Insoles Guide

What are insoles?

An insole is the layer of material on the inside bottom of a shoe. It can be part of the shoe when you buy it, which is known as a factory insole. Insoles can also be purchased by themselves and added to the shoes. That type of insole is an after-factory insole. Your personal health needs, current foot conditions, activities you intend to use the shoe for, and current level of shoe quality will help you decide whether or not to add an after-factory insole. You can use the tool below to find out which insole is right for you.

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How do insoles help?

Generally speaking, they provide the cushion and structure of the footbed in a shoe. Because this is the part of the shoe that your foot rests on, the shape of the insole can influence the internal structures of your foot. Imagine laying on your back on a flat surface. The shape your spine takes on will change if you add a large pillow under your lower back. The same is true of your shoes. If your shoe insole in entirely flat, it will not provide support to parts of your foot like your arch. But if the insole has some height added under the arch of the foot, it will help to support that part of the foot. Protalus has gone far to engineer an insole design specifically made to not only provide arch support but to encourage the proper alignment of the talus (ankle) bone. When this bone is well aligned, it helps the rest of your foot and even your other joints, like your knees and hips, to operate in alignment. People who suffer from conditions such as plantar fasciitis and neuropathy often seek ways to relieve the discomfort they feel by providing proper support and alignment to these areas. That is why Protalus stands out as a leader in insole design.

What kinds of insoles do podiatrists recommend?

There are many different types of insoles on the market. Some only provide cushioning, some have built-in arch-support, some are made of magnetic materials, and others have shock-absorption technology. Not all of these types of insoles have been studied extensively but there are studies that demonstrate positive results for specific conditions. One study 1 concluded that, for the treatment of plantar fasciitis, "prefabricated orthotics...were more beneficial than over-the-counter orthotics" and that "...there is no support for the use of magnetic insoles for plantar fasciitis". For diabetic peripheral neuropathy, it has been demonstrated 2 that a foam insole with arch support has positive results. Insoles can be used in different ways such as for running or for distributing the pressure in high heels. Protalus insoles were designed with a team of researchers to correct the alignment of the kinetic chain, redistribute pressure, provide arch support, and add cushioning. While we are not the only solution on the market, our unique, patented design is the only insole that incorporates our heel-cup technology and high-quality materials into a product that responds to what the scientific community has published and what medical professionals say about foot discomfort. Our approach is to target the root of the problem by gently re-aligning the talus, or ankle bone, not just mask the problem with padding. For more information you can read our independent, third party review.

1. Stuber, Kent, and Kevyn Kristmanson. “Conservative therapy for plantar fasciitis: a narrative review of randomized controlled trials.” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association vol. 50,2 (2006): 118-33.
2. Lin, TL., Sheen, HM., Chung, CT. et al. The effect of removing plugs and adding arch support to foam based insoles on plantar pressures in people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy. J Foot Ankle Res 6, 29 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1757-1146-6-29.

Are there shoe inserts for specific activities?

While some shoe insoles are designed for basic daily wear, others are made for specific activities or for certain types of shoes. For example, when running, the runner will want an insole that allows for a full range of movement, doesn't take up too much volume in their running shoe or hinder the shoe in any way, but still corrects any misalignment and provides arch support. In this case the insole should be flexible, thin, but still corrective. For someone wearing high heels all day, they will want an insole designed specifically to fit in a low-volume shoe that rests at an angle and has the technology to redistribute the pressure that builds in the forefoot when wearing heels. A person standing on concrete all day in work boots will look for a thicker, more cushioned insole that can withstand long hours and daily wear. The intended use of the insole will often dictate which model insole you buy so that the design of the insole is optimized for your needs.

What materials make the best insoles?

Shoe insoles can be made from a wide variety of materials such as gel or memory foam. The Protalus M-Series is made of four layers: Top Cloth - ETC anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, moisture wicking, anti-friction lining; Body - VA molded for contour, provides full length cushioning and comfort; Shank - Nylon with contoured shape for stability and support. engineered ridges for grip inside your shoe; Forefoot & Heel - Rogers Poron for enhanced long term cushioning comfort, superior shock absorption, and anti-microbial protection. There is no study that has been able to identify the one best material for shoe insoles because shoe insoles have many uses. Memory foam shoe inserts and gel inserts are popular but perform poorly in trials for plantar fasciitis though they do provide some basic shock absoption and cushioning. Inflexible materials provide a lot of structure but may not be practical for daily wear. Protalus has worked hard to find a combination of materials that allow for flexibility, provide structure, and have cushion for daily wear.

How often should I replace my insoles?

The frequency with which you replace your insoles will depend on the materials the insoles are made of as well as your level of use. No matter the brand or quality of the insoles, over time, constant wear and heat will eventually compress them. Once compressed, you will no longer feel the original comfort and they may step being corrective. Each manufacturer will recommend their own guideline for replacement. We recommend replacing Protalus insoles every 5 to 6 months. When performing higher impact activities, they may need to be replaced more frequently. Generally just make sure to pay attention to how they feel and to look at the blue pad on the bottom of the insole to see of it looks flattened down. You can read more about insole replacement in the article When to Change Your Protalus Insoles.

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We are so confident you will love your insoles that we offer a full 90 day "Love Them or Your Money Back" guarantee. At any time during the first 90 days if you don't love your new insoles contact our Customer Service team for answers and solutions. If we cannot offer you a solution, we will accept the insoles back for a full refund (minus any original shipping charges). Contact us directly for a prepaid return shipping label.

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No matter if you bought only one pair of insoles or several pairs, we ship for free to your door anywhere within the US. Does the size not fit you? No problem: for up to 90 days after your initial purchase we will happily exchange your product for a different size. And as always, we offer free returns: no matter how much you have used our insoles, if you are unhappy with your purchase we will refund your full money (minus any original shipping charges) at any time within 90 days from your purchase.

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