No pair of running shoes is complete without the perfect set of running insoles inside them.
But should I wear insoles in my running shoes? My shoes already come with them, you might say.
True, all running shoes have thin, built-in soles. After all, you need some kind of cushion to protect your feet.
But that’s pretty much where the function stops–at the bare minimum.
Standard-issue soles can be flimsy and wear down quickly.
Worse, they’re not tailored to your specific foot, meaning they’re often lacking support.
Insoles can make your running shoes feel like a well-tailored suit.
The right insoles will turn ordinary running shoes into ones that feel specially molded for you.
The 7 Best Running Insoles In 2023
1. Best Value: Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Insoles
2. Best Cushioning: Currex RunPro Insoles
3. Best Insoles for Runners Needing Stability: Superfeet RUN Comfort Sport Insole
4. Best Sustainable Option: SOLE Performance Medium Cork Shoe Insoles with Metatarsal Pads
5. Best Insoles for Runners Who Overpronate: Sidas Activ’ Low Arch Insoles
6. Best Budget Option: Dr. Scholl’s Run Active Comfort Insoles
7. Best Insoles for Runners Overall: Physix Gear Sport Full Length Orthotic Inserts
Why bother with running insoles?
Well, they’re basically a superhero power-up for your shoes.
The best insoles for runners can:
- add cushion
- reduce foot fatigue
- increase running efficiency
- support arches
- correct the fit of your shoes
While running shoes can do wonders for your form, insoles will keep you comfortable and pain-free.
The Benefits of Running Insoles
They last longer.
The cushion in running shoes starts to wear out every 300-500 miles.
Insoles typically outlive two or three pairs of running shoes, as they’re made of higher-quality materials.
They can be slipped into many types of shoes.
Not just for running shoes, they can also fit into your boots or work shoes. Simply pop them out when you’re ready to switch shoes and you’re good to go.
They reduce injury. Built-in soles can be little more than scraps. You’ll want the cushion protecting your footstrikes to be stable and heavy-duty.
Related Article: Best Insoles For Runners In 2022
A study on the effect of cushioned insoles found that they significantly reduced the force of impact while running.
Peak impact lowered by 6.8%, and tibial acceleration went down by an entire 15.8%.
Another study found that people with flat feet benefited from the shock absorption and evenly distributed stress.
A lack of support or enough cushion can lead to truly painful injuries such as plantar fasciitis.
If you haven’t heard of it before, plantar fasciitis is a condition where the thick band of tissue along the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed.
This tissue connects your heel bone to your toes. It’s necessary for standing and walking comfortably.
There are a whole host of other running injuries to watch out for when on the track or trail. Make sure you’re protected!
They can help you through an existing injury.
There are even custom ones you can have made for you.
Like plantar fasciitis mentioned above or knee/lower back pain like sciatica, there’s an insole for them all.
You don’t have to completely stop your daily activities when an injury gets you down. There’s help.
- Related: 6 Best Men’s Running Tights
What to Look For in the Best Insoles for Runners
When considering Should I wear insoles in my running shoes?, remember that insoles come with a wide range of options for any type of feet.
You’ll see ones on the market for flat feet, overpronation, injuries, and a variety of arches.
So knowing which ones are right for you can be daunting.
The 4 main things you want to consider are:
Pay attention to the padding. Will it be enough when you pass mile 5?
Insoles may feel comfortable now, but you’ll want them to stay that way throughout your run.
The right shape can prevent some nasty injuries later by keeping your heel in place. Look for heel cups and a good ergonomic shape.
Everyone has a certain arch to their foot.
Some have completely flat arches, some medium or neutral, and some have high arches.
These differences mean you have certain things to watch out for to lower your risk of injury.
Selecting an insole with good support will ensure your shoes are tailored to you.
Like running shoes, insoles may need a bit of an adjustment period to fully settle.
Still, they should be comfortable from the very first use.
No matter which insoles you pick, make sure they’re the right size and shape above all else.
When shopping for new shoes, bring your soles along to make sure they slot well inside the new ones.
You can always trim them down, but if the shoes aim for arch support on their own, you could find they fit a bit awkwardly.
Be careful not to buy ones thinking they’ll be better once they’re “broken in.”
If they don’t feel good now, they won’t be right for you later either.
The Many Materials of Insoles
For cushion, insoles are made of foam compounds or gel.
Gel can be great for reducing impact and lessening the stress on your feet and leg muscles.
However, they are sometimes less ideal for running in terms of stability.
For support, you may also find cork, carbon fiber, or plastic in them.
Your feet take a beating, so runners in particular will need insoles made from sturdier materials.
Many come with an anti-odor treatment as an extra perk.
Should I get a custom insole made?
The short answer: it depends.
Custom orthotics cost between $300-600. These are not always covered by insurance.
If you’re not ready to make that investment, there are plenty of ready-made options out there.
A good strategy is to buy one or two insoles, find out if they’re really the perfect match for you, then consider custom insoles down the road.
Our Top Picks for the Best Insoles For Runners
#1. Best Value: Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Insoles
Material: Lightweight Polysorb Foam, Weight: 4.94 Ounces
|EVA forefoot cushioning for energy return||Uncomfortable for people with low arches|
|Heel plug for additional cushioning||Not the most durable|
|Good arch support|
These insoles justify their long name by specializing in shock absorption.
This is just what you want when cross-training as you prepare for your next marathon. Cross-training for runners is important for conditioning your muscles for race day.
Fortunately, these affordable insoles are up to the task.
What makes them so great for cross-training is their flexibility.
Materials include lightweight polysorbate polyurethane foam, combined with 4-way stretch fabric and nylon.
When you move, they’ll move with you.
As an added bonus, they’re antimicrobial, so fewer odors will linger after your workout.
#2. Best Cushioning: Currex RunPro Insoles
Material: Composite, Weight: 4.97 Ounces
|Great rebound for forward propulsion||Can be squeaky!|
|Very thin – won’t add height to your shoe|
You’ll notice right away that these insoles have multiple parts.
The colors on these insoles perform different functions.
The blue minimizes the shock from footstrikes while the grey supports your arch.
Lastly, the orange redistributes the strain on the foot and lowers overall stress on it.
The curved design around the heel keeps your feet in place, with enough stability to save you from injury.
Sturdier than the Spenco insoles, the Currex brand makes support their main focus.
These are the best insoles for runners who also happen to be on their feet all day, when maximum cushioning is the way to go.
While the ones featured are for medium/neutral arches, these are also available in high and low profiles.
#3. Best Insoles for Runners Needing Stability: Superfeet RUN Comfort Sport Insole
Material: Carbon Fiber and Aerospring Dual Comfort Foam, Weight: 4.59 Ounces
|Two layers of foam for extra cushioning||None!|
|Designed to be customized|
As the name suggests, the Superfeet RUN insoles are designed specifically for running.
We can’t have you sliding all over when training for a marathon!
They get that stability from their own technology called an EVOLyte stabilizer cap.
This enables flexible support and features a deep heel cup to cradle your foot.
Finally, they include a heel impact pod made of gel to disperse impact.
Superfeet is great for making a variety of running insoles for different arch types.
Plus, they come with moisture wicking and odor control.
#4. Best Sustainable Option: SOLE Performance Medium Cork Shoe Insoles with Metatarsal Pads
Material: Recycled Cork, Weight: 4.66 Ounces
|Arch support with natural flex||Cork can be squeaky|
|1.6mm cushioning for shock absorption|
|Mold to your feet|
Sole makes fantastic insoles for all sorts of activities and these footbeds – recommended by podiatrists as an alternative to prescription orthotics – have just the right amount of cushioning for running!
Exceptionally eco-friendly, they are made from recycled wine corks, packaged in plastic-free packaging, and feature a special odor-control coating made with recycled silver salts.
They are also ideal if you want a truly custom fit!
That’s because they are heat and wear moldable, which means you can use your oven – or simply wear them for a few days – to mold them to the unique shape of your foot.
Clinically proven to reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis and to help relieve other aches and pains associated with running, they support the natural spread of the metatarsals and help boost circulation.
#5. Best Insoles for Runners Who Overpronate: Sidas Activ’ Low Arch Insoles
Material: Lightweight Foam/Gel Pad, Weight: 6.35 Ounces
|Encourage a dynamic gait cycle||None|
|Easy to cut to the correct width|
One of the consequences of low arches is overpronation.
These insoles are created to be the ideal anatomical shape for people with low arches, providing the gentle support that’s needed to correct the problem.
They also feature a gel pad at the heel for extra cushioning and an antibacterial bamboo topcover to help keep your feet fresh and healthy.
#6. Best Budget Option: Dr. Scholl’s Run Active Comfort Insoles
Material: Rubber, Weight: 7.84 Ounces
|Reinforced arch support||Heavy compared to other insoles|
|Reduce wear and tear on legs and feet|
You don’t have to spend a fortune to find the best insoles for runners and this pair from Dr Scholl is a good case in point!
Designed specifically for runners to prevent and relieve the pain from common sports injuries, they offer great shock absorption, with a deep heel cup to protect you from impact and padding at the ball of the foot.
Not only does this improve the cushioning but it also distributes pressure evenly through push-off.
Also available for women, these insoles use Polygiene StayFresh technology to keep your running shoes smelling as fresh as possible and are easy to trim to size with a sharp pair of scissors.
#7. Best Insoles for Runners Overall: Physix Gear Sport Full Length Orthotic Inserts
Material: Layered High-Performance EVA Foam and PU material, Weight: 5.93 Ounces
|Low profile||Too wide for some shoes|
|Deep heel cradle for stability|
|Anti-odor, moisture-wicking fabric|
Made with two types of foam, they deliver a whole lot of function while being light enough to not get in your way.
Physix insoles aren’t just for running: these powerhouses support you through rock climbing, ball sports, manual work, and more.
They are designed with long-term comfort in mind. You won’t have to worry about your feet getting tired as you trek up the side of a mountain!
Can I Wash My Running Insoles?
Most insoles are just fine to wash. We recommend hand washing them in warm water with a small amount of gentle laundry detergent. Rinse with cold water, then let air dry.
Do not wash these in a machine. A dryer is also a no go. The rough tumbling combined with the high temperatures will be an easy way to warp them out of place.
This exposes you to injury down the line and can knock the arch support out of alignment. Don’t do it!
Choosing the best insoles for runners is the easiest way to make sure you’re efficient and supported when you step out to run. Be sure to check out our marathon training plans to get you in your best shape.