Workboot Insoles 101
Pt. I: Choosing the right insoles
Take care of your feet. Long days of hard work take a toll on them. Insoles can not only make you more comfortable but can also protect your feet from taking too much of a beating and the potential health risks that come along with prolonged strain.
The added support promotes good posture and back health while also correcting disfigurement in your feet that could cause further medical issues.
But not all insoles are made alike. The insoles you want to buy really depend on your foot type and their subsequent needs. So how do you choose the right insoles for you?
First things first: If you’re already aware of an existing foot condition, get the corresponding insoles. You can easily find work boot insoles for flat feet, high arched feet, plantar fasciitis, and most other common foot conditions. Your doctor should be able to recommend what kind of support you need.
Insole Size: Make sure the insoles you purchase actually fit inside your boots. Many insoles can be easily trimmed with a pair of scissors for a perfect fit, but not all. And pay attention to whether or not you can simply place the insoles on top of the existing ones, or if you have to remove the boot’s existing insoles beforehand.
Arch type: Determine your arch type: Normal, flat, or high. You’ll be able to find insoles for each type of arch. Every insole is designated to work with at least one of these arch types. It’s important to identify your arch type because using the wrong ones are likely to hurt.
Footbed: Once you have your arch type, you can choose from 4 common footbed types.
- Rigid Arch Support: Provide support to keep your feet in a healthy position.
- Semi-Rigid Arch Support: Same kind of support as the Rigid ones, but the arch is a bit more flexible to avoid a “stiff” feeling.
- Cushioned Arch Support: Provide some arch support through solely cushioning. But these are more for comfort than they are for support.
- No Arch Support padding: Have absolutely no arch support and are really only meant to line the bottom of the shoe.
After taking your medical needs into consideration, you can then look for additional features that will provide comfort and support specifically for heavy duty jobs.
Heavy duty insoles are ideal for jobs that require you to walk on hard surfaces, be on your feet for extended periods of time, and/or jobs that just require a lot of physical exertion. The materials are what make the biggest difference.
When it comes to material, you’ll most likely see the following:
- Cork: Cork insoles are a bit more firm, making them great for arch support if that’s what you need most. They are also good shock absorbers, although not as good as gel. Because they’re firm, they require a bit more time to break in.
- Gel: Gel insoles are great for work boots because they’re ideal shock absorbers. When you’re working on hard floors like concrete, shock absorption is a big deal. Your feet absorb the brunt of the force with every step you take. So if you can soften the blow, you definitely should.
- Foam: Foam insoles provide ample cushioning. These are ideal for general support and pressure relief. The downside is that, unless otherwise stated, they’re prone to absorbing moisture, like sweat, and end up harboring odors.
The “right” insole depends on your foot type and your needs, so you should really try them out to figure out what’s most comfortable. However, gel insoles are popular for work boots since they provide ample shock absorption, and are durable against heavy duty use. They’re not as absorbent as their foam counterparts, and can be used right away unlike cork.
Pt. II: When to replace your insoles.
And like anything else, insoles get worn out over time. So whether you pick out your own insoles or stick to what the manufacturer gives you, you’ll be switching them out eventually.
So how do you know when it’s time to make the switch? There are a few indicators you can look for.
If the manufacturer’s insole doesn’t work for you. Just because they’re already in there doesn’t mean you’re stuck with them. You know your needs best, so if the included insoles aren’t cutting it, you’ll want to upgrade them right out of the box.
Time will tell. Your insole’s lifespan will vary depending on how heavily you use your boots. A quality pair of workboots will usually come with decent quality insoles. Typically, you’ll be able to get up to 9 months of use out of them.
But for heavy, daily wear you might have to make the switch after just 5-6 months. Be sure to re-evaluate the condition of your insoles around these time markers.
Take a look. When re-evaluating the condition of your insoles, keep an eye out for any discoloration, pilling, or cracking. And definitely be weary of excess compression i.e. flat or uneven insoles.
Listen to your body. You’ll know your insoles aren’t doing their job when you start to notice any pain and discomfort that you didn’t have before. Seems simple enough, but a lot of times boot wearers will chalk it up to the nature of their work or just shrug it off because “that’s just how it be sometimes”.
But you can do better for your own health AND the lifespan of your boots. The discomfort can affect your gait, cause additional knee or back pain, and cause uneven wear and tear on your boots.
Old insoles mean smelly boots. Foot odors are inevitable when it comes to work boots. You’re bound to break a sweat, whether it’s from working hard or just plain heat.
And even if you’re wearing moisture-wicking socks, your insoles are bound to soak up some sweat. They’re probably the most absorbent thing you have in there. When the moisture builds up, so does the bacteria. You could try cleaning them, but you’re better of switching them out for a fresh pair.
Getting new insoles is a pretty small change, but it can make a world of difference. Don’t just bite the bullet and deal with inadequate or worn out insoles when you don’t have to. You owe it to yourself to take care of your future health and your boots.
Learn more about the styles and features of EVER BOOTS products here