Performance Insoles for Cycling

Powerstep PULSE Performance Insoles are the perfect match for most cycling footwear. Although the label might suggest these insoles are specially made for running shoes, they also provide the same support and comfort sought out by cyclists. The advanced ShockAbsorb™ Premium Foam cushioning is designed to absorb shock and give an energetic rebound, which on a pedal translates to all of the road vibration or gravel bumps and taps being absorbed as the pedal impacts your shoe, saving your feet and ankles from a lot of discomfort and preventing possible joint pain as the knees and hips and even the lower back are usually affected by the constant impacts from trails. Considering your type of cycling shoe, be it a slim cleat style with clips or a more skater style sneaker with a stiffer sole for pedaling, these orthotic style insoles are a no-brainer for cycling. Forget the distracting bumps on your route, and enjoy a ride with smoother feeling pedals and gear shifts.


Your type of cycling shoes usually depends heavily on what type of pedals your bike has. Clips, clipless, or no clips? But wait, aren't "clipless" and "no clips" the same? Nope. "Clips" refers to the older style toe cages that you'd clip your shoe's toe into. "Clipless pedals" came after, and use small clamps in place of large pedals that attach to implants in your shoe's underside, and they're called "clipless" because they lack the large toe cage and there's no "clips" per se, although your shoe is effectively "clipped" onto the pedal. The type of pedals we're all probably more familiar with that have no binding connection to your shoe, are called "flat pedals", where all grip is provided by spiky shapes or metal pins protruding from the pedal's surface, ready to grip into your shoe's undersole with their sharp spiky ends. Or your shin. It happens.


The shoes for toe clips are usually similar to the clipless shoes, since they're small in the toebox and slip into the cage without a battle. No clamping mechanism is needed in the actual shoe, since the mechanism is contained in the cage attached to the pedal. A smaller toebox usually means a slimmer profile shoe overall. The clipless pedal also requires a more cleat-like cycling shoe, with a rigid sole and a locking mechanism built in that attaches to the small clamping pedal. Flat pedal users will use shoes that range from just about any shoe that's comfortable, to more intentional options with flat undersides (no tread) such as skateboarding shoes or shoes that were designed specifically for use with flat pedals - visually similar to skatebaording shoes but with a firm rigid sole to help prevent the shoe from deforming around the pedal shape, causing foot pain and discomfort.


There are two ways to improve the shoes chosen for any of these three types of pedals, making them better for comfort, function, and pain relief and pain prevention.  The first way is by adding an appropriate shoe insole. For the clips (toe box cage), your shoe is going to have a stiff toe box, which is going to be stressing your foot's arch with each stride of the pedal. This can be counteracted by adding a PowerStep PULSE Performance Insole. The built in rigid arch support insert will take the force of each down-pedal and spread the force along the entire foot, down to the ankle. Allowing your toes, arch, and heel to act as one combined push, will improve performance and decrease pain in the foot, engaging the pedals all the way up through the knees and lower back. Pedals with clips and clipless pedals both use more cleat-like shoes, very slim and tight-fitting. Because of this, the PowerStep Pulse Thin and Pulse Thin 3/4 are very good options, as they take up as little room as possible while still performing their function as an orthotic device with added cushioning where possible. The flat pedal users, choosing shoes that range from skateboard-style shoes or just any comfortable shoe, will benefit from any of the PowerStep Pulse Insoles, since fit isn't going to be as much of a barrier. The PowerStep Pulse Performance is going to be the best choice for most; another option is the Pulse Plus, featuring an added metatarsal pad to alleviate the ball-of-foot area, there is also the Pulse Maxx with an added heel wedge and beefier arch support insert for an overall greater support of foot function, and PowerStep also has the Pulse Air, featuring a perforated top layer that promotes better air flow. As with all shoe insoles, it is important to remove the factory insole that came in your shoes—with cycling shoes, they may sometimes be glued in or just not removable—that is fine, but with non-removable insoles we highly recommend the Powerstep Pulse Thin and Thin 3/4 Insoles, which take up much less room inside the shoe.


The second way to improve the shoes to reduce foot pain due to cycling is to begin by choosing the right shoes that fit correctly. Be sure your feet fit snugly into the shoes, but not too tight to avoid cutting off blood supply to your feet which will cause cramps, pain, and possibly damage to the nerves going through the ball of foot area. Also make sure they're not too loose, which would obviously cause blisters and hinder foot function. Another factor which is often overlooked is shoe weight. Get them as light as possible—your shoes are going to become an integral part of the system that powers your bicycle. Having a heavy shoe on the end of the pedal will absolutely impair your ability to get up to speed and maintain it, and over longer distances it becomes immediately noticeable. Lighter shoe, less resistance. Again considering the pedals; if you're bike has flat pedals, make sure that the bottom of your shoe's sole is wide enough to comfortably grip the width of the pedal. It's better for the shoe to be (slightly) narrower than the pedal, than for the shoe to be wider than the pedal. Having only the inner half or third of your foot sitting on the pedal is a great way to sprain your ankle landing from a jump or hitting an unexpected bump. Make sure the entire width of your shoe can engage with the flat top of the pedal. Your shoe-to-pedal relationship is literally the driving force behind how good or bad your cycling experience will be. There are many other factors as well, but you can guarantee that if you don't have great feet and pedals, nothing else will matter.


Shoe insoles are great to add to your cycling shoes regardless of the type of cycling you're doing. Whether you're on the road, hitting the crushed limestone trails, or cycling around town on the sidewalks, on a road bike, hybrid bike, gravel bike, mountain bike or e-bike; everything's better with PowerStep Pulse Performance Insoles. The cushioning foam helps soften the impact of your foot from the bike's pedals, and can help you absorb shock while standing up. The rigid arch support and heel cup insert helps to engage your entire foot onto and through the pedal, helping to prevent your shoe from deforming around the pedal (with weight on the ball of foot or arch, the toes curl down and the heel hangs down). People who use plantar fasciitis inserts in their everyday shoes will have an added focus on proper foot placement on the pedal to avoid exacerbating their pain, but we can also benefit from the pain relief and prevention of PowerStep's plantar fasciitis insoles in our biking shoes. If you have flat feet or high arches and usually deal with foot strain regardless of the type of activity, the PowerStep insoles for flat feet and insoles for high arches will absolutely improve your cycling enjoyment.


A lot of the time, just getting out on your bike is enough of an escape that it doesn't matter if it's a mediocre experience or a great one. But the best way to boost enjoyment, relieving and preventing pain—regardless of the type of cycling—start with your feet. Choose the appropriate shoes, and get the most out of them with a performance orthotic style shoe insole from PowerStep!