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19 February, 2018

Types of running insoles

As we explained in an earlier post “How to choose running insoles“, the use of insoles can help provide balance and stability to the foot, and help reduce and dissipate the negative vibrations the body receives with the impact of each footstep. The fact is, an overload on joints, tissues and muscles may cause pain or sports injuries of varying seriousness.

On the market there is currently a great variety of insoles, whether for running or other uses. We can classify them according to different criteria:

  • Types of insoles according to the material: of gel, EVA, resin, carbon fibre, viscoelastic…
  • Types of insoles according to use. Do we want absorbent insoles for running? To reduce fatigue? To gain stability?
  • Types of insoles according to their form and function. Do we need complementary insoles with the ones we already wear? Do we want to replace the insoles that come with sports footwear? Are we looking for insoles or heel-pads?
  • Types of insoles according to the sizes available: cut-out insoles and non-cut-out insoles.
  • Types of insoles according to the guarantees they offer. Who manufactures and certifies the properties of the running insoles?

 

Types of insoles according to the material How are running insoles made? Properties and benefits of each material

Today there are not only running insoles of different materials but also in each type we can find different densities that provide more or less hardness, flexibility, etc. to the insoles. Some examples:

  • Gel insoles or with gel insert. Its texture provides an immediate sensation of comfort. However, on being an elastic material, it absorbs less negative energy from the vibrations of the impact when running or walking. More than dissipate the energy, it “rebounds” it.
  • EVA insoles (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate), of different hardness (less hardness, less correction, but greater comfort). Spongy, flexible and elastic (they “cushion” the foot but absorb less energy than other materials).
  • Resin insoles. With heat, the shape and thickness of the resin may alter, as well as stick to other materials. Much used in corrective insoles, of different thicknesses, compacts and densities, with a great mechanical resistance.
  • Carbon fibre insoles. High-resistance material, and of minimum thickness and weight. High corrective level.
  • Insoles of viscoelastic materials. Great absorption capacity of energy without giving up flexibility and comfort. They maintain their properties during use. They are thin and light insoles.

The raw material undoubtedly conditions the model of insole, its properties, and therefore its use: it is easy to imagine that a running insole, which must include materials for high absorption of impacts, is not the same as an accommodating insole for the comfort of the elderly.

On the other hand, some of the running insoles combine different types of materials and tissues to increase their benefits and properties. This is the case, for example, of the Ergopro AC+ Noene sports insoles, which is used as a replacement of the original insole and includes:

  • NOENE viscoelastic material, strategically placed to absorb the negative vibrations that are produced on each impact with the ground.
  • Support for the plantar arch which provides stability to the footstep.
  • Flexible and comfortable foam base.
  • Breathable technical fabric.

 

Types of insole according to their use

Absorbing the impact

Making the impact less intense and thus reducing the negative vibrations that resound around the body with ach footstep. This is the main aim of running insoles and for this reason it is important to use those with really certified absorption properties.

Beyond the first sensation of comfort, there are studies that are entrusted precisely to evaluate objectively and with scientific methods, the materials with greater capacity of energy absorption. According to the drop test undertaken with different running insoles, the viscoelastic materials such as NOENE are those that can absorb more energy, specifically up to 92% (*).

(*) Drop test, December 2013.
Study with 21 runners: evaluation of the capacity to absorb the vibrations during the race. Drop test undertaken with 7 different insoles: of EVA, gel insert and NOENE material.

Stabilising the footstep

Another property sought in running insoles is improving stability, so that the runner can advance in each stride with more security and thus minimising the risk of injuries such as twisted ankles. In this sense, there are ergonomic insoles that adapt to the anatomy of the foot and which, with the support in the plantar arch, provide greater stability to the athlete. Such as the Ergopro AC+ Noene sports insoles or the Ergonomic-AC2 insoles.

Reducing fatigue

As well as dissipating the vibrations of the impact during exercise, there are also running insoles specifically created to favour recovery after the effort. These are insoles that have a high-technology fabric that favours the emission of infrared waves that increase the blood flow. This greater blood oxygenation minimises the effects of possible aches and, in general, improves recovery after exercise.

To sum up, running insoles that can benefit our sporting performance.

This is the case of the NOENE Optimum-OFP2 insoles which complement the properties of the NOENE viscoelastic material with the high-technology NEXUS Energy Source fabric, formed of ultra-thin particles of platinum, titanium and aluminium which give it the capacity to emit beneficial infrared waves, stimulating the blood circulation and oxygenation of the body.

Types of insoles according to their form and function

Among the running insoles we can differentiate between:

    • Replacement insoles: they are designed to replace the insoles that come with the sports shoe, such as the Ergopro AC+ Noene sports insoles or the Ergonomic-AC2 insoles.
    • Complementary insoles: they can be added to the original insoles that come with the footwear, or can be added to personalised orthopaedic insoles that the athletes that have to run or alleviate specific podiatric conditions may need. This is the case of the Invisible-SOS1 Noene insoles, incredibly thin (1 mm) and applicable to any type of footwear and sport.
    • Heel pads: unlike the majority of insoles (designed to cover the whole sole of the foot), these insoles are specifically for the heel area, whether for running or doing other types of sport, or for day-to-day use for people have to spend a lot of time standing or walking. An example are the NOENE Specific-TC4 heel pads.

 

Types of insoles according to their adaptation to sports footwear. How do we choose the size of the running insoles?

When buying running insoles, we have two possibilities:

  • Cut-out insoles: there are no insoles for every foot size but they are sold in intervals. Example: the 43-46 model in the European Union or 9-11 in the United Kingdom is the one I should buy if my foot size is 44 (or 9). In this case, the insoles show where you have to cut them to adjust to your foot size.
  • Non-cut-out insoles: an insole is provided for each foot size.

Who manufactures running insoles? Health devices vs consumer products

As we mentioned, today there is a great variety of running insoles. Some are commercialised by clothes and sports footwear brands, while others have a company from the medical sector behind them.

In this sense, it is important to realise that with insoles we are concerned with a product that modifies our way of walking/running, which has effects not only of the health of our feet but also on our body in general and for this reason it is highly recommendable to rely on a manufacturer with experience and prestige in the health sector.

So before buying running insoles we should check that they comply with standards that endorse the information, security and quality that the product announces.

Conclusions

Before the enormous offer of running insoles that we currently have it is more important than ever that we are clear about our priorities and know what properties and benefits we are looking for with our insoles. Do we only want to notice a cushion on our feet, or as well as comfort and stability we are seeking running insoles that absorb the negative vibrations produced in each footstep/stride? Running with security and guarantees today will help us prevent pain and injuries tomorrow.