Have you checked your insoles lately?
Inserts for shoes are an excellent way to get the support you need without a custom orthotic constructed by your podiatrist. But even the best shoe insoles don’t last forever. With normal use, you can expect your insoles to last about 6 months, but this varies depending on factors such as intensity of use (i.e., running vs. everyday activities) and foot structure. For serious runners, you may need new insoles every 3-4 months instead.
Here are some signs to keep an eye out for so you’ll know when it’s the right time to replace your insoles:
If the general appearance of the inserts is significantly different from when you bought them, that could be a sign that it’s time for a new pair. This could include wearing off the logo on the heel or leaving a visible mark from your foot on the insole. Just like an old rusty car, while the surface may be the only part we can see that looks aged, there's usually more going on falling apart beneath the surface. Visible wear on your insole's surface is a sign that the foam padding and structures inside are beginning to lose integrity.
When you notice tearing or cracking on any part of the insole, you put yourself at risk for blisters on your feet, and your insole will no longer be providing support and cushioning in the proper locations. It's easy to look at an old ripped up insole with a severely damaged arch support and figure it's time for a new set, but the insole that has a smaller amount of damage will probably cause more problems because—understandably—it's very tempting to tell ourselves they're still good and keep on wearing them. Small tears and cracks cause blisters, and damage to the insole as a whole is a detriment to it's function. This becomes all too true when we finally get a new set of insoles and immediately feel the difference!
If you’re on your feet a lot, it’s likely that they sweat. This moisture can collect in inserts for shoes and result in undesirable smells. Particularly disagreeable smells can also indicate the presence of bacteria or fungus, which can lead to foot infections. When replacing insoles due to odor, consider choosing new inserts for shoes that are manufactured with antimicrobial fabric. This fabric stops bacteria, mold, mildew, and other harmful little microbes from taking up residence inside the fibers. The antimicrobial fabric is also great at promoting moisture movement to keep your shoes from getting too swampy, which is another way to avoid a breeding ground of bacteria and pals.
Maybe you've avoided overly wearing out the padding of your insole and they still look good. No rips or cracking in the foam, you've taken great care of your insoles. This is a great thing and not to be discouraged from, as the previous issues have been lessened or avoided all together! But, alas, the day will come that you become aware that your insoles are flatter than they used to be. The foam has lost its spring, and the support structures have lost their height. This is probably the most gradual form of damage to insoles, and you never notice it happening until it's much too late—just like those sweatpants I didn't notice getting wider and wider over the pandemic until "why is this drawstring getting so short... oh no!" I digress. In the case of your insoles, it's important to keep tabs on compression. Especially in the case of plantar fasciitis insoles, losing support greatly reduces the benefits you’re receiving from the inserts. For preventing and alleviating pain associated with Morton’s Neuroma, metatarsalgia, and other pains and discomforts, we offer insoles with the built in metatarsal pad which also will compress and lose functionality over time. High-quality cushioning foams and supportive materials are durable, but they do break down over time and cease to be effective at preventing injury and foot pain.
Shoe insoles aren’t necessarily something we pay close attention to daily, and wear and tear occurs very gradually. You may not notice a difference day to day, so it’s important to take note of when you purchased your insoles, and you might even want to set a day on the calendar for every couple of months to do a thorough inspection.
Finally, when you do upgrade to new inserts for your shoes, remember that they may take some getting used to, especially if you’ve waited too long and your old insoles were extremely worn. Replace your old insoles and find the best shoe inserts for your feet now.