hit you with the up-sale or add-on sale.
No, not like the makeup. The contour of the insole is a feature that is important to your specific feet. The goal of an insole is to keep our foot in a “neutral” position. The more neutral your foot alignment the better alignment of your ankle, knee and hip joints. It’s rare that feet are perfectly aligned in a neutral position. Queue the need for insoles!
Most insoles specialize in foot pronation and supination. Learn more about pronation here. If your foot pronates, you bear most of your weight on the inside (medial) of your foot. If your foot supinates, you bear most of your weight on the outside (lateral) of your foot. You can check your foot alignment by looking at the bottom of your shoes. Where do you notice the tread of your shoe is worn most?
We get it, your heels hurt, burn and go numb. It’s one of the most painful sensations in your foot because you can’t help but bear weight on your heels when you stand or walk! For some reason, your heels throb even when you lay down. There is also nothing more painful than getting ready for work 12 hours later and having to put those same shoes on with that worn-in feeling on your heels.
If you look at your heel pad, it has very complex curves to it. Your heels are by no means flat, therefore the padding in your shoes should not be flat. In order to have the best support around your heel, your insole should cup and cushion properly.
Fun fact: Over time with more standing and age, you lose the fat in your heel pad. You might notice that over time your heel pain worsens. Read more on heel pain.
Because the insole is the footwear component that closely touches your foot, the materials it is made with needs to transfer the moisture from your sweaty foot away from your feet to keep them dry. This transfer of moisture is called wicking and you want the moisture to wick away from your foot and onto a material that dries quickly. Many times to help that material dry quickly, air holes are added to the shoe and to the insole itself. There are a few other comfort components to consider in breathability. But in regards to the insole, another result of what happens when your feet are not able to breathe is odor. Odor is caused because the bacteria from your sweaty feet never dries and then your shoes and feet stink. Certain anti-microbial properties and solutions are added to the materials to help mitigate the growth of bacteria.
What is the real solution for sweaty feet, and why are the bottom of your feet getting so sweaty to begin with?
One of the main reasons your feet are getting so hot is that while you walk, there’s a ton of friction happening inside your shoe. We try to reduce this friction by offering linings and insole top covers to prevent rubbing. The top cover is the material that you see on top of your insole, many times is it just a different type of knit material. Take a look inside your current shoes, what types of linings do you notice? Are they rough, or are they smooth? All of these little details make a huge difference in the performance of your comfort.
This information may be really overwhelming. If you are overwhelmed, shoot us a message or go to your local sit-and-fit shoe store or running store. They will tell you all about the benefits of an insole and take a look at your feet and give their suggestions. We always want to hear from you, please drop a comment if you have any questions!