Best Insoles for Running Reviewed for Comfort and Performance
Over the counter insoles provide benefits that you simply can’t get with stock insoles – such as added comfort as well as ankle and back support. Insoles are arguably the most important component of a running shoe due to the aforementioned features, and come in many different form factors and budget options, that will suit anyone’s needs.
The debate has long held around whether or not insoles or custom orthotics really are needed for runners or any athletics that put exceptional pressure on the foot or are high impact sports. And the general resounding answer? Time and again, it all comes down to just how individual each person’s foot is, and what level of comfort and support they need to remain injury free, while pushing the limits of their training. For some, that is a more expensive customized orthotic insert, but for others, it just may be an extra thin layer of cushion to help absorb impact from logging long hours pounding the pavement.
- SOLE Softec Ultra-U
- Strong Support
- Thick Cushioning
- Powerstep Original Full Length
- Ultra Thin
- Pedag 2806 Washable
- Cotton and Textile
Insoles can be composed of gel providing a bit of a heavier cushion but of course with added flex and mobility, while others can be made of lightweight Polypropylene. Over the counter running insoles cater to a variety of different shoe sizes and styles, and are made to perform different functions. Check below for our top picks of insoles for running to help you select one that may best suit your specialized foot needs!
10 Best Insoles for Running
1. SOLE Softec Ultra-U
Sole Softec is designed with 20% recycled material, and is moldable to your unique foot over time. A polyester weave on the top layer of the insert promotes a wicking action to leave your feet dry, and is also made with 35% recycled materials. You can feel good about placing these in your running shoes for a quick trail run!
Designed to help pronation imbalances, the arch support found in the Ultra-U provides just enough support without being excessively rigid. A heel cup helps to stabilize the heel, and give proper heel to toe exchange during foot strikes. EVA and PU blend keep this insole cushioned, light, and supportive, and with a 3.2mm thickness, you can long in those longer runs without pain.
Cost and Value
On the more expensive side of insoles, but by no means over the top, these are a quality buy for runners who find themselves logging over 20 miles a week, or go long on a regular basis. The additional arch support and cushion can help keep your feet and run going instead of fading due to tired arches and pain. A great investment for advanced runners!
- Moisture Wicking
- Recycled Materials
- Thick cushion
- Heel Cup
- May Need Sizing Adjustments
2. Powerstep Original Full Length
Being lightweight is obviously a huge key factor when looking for an insole, and the Powerstep Originals fit the description perfectly. Their ultra-thin design is composed of Polypropylene materials and also features dual layer cushioning to be both comfortable and suitable for essentially all styles of shoes.
Semi-Rigid Arch Support
The full-length Powerstep insoles boast a firm yet also flexible shell as well as arch support and a heel cradle. Added arch and heel support are great to have when looking for insoles because they provide a level of versatility and safety that you can’t get with regular insoles.
Cost and Value
There's no question why Powerstep has become one of the leading brands in the insole market as their products are extremely well made, and are of excellent quality in general. Seeing as the price is nothing too high, these insoles make a perfect budget and high-quality option for running insoles.
3. Sof Sole Neutral Arch
As mentioned above, the heel is protected with gel which is why this insole is so great for higher impact activities. With the addition of the gel heel pad, the forefoot is given much more comfort for long term usage.
Being able to wick moisture efficiently is obviously extremely important for athletic shoes. Hydrologix Techonolgy is one of the best options out their in this department and is sure to keep your feet free of sweat when out exercising.
Cost and Value
These full-length neutral arch insoles are a fantastic budget option for all types of athletic training specifically higher impact activities. Also Offering great protection and comfort when out exercising, theirs no question why these insoles are such a popular choice among athletes.
- Neutral Arch
- Gel Heel Pads
- Double as Atheltic and Casual Soles
- High Quality Foam
- Moisture Wicking
- Quite thick
4. Powerstep Pinnacle
The foam base of the Pinnacle is made from EVA foam, durable for extended wear, and is combined with Variable Cushioning Technology. This provides targeted cushioning from a dual layer that acts similar to memory foam. It cushions areas of your unique foot where impact may be heavier during foot strikes on the ground.
The top layer of the insole is designed from an anti-microbial fabric, helping to keep bacteria from building up over time. This feature is especially helpful for those whose feet may perspire more so than normal, or for distance runners who spend long hours training. It helps to reduce heat and friction to keep your feet cooler and drier.
Cost and Value
Similarly priced as our number one pick, the Powerstep Pinnacle is a solid purchase for those looking for extra cushion during their runs. Ideal for keeping your feet dry and preventing the buildup of bacteria from hot sessions, it will have you going longer in comfort and keep your sneakers smelling good.
- Variable Cushioning
- Arch Support
5. SuperFeet Green Heritage
These premium insoles have a deep and supportive base for your heels providing fantastic shock absorption. In addition, the base is also shaped in such as way that reduces stress on the legs and feet to provide the best running experience possible.
The organic coating on the base of the sole eliminates odor to keep your shoes smelling great, as well as features breathable materials for great airflow. Closed-cell foam provides extra comfort and cushioning during longer sessions of training.
Cost and Value
Being a bit more expensive, the price is justified due to the nature of the insoles itself. The soles are rather large and a bit heavier than others insoles on the market which provides great stabilization, protection, and control. Overall while these may be slightly more expensive, the quality that comes with it is fantastic and great for larger volume, or roomier shoes.
- Organic components
- Works great with bigger shoes
- Free of latex
- Firm sole
6. SuperFeet Blue Premium
This was something that wasn't mentioned in the review of the Green Heritage, but is still a huge plus if any of you are nature lovers. SuperFeet has a thing for being eco-friendly so all of their insoles are composed of vegan and organic compounds which means their free of latex and other harsh materials, a great niche feature that helps save the earth!
High-density foam layers
The cushioning on these in soles are top of the line as they boast a fantastic shock-absorbing heel cup in addition to multiple layers of foam, which is what makes them so good for running long distances! Ideally these insoles should be utilized if your looking for intermediate levels of support without taking up too much space in the shoe.
Cost and Value
The higher price tag on this pair of insoles is to be expected as the materials used are eco-friendly and cost more than cheaper chemicals. With the price tag put to the side though, these really are a great pair of insoles that are quite unique, and can be used in any running environment especially for those long distance jogs.
- Vegan and earth friendly
- Great wearing variety
- Great for long distance running
- Supportive heel
- Comfortable high-quality foam
- A bit expensive
7. Nazaroo Flat Feet Orthotics
A composite fabric on this insole allows moisture wicking properties to pull dampness and sweat away from your foot, helping to keep you cool. Combine this aspect with the EVA anti-microbial treatment the insole has, and your insoles will remain odor free and discourage bacterial growth. Great for individuals who love intense training and work up a sweat!
Arch support is found in these inserts to help distribute weight properly, and an anatomically design cradles the heel allowing stability. A latex pad is built into the insoles to help absorb shock and cushion your foot during workouts or general wear. Structural support is key for overpronators to help guide the foot to a more natural gait.
Cost and Value
Definitely a budget friendly option, Nazaroo Flat Feet Orthotics are a perfect option for those looking to try out their first pair of insoles, who may not have worn them previously. They are simplistic in design, supportive, cushioned, and have anti-microbial treatment for odor-free results after use. With their 100% money back guarantee, it’s a smart purchase for anyone!
- 100% Guarantee
- Latex Sole Pad
- May Need to Adjust Size
- May Feel Hot
8. Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer
Spenco uses a polysorb polyurethane foam in their insole, which keeps it relatively lightweight. Thick cushion is found in the heel which helps to absorb high impact, and absorb shock from activities such as jumping or intense interval sessions running. An additional heel plug can be seen underneath the insert, which gives a little additional cushion. Forefoot crash pad design allows to alleviate forefoot pressure.
Nylon helps keep this insole slightly stretchy and flexible, helping to prevent blistering. The fabric has been treated for antimicrobial resistance to help control odor. EVA construction in the forefoot helps provide lightweight cushioning and energy return, so you can keep a spring in your step over longer sessions of training.
Cost and Value
One of the least expensive on our list, the Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer is ideal for those who need added cushioning and have a neutral arch. It’s ideal for cross training activities where high impact movements are performed with its superior cushion and heel plug. Be sure to check sizing, and adjust the insole should you need to so it fits perfectly in your shoes.
- Heel Pad
- Thick Cushion
- Cross Trainer
- High Impact
9. ViveSole Plantar Fasciitis
The arches on this pair of insoles are simply amazing, you notice the difference as soon as you try on the soles for the first time. In an effort to reduce back pain when running as well as walking, the reinforced arches do a great job in absorbing shock and protecting your foot as well as the rest of your body.
Reduction odor is a big plus to any insole and VIVEsole has done a great job in this regard. As a result, the Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis are one of the best smelling as well as long lasting insoles of the market.
Cost and Value
These are a great mid-range option for runners as they aren't too expensive but still pack quite a punch in terms of keeping you safe and comfortable while out running. VIVEsole excels in pain relief, so the Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis are perfect if that's what you're looking for.
- Full length fit
- Great at pain relief
- Durable make
- Hard arch support
10. Pedag 2806 Washable
Using combined natural fibers and polyester material, Pedag 2806 Washable uses Deo Fresh technology to keep insoles smelling fresh, and prevent bacteria from forming. This technology incorporated a permanent antimicrobial property to the fibers of the insole, which cannot be washed out. Best of all, the sisal fibers and treatment are certified to be gentle on skin and the health of your skin, so no need to worry!
Soft Feel Cushioning
The Pedag 2806 is a washable insert, and made from all natural sisal fibers and cotton terry. They’ll feel comfortable and soft against the skin of your soles, but don’t lack when it comes to extra cushioning. If you’ve ever wondered what running barefoot in your sneakers feels like, that is just what these insoles were designed for. Note these won’t offer support in the form many others on our list do, but their unique washable construction and cushion can be appreciated by minimalists.
Cost and Value
By far the cheapest option on our list, don’t let the minimalist construction fool you to thinking they won’t provide cushion. Designed more for cushion than support, they are ideal for neutral arch runners who just need a little extra comfort, or those who like to train sockless. Antimicrobial fibers keep these odor free, and you can easily hand wash them should they get a little dirty. Great value for consideration for your next pair of insoles.
- Budget Friedly
- Cotten and Textile Cushion
- Minimal Cushion
Hopefully the variety of options in our list has shown that insoles can help running be more comfortable with any sort of unique need the wearer may have. From pronation correction and support, to added cushioning, there is an insole suited for your needs, but it may still be best to consult a podiatrist if your insoles aren’t providing any noticeable benefit. They can help either diagnose the issue, or prescribe customized orthotics to help you accel to the next level.
Purchasing over the counter insoles may be an unpopular practice for many, but it provides a hand full of health benefits that improve day to day life. In terms of running insoles, over the counter options can include gel or foam constructions with plenty of features and foot shapes to fit exactly what you need. In an effort to reduce running related ankle, back, and other injuries, buying insoles tailored specifically for running may be something you should look into. Happy trailing!
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Insoles for Running
The material insoles are made of can give some indication as to their comfort and cushioning. Many inserts consist of gel or foam, while others remain minimal and use cotton or textile materials. Others have hybrids of these materials. All of these types were chosen because they are the most popular among insoles and provide enough versatility to cover different needs based on the individuals preference.
- Gel –
Gel, rather than foam in most cases, is a lot lighter and catered towards those who have pain when walking/running for extended durations. Obviously, gel insoles can provide top of the line pain relief and are more of a therapeutic type sole as they are marketed as “massaging gel insoles”. On the other hand, gel insoles can play a more important part in impact related exercises as the material is more suited for managing stress than foam is. For example, the Full-Length Neutral Arch Insole by Sof Sole although mainly composed of foam, has a gel heel for reducing the shock associated with cross fit and running.
Somethings to note is that using a gel based insole compared to another material is really based on the individuals preference. Some athletes don’t like the feel of a gel insole as they can tend to be heavier than other materials.Pros
- Budget friendly
- Easy to clean
- Retains shape
- Great for impact
- Require socks to prevent slippage during heat and perspiration
- Not a breathable material
- Foam –
Foam on the other hand is more for long, drawn out running as the materials are quite comfortable and can withstand a lot of stress; much like the gel insoles can. In addition, foam insoles are superior when it comes to moisture wicking features as well as breathability. The Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis insoles by Nazaroo feature a much more breathable body than any gel insole could have due to the nature of the materials used.Not all foam is created equal either. Some foam is a blend of materials and will vary in stiffness, to either add extra cushion, or be slightly more firm for high impact use. Most foam insoles will conform to your foot over time, so no area will really be without some sort of support or cushioning.Pros
- Comfortable and soft
- Conform to your unique foot shape
- Reduce fatigue and shock absorption
- Great for fitness or non-fitness related uses
- Usually have a solid base to help support arches.
- Not as durable as Gel insoles, and may wear out more quickly
- Depending on blend of material used, they can get warm, so be sure to find one that has some breathability to it.
In the end it all comes down to what you’re looking for in general. Foam and Gel insoles can cover a majority of users needs and preferences, but if you’re looking for additional options, you can always consider air insoles (not included here), but do note they can run more expensive than foam or gel insoles.
Pain Relief and Comfort
Pain relief and comfort for the most part go together because if you’re comfortable, odds are you aren’t experiencing any pain. Both pain relief and comfort are two huge components that an insole has to deliver because it essentially dictates whether or not you’re going to invest in the sole in the first place. Stock insoles for the most part, aren’t high enough quality to fix pain associated with exercising, which is why both of these features were taken into account when making our list.
One of the main reasons why insoles are purchased is pain relief, and when running, making sure you aren’t straining or damaging any bones/muscles is extremely important. Every insole on our list aids in pain relief although some may be better at it than others. Pain relief also subsections down into shock absorption as this is also another very important feature in reducing the stress applied on your foot when running.
It’s important to note that if you’re experiencing prolonged pain, you may want to see a podiatrist to make sure there are no serious issues. Most pain from running can come from pronation that is not supported or stabilized, heel spurs, bunions, hammertoe, high or flat arches that require extra cushion or structural support, or even bow-leggedness. If you do experience pain, try to select an insole that provides structural support as well as cushion for running.
If insoles don’t cut it, you can always switch to orthotics, some of which are listed here as well. Orthotics are slightly different than insoles as they will have further frim support in the arch to help correct pronation and stabilize the foot.
Comfort is another big one because sometimes you just get that shoe that’s just awful to wear whether it be casually, or for exercising because a number of contributing factors. Perhaps the fit isn’t quite right, or it fits great but lacks adequate cushioning. Both Gel and Foam insoles are great for comfort, creating great synergy with footwear you already own. The BLUE Premium Insoles by SuperFeet for example are a foam insert and one of the most comfortable insoles on the market. On the other hand, Heel pad insole above has a thick foam heel pad that doubles as a pain relief feature for high impact activities.
When you think about what comfort in a pair of running shoes means for you, think about a few key points in terms of selecting what insole can help you best.
Do your favorite running shoes simply just have worn arch support that no longer gives you structural stability you need? If so, something like an orthotic with firmer arch support could be a good option as an insert for you.
Does your favorite sneaker simply have cushioning that’s become matted down from use, or lost its ability to provide any sort of impact absorption? You may find your feet simply being a bit sorer after your runs if this is the case. Here, an insole with foam, gel, or other cushioning throughout the entirety of the insert could benefit you best. Options on our list include thick foam to minimalist cushion.
- Intended Use
Are you doing more than just running in your sneakers? Some insoles are designed for a running gait in terms of support, and where extra cushioning may be found in their design. If you plan on doing some cross training, select an insole where shock absorption is found in the heels and toes, as well as some structural support laterally or in the arch for stability.
Lastly, if you haven’t tried a pair of insoles or orthotics previously, before tossing your favorite pair of running shoes, it’s a good idea to invest in a budget friendly insole just to see if you can get more life from those sneakers without purchasing an entirely new pair. Many times, cushion in a running shoe can be the first thing to go, and insoles will help prolong the life of that cushioning until other aspects of the sneaker require a full replacement pair. And, if you like the insoles you do purchase, you can wear them in other shoes you have in your collection for comfort during any event, work, or casual stroll about town!
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How often should you change your shoe inserts?
A: Typically, if you wear your insoles normally a pair of high quality shoe insoles will last you around 8 months. When the insoles begin to start showing wear and you notice when they start becoming ineffective it’s probably time to get a new pair of insoles.
Q: Can I put my insoles in the washing machine?
A: Of course, you should always check the packaging as well as the brand website FAQ on this question in particular for best results. In most case’s you can wash foam or textile insoles with lukewarm water and a mild detergent or soap. Some you can even toss into the washing machine on a gentle cycle. Make sure not to let the insoles soak in the water too much as it will ruin them, but of course results may vary depending on the insole you have. Gel insoles can be washed with and cleaned with soap and water as well, but don’t toss these into the washing machine!
Q: What is the “Drop” in the insole?
A: The drop simply means there is no space or “drop” between the shoe and the forefoot. Standard shoes usually have a 12mm drop whereas insoles don’t usually have this heel to toe differential.
Q: How do you get the smell out of your insoles?
A: One of the best ways I’ve found to deodorize your shoes is to apply a small amount of baking soda into the soles and then place them into a plastic bag and then in the freezer over night. However, if this is a concern for you, antimicrobial treated insoles are available, and several are cited on our top ten list above. Antimicrobial treated inserts help to keep bacteria from clinging to the insoles, and help keep shoes and insoles smelling fresh. Additionally, you can wash with soap and water with a damp towel or rag to help scrub out any bacteria sitting in the foam or fabric.
Q: How do I trim my Insoles?
A: Here’s a chart I found on the SuperFeet website that explains how to trim your insoles: (all credit to SuperFeet)