Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?

Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?

One of the major questions people ask me is:

Do I need custom insoles or custom orthotics for running?

If you are running well and injury-free, the answer is probably not.

The beauty of running is that there are so many different combinations of shoes and custom orthotics for running. The thing is, you can’t put every custom orthotic or insole into running shoe. Plus, there is a huge difference between a Dr. Sholes insert and a doctor made custom orthotic. Heck, there is a big difference between custom orthotics for running and over the counter insoles for running. The major being the price.Do you REALLY Need Insoles or Custom Orthotics for Running?

Here are a few basics about custom orthotics/insoles for running:

  • Dr. Scholl’s Inserts aren’t providing you with any additional support while running. You’re wasting your money.
  • Custom Orthotics or Custom Insoles are not a substitution for bad shoes. If you put a fancy custom orthotic for running into a bad shoe, you’ll still have the same issues.
  • Custom orthotics or custom insoles are not a substitution to fix an underlying body weakness. If something is weak and causing muscle imbalances, a custom orthotic or custom insole is not going to “fix” that.
  • Make sure your custom insole (whether Superfeet, Currex, or Powerstep) works well for the shoe you’re already using. Putting additional stability into a stable shoe isn’t always the right combination.  Everyone is different and for some people, that’s the right combination and for others, it is not.  The only way to determine this is to go to your sports doctor or run specialty store. Doctors know a lot about injuries, but run specialty stores know a lot more about how custom orthotics fit into shoes.
  • Typically (made by the doctor), Custom Orthotics for running doesn’t feel comfortable at first. Often times you need to get refitted by your local running store for shoes. Don’t surprised if you go up a size or wider.

Now that we got the basics about custom orthotics for running, we can get into more detail:

What is the difference between a Custom Orthotic and a Custom Insole?

A Custom Made Orthotic is made by a doctor and can range in price from $400-$800. Sometimes insurance covers it, but often not. It’s molded to your foot and made for you. It’s one of a kind.  You should go to the proper sports medicine doctor, sports scientist or physical therapist. Don’t go somewhere because a blogger told you too. Some running stores make “custom insoles,”  Running store “custom insoles” aren’t that custom.

An over the counter insole like Superfeet, Currex, or Biosoft works for a range of feet. They range in price from $40-60. Most local running stores carry these types of insoles, but you’ll need to go to your doctor for a custom orthotic for running. If you are getting a custom orthotic for running, make sure your doctor makes it the full length of the shoe. Half custom orthotics aren’t doing anyone any favors.

If you are pain-free and not having issues, you don’t need any type of custom orthotic or insole. There I said it.

But if you’re not, you might want to look into insoles. Custom insoles for running are especially helpful for mild issues or injuries such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis. Insoles should be the second plan of action. Fixing whatever weakness is causing your problem should be the first.

What are the Best Custom Insoles for running?

Of course, one of the most common questions is: “What is the best running shoe.” The second might be, “what is the best insole for running.” The best insole for running depends on you and what sort of problems you are having. There is no best and if someone tells you otherwise, they are wrong. Of course, a doctor made custom orthotic is going to be one of the best (but also most expensive). Most people don’t need that.  If you feel as though you’re having a lot of foot issues, always seek medical professionals advice.

Here are a Few Premium Insoles for Running to Look into:

Each insole provides actual support and cushioning.  Unlike a soft insole like Dr. Schols, premium insoles are more rigid and aren’t flexible. They don’t break down quickly.

  • Superfeet Insoles: Best for those experiencing pain or a running injury such as plantar fasciitis. They take the load and bodyweight off the arches, especially if you have flatter feet. Superfeet Insoles are the closest to custom orthotics without the price tag, but do take time to work into. Your pain should continuously improve, but you won’t feel “the best ever” when you start wearing then.  The Superfeet Green Insoles are the most common and can be used for most foot conditions.
  • Powerstep Insoles: Sometimes Powerstep gets named: “Powerstep Custom Orthotic” but Powerstep aren’t custom Orthotics. In fact, Powerstep Insoles are similar to Superfeet Insoles and made to correct injuries. Most running stores carry either Powerstep Insoles or Superfeet Insoles and in a bind, you can probably use either.  They are great if you are having foot pain or heel pain and can help transfer the bodyweight off the foot and arch.
  • Currex: Currex insoles are made in low arches, medium arches, and high arches. The over the counter insoles are much softer and many people prefer the comfort.
  • Biosoft: Biosoft is a much softer insert and is primarily used for extra cushion. They sit nicely into regular and casual shoes.

How to Find the Right Insole For you:

Go to your sports doctor or local running store. The internet can’t look at your feet. 

You Want More Arch Support or to “Correct Something”?

If you have flatter feet or fallen arches and need a custom insole, generally, Superfeet is one of the better options. The hard plate underneath the insert works to prop your feet up. Superfeet can help to prop up arches if you’re having an issue like plantar fasciitis.

Here are a Few Reasons a More Corrective Insole (Like Superfeet or Powerstep) Might Help:

Most people don’t realize their feet are usually doing different things or are different shapes and sizes. You have two different feet (maybe one is flatter or pronating more) than the other. Superfeet Insoles or Powerstep Insoles can help correct one foot but not overcorrect the other. Correcting a foot imbalance will improve your body’s alignment.

This can help prevent additional injuries from the kinetic chain. Insoles should be used as part of the process of changing body mechanics but shouldn’t be the only thing. If you are repeatedly getting stress fractures, an insole will not prevent them. You must figure out the “why” of the stress fracture. Is it form? Gait?

You Want More Cushion:

If you are looking for an insole with more cushion, Biosoft or Currex are great options. Plus, they are both great options to go into your everyday shoes like work boots or casual shoes. Let’s face it, most of us don’t wear running shoes all day long, so having extra cushion in your everyday shoes can only help. If you are just looking for a little extra something for your everyday shoe, Biosoft is one of the better options.

Here are a Few Reasons a More Cushioned Insole (like Currex) Might Help:
  • You’re building mileage
  • You’re having knee pain (in both knees) and your shoes are newer.

So which is Better a Custom Orthotic for Running or Custom Insert for Running? Or None?

Not what anyone wants to hear, but it all depends on you and your issues. So, in summary, both custom insoles and custom orthotics both serve the same purpose; custom orthotics are much more expensive.

Typically if you need a high end, custom orthotic for running, you’ve already been through physical therapy and to a sports medicine doctor.

If you are having issues, stop by your local running store and see if a Superfeet Insole or Powerstep Insole can help. If you’ve tried almost everything else, it might be time to see a sports medicine doctor to work on problems and get a custom orthotic.

Finally, have you subscribed to the LOLZletter? It’s a free newsletter that comes out each Monday. In the newsletter, I share running industry trends and things relevant to the sport. 

Have you tried custom orthotics or custom inserts? Hae you tried Biosoft, Superfeet, or Currex? 



  1. Great post Hollie! I use superfeet, got fitted at fleet feet for both my shoes and the superfeet I use. It made a huge difference with my plantar fasciitis pain. I find just wearing my sneakers when I’m even walking around my feet feel so much better than when I wear boots or flips. Disclaimer tho I have the flattest feet ever and an extra bone in one lolllll I think many people will find this post helpful!!

    1. OMG I feel like this is a blast from the blogging past. #butreally.

      I’m glad Superfeet work for you and I miss you my friend.

  2. Trying to be a good patient and recover from my bilateral stress fractures. ☹️ I think I’ll ask my doc about custom orthotics as we investigate the root cause of this injury!

    1. Ugh, I hope you heal quickly. Do you think it was from overtraining? (I’ve been there and it stinks). Where are they at?

  3. Thank you for this post. I think I’ll be referring to it often. I have used most of the suggested insoles, Powerstep the most recent one; we’ll see how that goes. I have some nagging heel/ankle issues on both feet, especially the right foot, with the help of a podiatrist and, I hope, also a PT very soon.

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