Q: What do I do with Shoe Inserts?

Hi Lauren,

I have always been confused with buying shoe inserts. If I buy them, do I take out my inserts that came with the shoes and replace them or do these inserts go on top of the original ones.  Also, if today’s shoes are designed for specific foot/running types such as over-pronated, why would you need to buy the extra inserts. wouldn’t this just overcompensate the effects or would it actually be better?

Thanks for your help!




Hi SeeJackRun,

Your question kinda reminds me of the old panty-hose/underwear question.  What goes on top of what?  Do you need both?  Actually, that one is a little more straightforward now that I really think about it.

I wear a neutral running shoe, and I occasionally buy special inserts.   I always take out the one that comes with the shoe and put the new ones directly on the flat footbed.

If your special inserts address pronation or encourage your foot to strike at an angle of any sort, I generally wouldn’t advise you use those in a shoe that is already designed for pronation.  As you said, it would overcompensate the effects and mess you up more.

Now if a doctor advises it, or if you are too cheap to get checked out but you notice your foot pronates so much with every step that you are cleaning the streets with the fabric of your shoe, then you need both!  I tell most people that unless you have a special foot problem or you plan to do an extreme amount of running, a reputable shoe company’s stock model for your foot type should do the trick.

Shoe InsertBuying from a local specialty running store is going to give you your best fit (real runners often work there).  Get a special insole only for increased comfort, arch support, or to prevent your foot from sliding around.  My favorite insoles are spencos or superfeet with just a little arch in them.

Moving forward in your running, you can do exercises with your feet, ankles, and core that improve your foot strike and work toward correcting pronation, moving you toward a more ideal shoe/insole combo: a neutral shoe with slightly corrective over the counter insoles (also saves you a lot of money!)  I can tell you as an elite athlete that you can change the way your feet work.  I’ve done it, and so have many people I know.  It is not unrealistic for most people to improve the health and functionality of their feet.  It takes a little time and effort, but in the end, having a healthier foundation makes all your body movements more efficient all the way up the chain.

All the best!