Back in 2010 a prominent shoe exec told me insoles don’t matter. After 10 years of footwear testing, we have data to show that they were very wrong for almost every shoe style and pricepoint. Here’s the science behind insoles and how to pick the best one for your shoes: First, let’s review Heeluxe’s keys to comfort: Fit, Contour, Movement, Cushion. Insoles can change 2 of these: Contour through features like heel cups and arch supports and Cushion. So in theory insoles are important for comfort. But what does our data show?
We’ve measured over 50% improvements in underfoot pressure—a key measurement of cushioning and comfort—when comparing a low quality sheet stock EVA insole with a premium foam contoured insole. Considering that your customers can feel as little as 5% improvements in pressure, this is a massive change! Small changes of insole hardness or arch height can improve underfoot pressure and customer comfort by 20%. Heeluxe’s data shows that using better materials and shapes are important when the insole is >3mm thick. We’ve also observed this in all styles of shoes, from high heels to hiking boots.
Picking a quality foam and properly contoured insole has benefits beyond comfort. Heeluxe’s testing shows that these features also improve the durability of a shoe. One example is in a work boot, where quality insoles can improve the number of months that your customer can wear the shoes without increased pain or fatigue. High Heels also benefit from quality insoles/liners to improve how long the wearer can stand without taking off their shoes (we can this the “trade show effect”).
All premium insole foams and contours are NOT equal! Honestly, we’ve tested very expensive insoles that are absolute garbage—and inexpensive insoles that are amazing. Price does not always increase performance. What is important is analyzing how the insole works in your shoes during the activity your customer likes to do in them.
Insoles do matter and are an easy way to improve your customer’s experience. When you’re ready to up your insoles contact [email protected] to take the guesswork out of picking the best foam and shape.