Meaghan: I’ve been battling some PTT (Posterior Tibial Tendinitis) due to my super low arches. A doctor suggested I spend $500 on a pair of custom orthotics. I decided to try out some less pricey options before jumping into that expensive endeavor. I’m an extremely skeptical runner and didn’t think an insert could cure or even assist in the recovery process. However, the insoles, combined with massaging, stretching and post workout ice baths have significantly reduced the issue. Here’s a quick look at the three inserts I’ve been testing out the past few months.
The Cadence insole is the closest thing you can get to a comfortable shoe insert. It’s designed with soft, responsive foam and a semi-rigid nylon orthotic. What’s nice about the semi-rigid insoles is you get the support you need under the arch, but the flexibility you want through the forefoot. The Cadence insoles are also structured with cushy heel cup that helps with shock absorption. As a prominent heel striker, this was a nice feature for me. The only real downside to the Cadence is weight. The additional 2oz becomes noticeable on longer runs. I’ve found myself using these insoles primarily for shorter workouts and throughout the work day. They’re by far the best option for walking around and every day use.
Side note: The Owner and Founder, John Hinds, is a physical therapist and super nice guy. He was kind enough to send me a sample pair and also provide some insight and help with my PTT.
Thomas convinced me to try the Dean Karnazas inserts from SOLE. He used them to cure some Plantar Fasciitis a couple years ago, so I decided to give them a try. These are over-the-counter-custom insoles. You’re able to heat them up in the oven and fit them to your specific foot shape. The orthopedic base layer is moldable, but keeps the supportive properties. It’s pretty cool technology and it only takes a few minutes to get the perfect fit. These are not as flexible as the Cadence, but there is some bend in the forefoot. These insoles definitely take some time to work-in. Despite being told by countless professionals, I learned the hard way that you need to slowly work to long distances. Hours of pounding on stiff insoles can be brutal on unaccustomed feet.
Weight: 1.4 oz
The Sof Sole FIT came recommended by Holabird Sports. They’re the stiffest, but also the lightest of the inserts I tested. The Fit collection comes with three options based on foot shape and arch. I opted for the Low Arches. These inserts offer a lot of arch support without a thick footbed, which is a really great combination for me. I took these out for a 20 miler in my Hokas; I wanted to partner them with something extra soft. They felt great and the light build allowed for some speedier miles. These inserts are the least expensive in the batch, but it shows. The material isn’t very flexible and there’s a prominent crease visible where the foot bends. I would assume the lifespan of these insoles is not quite as long as the others.
Insoles are tough to review. Much like shoes, everyone is going to feel differently about them. What I’ve found works for me is using the Cadence for every day walking around and shorter workouts. I rotate between Sof Sole Fit and SOLE DK Response for the long runs. If you’re familiar with inserts, but haven’t tried Cadence, definitely give them a go. They’re a breath of fresh air compared to your standard stiff, supportive shoe inserts.