These days, you can buy running shoes with a range of very specific features.
From motion control or stability running shoes for runners who overpronate, minimalist running shoes for those who like the feeling of running barefoot, and even carbon fiber running shoes for runners looking for greater energy return.
Many runners, however, prefer to ditch the insoles that come with their running shoes and replace them with other tailored insoles for running that provide additional support, cushioning, stride control, or even a combination of all three.
But do running insoles work? What are the best insoles for running? Keep reading for a brief explanation of insoles for runners and our picks for the best insoles for running.
We will look at:
- Do Insoles for Running Shoes Help?
- Do Runners Need Custom Orthotics?
- The 6 Best Insoles for Running
Let’s get started!
Do Insoles for Running Shoes Help?
As many of us know, running injuries are unfortunately quite common. In fact, most surveys and estimates in research literature note that about 30-75% of runners experience an injury over the course of a year of training.
Furthermore, your feet are subjected to forces approximately 2-3 times your body weight when you run and research indicates you take approximately 1,400 steps per mile if you run at an 8-min per mile pace.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you land correctly on your feet and that your running shoes are adequately supported.
Insoles for running can help support the arch of the foot to control pronation and optimize your biomechanics.
They may also provide superior cushioning and shock absorption over the built-in insoles that come with your running shoes. Together, these benefits can potentially reduce the risk of injuries and keep your feet and legs feeling healthy and fresh.
Although research has been mixed, there have been several studies demonstrating the benefits of using insoles for running.
One study found that insoles with arch support improved shock absorption and propulsive force. Another study found that Dr. Scholl’s insoles for running reduced vertical loading rates by 16%. Higher vertical loading rates are associated with plantar fasciitis.
Well-made running insoles may be able to improve comfort, control motion, reduce overpronation, and support the arch.
Do Runners Need Custom Orthotics?
Nearly every podiatrist will report that custom orthotics are more effective than any off-the-shelf insole for running. Custom orthotics may be able to provide more support and control than OTC running insoles, so they can be a better option for runners with severe overpronation or foot issues.
However, custom orthotics can cost upwards of $600 or more, and not every runner needs maximal control.
Moreover, research has found that off-the-shelf running insoles – essentially any insole for running shoes you can buy online or in the store – is just as effective at reducing pain, preventing injuries, and providing comfort as expensive custom orthotics.
Therefore, if you get one of the best insoles for running, even if they’re just something you get on Amazon or your local drugstore, they might be just as helpful as something that will cost you hundreds of dollars more.
The 5 Best Insoles for Running
#1: Best Insoles for Running Overall: Superfeet RUN Comfort
Our pick for best running shoe insoles overall are the Superfeet RUN Comfort Insoles. They are firm and supportive, yet surprisingly well cushioned and comfortable.
They are made from high-tech, incredibly durable carbon fiber for reliable performance and efficiency without compromising your speed.
More than most running shoe insoles, these Superfeet orthotics seem to actually help control the foot to reduce overpronation and optimize the biomechanics of your running stride.
These lightweight insoles are designed specifically for runners, with features geared towards performance, injury prevention, shock absorption, and comfort while running.
There is a well-cushioned, deep heel cup to cradle your heel and reduce shock at heel strike, thanks to the Heel Impact Technology Pod, which disperses the force of impact over a larger surface area.
This can reduce the risk of shin splints and plantar fasciitis and make for a smoother heel-to-toe transition in your running stride.
The full-length insole also has full-length Aerospring rebound dual-comfort foam cushioning to provide shock absorption and reduce fatigue step after step, mile after mile.
Another nice feature is that these running shoe insoles have an Evolyte carbon fiber stabilizer cap, which provides energy return with every step. They are also moisture-wicking to keep your feet dry and minimize odors.
If you overpronate or have flat feet, these are one of the best running shoe insoles to help support your foot.
#2: Best ‘Smart’ Insoles: PowerInsoles
If you like to be on the cutting edge of the latest and greatest technology for runners, you’ll love Powerinsoles.
This ingenious product is wildly different from most insoles on the market. Rather than correct your running pattern, these small gel pads are integrated with a power chip technology designed to speed up recovery, relieve aches and pains, and prevent injuries. In our books, this unique technology makes them one of the most effective running shoe inserts.
Unlike full-length insoles for running, Powerinsoles are small gel pads that you stick inside the sole of your running shoes. The powerchip integrated into the pad, with magnets developed specifically to generate certain frequencies found to affect the body on a cellular level.
This might all sound snake oil-like, but there’s actually research to suggest that these inserts reduce recovery time and muscle soreness.
For example, according to research, wearing the Powerinsole can reduce joint inflammation by 24% and increase cell regeneration by 39.9%, both of which can potentially expedite recovery from exercise.
Furthermore, another study demonstrated that Powerinsoles reduced muscle aches by 34%, and there’s evidence to suggest that they help increase muscle temperature. This is said to help reduce the risk of injury by reducing tightness and increasing range of motion.
While it certainly seems somewhat futuristic, the Powerinsoles can be a great option for runners looking for the best insoles to reduce muscle soreness and promote recovery.
#3: Most Comfortable Insoles for Running: CURREX RunPRO Insole
When you’re looking for a running insole that combines stability with flexibility and cushioning, we recommend the CURREX RunPRO Insoles. It sort of sits in the sweet spot: halfway between being rigid for stability and being flexible and cushioned for comfort and shock absorption.
One nice thing about the CURREX RunPRO Insoles is that they come in low, medium, and high arch options so that you can get a somewhat customized fit based on your arch height, which affects your needs for pronation control and stability.
Being able to get a more exact fit in terms of arch height also enhances the comfort when wearing these insoles, and prevents any sort of gap between the sole of your foot and the insole in your shoe.
The CURREX running insoles use Dynamic Arch Technology (DAT), a 3D dynamic arch design, to activate the nerves in your feet to optimize comfort, motion, and stability of your foot throughout your running stride.
Other nice features include a cushioned midlayer with moisture-wicking properties and charcoal to reduce odor, as well as a PORON Heel for shock absorption and energy return.
Overall, they’re quite comfortable and certainly seem to improve upon the standard insole that comes in the running shoe.
#4: Most Supportive Insoles for Running: Powerstep PULSE Maxx Insoles
If you overpronate when you run, you need a supportive insole for running shoes that will help control pronation and prevent your foot from rolling inward. Our pick for the best running insoles for overpronation are the Powerstep PULSE Maxx Insoles.
These insoles can be equated to motion control running shoes in that they help correct and align your foot and ankle from impact to push off.
The Powerstep PULSE Maxx Insoles have a fairly rigid shell for support, a neutral arch, and an angled heel cup to help correct the alignment of your foot and ankle to control pronation. The geometry of the heel cup and arch support are intended to correct the alignment of mild to moderate overpronation.
Underneath this shell is dual-layer PORON cushioning to help absorb shock at impact and reduce stress on the feet, ankles, shins, knees, and hips.
The top cover of the insert has a fabric that helps reduce heat, sweat, and friction.
#5: Best Cushioned Insole for Running: Superfeet Adapt Run Max Insoles
If you’re looking for a more cushioned insole for your running shoes, we recommend the Superfeet Adapt Run Max Insoles.
Superfeet makes a fantastic and extensive line of various foot orthotics, including many for runners, but the Superfeet Adapt Run Max Insoles are one of the best cushioned running shoe insoles available.
These insoles are designed to provide maximum cushioning, with a double layer or Aerolyte foam. There’s a deeper heel cup with an energizing heel cushion that helps disperse shock, vibrations, and impact when you land to prevent fatigue of the muscles in your feet and lower legs and reduce the risk of injuries.
Although the Superfeet Adapt Run Max Insoles definitely are intended to maximize cushioning, they also provide decent stability and support. There’s a higher arch profile, but the Adaptive Comfort Technology allows the insert to help control the motion of your foot no matter what your arch is like.
One nice feature of these inserts is the responsive forefoot zone, a unique blend of materials designed to provide cushioning and rebound to maximize energy transfer when you push off step after step.
Like other Superfeet insoles for runners, these are made with moisture-wicking materials to keep your feet dry and odor free.
#6: Best Budget Insoles for Runners: Dr. Scholl’s Running Insoles
Although insoles for your running shoes that you can buy online or in stores are all certainly far less expensive than going with custom orthotics, OTC insoles for running can still be fairly expensive.
Cheap running shoe inserts typically provide very few benefits over the original insole that came in the running shoe. They tend to be little more than a flimsy piece of flexible foam that provides a subtle degree of cushioning to your foot.
However, there are a few decent inexpensive insoles for running shoes that actually have effective design features.
Our pick for the best budget running shoe insoles are the Dr. Scholl’s Running Insoles, which are designed specifically to help prevent pain from runner’s knee, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis in runners.
These flexible running insoles have Triple Zone Protection, which is said to reduce shock by 40%, and thus reduce fatigue and stress on your feet, ankles, shins, knees, and hips.
They also have moisture-wicking technology to reduce sweat and odors. Given the fact that these are cheap insoles for running shoes, they don’t tend to last as long as some of the more expensive options. Plan to replace these inserts every six months.
Wondering how your running shoes should fit once you have insoles in them?
Learn more in our running shoe fitting guide below.