A friend of mine asked me about the insoles I wear. She had been having issues with pain and some discomfort in her heels. Because I had been wearing insoles for years, I expected her to know just as much as I do about them. I mean, they completely transformed the way I walk â literally. I assumed that she â and everyone else â knew all about insoles and how they work.
As it turns out, I was wrong. I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of FAQs (frequently asked questions) and answer as many questions as I could.
People buy and wear insoles for a variety of reasons, such as:
Some people wear insoles because theyâre on their feet all day at work and need the extra cushioning and relief.
But you can wear insoles for non-medical reasons, too. Maybe you want to add some height (insoles can add an inch or two to your height), or maybe you just want your shoes to be more comfortable. If you wear high-heeled shoes, insoles can improve your stability, cushion your feet and provide much-needed support.
Whenever I talk to people about insoles, the first question they ask is: What size should I buy?
Insoles are typically sold in size ranges. When you open the package, youâll see lines or ridges for each size. These are guide lines for trimming. Yes, youâll need to trim your insoles with scissors to fit your shoes. Although this does add an extra step, this design allows insoles to be sold on-the-cheap, and it actually allows for a more customized fit in the long-run.
If your shoe size falls in between two different size ranges, itâs best to buy the bigger size.
You donât want to skip the trimming step if youâre buying full-size insoles. Trimming off the extra material will ensure that the insole fits properly in your shoes and will cover your foot entirely.
If youâre buying 3/4-length insoles, you wonât have to do any trimming. These are sold to fit, so thereâs no cutting involved.
Insoles can be made from a wide variety of materials. Foam and gel are the two most popular materials, but youâll also find some that are made of cork or leather.
Foam is so popular because it provides cushioning, pressure relief and support all while conforming to your footâs natural shape. When designed properly, foam can also give you rigid arch support.
Gel is ideal for shock absorption, which is why theyâre often found in athletic-focused insoles.
Youâll find a lot of insoles that are made of both foam and gel.
Cork provides both support and cushioning. Leather feels nice on the foot, especially if you like to wear thin socks. But leather is usually only used to support other materials, like foam or cork.
When choosing your shoe insertsÂ , consider the material carefully, particularly if youâre sensitive to some materials.
If youâre an active person, whether itâs running, hiking or playing a sport, your feet probably take a beating. Intense physical activity puts excess strain on the feet. Shock absorption and some extra cushioning can go a long way in making your feet feel better.
Youâll find some insoles that are designed specifically for active people and offer these features.
Youâll also find orthotic inserts, which are custom-designed, and made for athletes. Orthotics improve your alignment while increasing your speed and efficacy.
The insole may be made of cork or foam, depending on whether you need cushioned arch support or a rigid base for complete arch support. Most will have gel for shock absorption and allow for a softer landing when youâre active.
Itâs important to take care of your insoles if you want them to last. Iâve written an entire post on how to take care of insolesÂ , but the process is relatively simple.
One thing I do have to stress is that you donât want to submerge or dip your insoles in water. A cloth-covered or foam-cushioned insole is particularly vulnerable to water damage. Thatâs why spot-cleaning is recommended.
Itâs important to allow your insoles to dry completely before you wear them again. If you need to wear them the next day, clean them the night before.
Make sure that you use a mild soap. Avoid using silicone-based cleaning products, as they may ruin the material.
If your insoles ever get waterlogged from the rain or snow, dry them with a clean towel and lay them flat to dry. Again, make sure that you let them dry out completely before you wear them again.
If youâre buying insoles, youâll probably need to remove the ones that came with your shoes â especially if youâre buying full-length insoles. If you donât remove the standard ones, your shoes wonât fit properly and will probably feel bulky or uncomfortable.
Don’t worry â the new insoles will provide more support and cushioning than the ones that came with your shoes.
If youâre buying 3/4-length insoles, then youâll need to keep the ones that came with your shoes. Because these are not full-length insoles, theyâll only cover a small part of your shoe.
Our feet are unique. Even if you and I wore the same sized shoe, our feet would still be different. They may be different heights, shapes or widths.
Because our feet are unique, over-the-counter insoles arenât ideal for everyone. Heat-moldable insoles are custom-made and take the shape of your foot.
Before wearing these insoles, youâll heat them up in the oven for a while. Then, youâll step on them before they cool down. This creates a perfect mold of your foot so that your insert fits properly when you wear it.
Yes. Insoles are usually sold in pairs and should be worn in pairs to ensure that both of your feet receive the same level of care.
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