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Best Gel Insoles For Running in 2021

 

If you’ve got foot pain, the way your shoes fit might be to blame. All shoes are designed differently, so one brand may fit differently to another.

Unless you know what works for your feet and you only buy certain shoes because of that, it’s possible you’ve got a pair of shoes in your closet right now that you love but that hurt your feet!

There’s good news. With the help of insoles, you can keep wearing the shoes you love and have excellent foot support at the same time.

We’ve reviewed the best gel insoles for running. Gel is great at absorbing shock and protecting the feet and joints.

We recommend the Sof Sole AIRR insole. It uses gel cushioning in the forefoot and air chambers in the midfoot and heel, and has an easy-to-use slim design.

Here are the options we suggest choosing from for the most comfortable, shock-absorbing running experience.

Top 3 Best and Favorites

 

Sof Sole AIRR Insole

 

  • Moisture-wicking top-cover
  • Gel section in the forefoot
  • Slim design
Check Price

 

Envelop Gel Insoles

 

  • Contoured layer of gel
  • Honeycomb design
  • Ergonomic design
Check Price

 

KEEN Utility K-30 High Arch Insole

 

  • Dynamic arch support
  • Deep heel cup for stability
  • Odor-control technology
Check Price

Best Overall

1. Sof Sole AIRR Insole

This bubbly-looking outsole uses gel in the forefoot to absorb and disperse shock, reducing the chance of injury to your feet.

It’s ideal for forefoot strikers, but heel strikers won’t miss out. In the heel and midfoot, Skydex air capsules do an excellent job of converting impact into energy return.

The Skydex air unit covers the entire heel and runs up the medial side of the foot, providing shock absorption and support to the arch too.

The rest of the footbed is crafted from polyurethane, and features a Coolmax fabric layer on top which wicks away moisture and keeps your feet cool and dry. It’s also antimicrobial, keeping your feet fresh.

It’s important to take note of the shape of these insoles. Although they boast a new, slimmer design, the forefoot is rather wide and might not fit into narrower shoes. There’s also no way to cut it, due to the shape and size of the gel pad in the forefoot.

It might not be a suitable option for those with narrow feet!

PROS:

  • Encapsulated air chamber in heel
  • Moisture-wicking top-cover
  • Gel section in the forefoot
  • Slim design

CONS:

  • Might not be suitable for those with narrow feet
 

Top Runner-Up

2. Dr. Scholl’s Comfort and Energy Insoles

Dr Scholl’s has a reputation for making good foot health products, and these insoles are made for comfort and light support.

They use gel “wave-cushioning” to provide a subtle massaging effect when you’re wearing them, while absorbing shock easily on every step and reducing foot fatigue and pain.

The gel footbed is layered to create this wave effect. In the heel, a “Ripple Wave” effect offers a good combination of softness and a bit of extra bounce, with a lighter waviness to the midfoot and forefoot for more firmness and less energy return.

There’s extra support for the arch on both the medial and lateral side of the midfoot, and a harder circle of material around the pad in the heel for a bit of extra support.

They’re designed to fit into any kind of shoes, from smart dress shoes to sporting footwear. They’d work well for running, thanks to the cushion and springiness in the heel and the level of comfort they provide your feet.

You can trim them down to size to fit into your shoes. Make sure you follow the instructions and take it slow! If you trim too much, there’s no reversing it.

There have been some reports of this insole bunching up under your toes. It might be a good idea to stick it to your shoe with a bit of double-sided tape to stop this from happening, but that may make it difficult to move them from one shoe to another.

PROS:

  • Responsive wave-cushioning
  • Firm gel cushioning in the heel
  • Comfortable arch support
  • Suitable for a variety of shoes

CONS:

  • May bunch up under your toes
 

Best Value

3. Envelop Gel Insoles

These insoles have an ergonomic design that offers support in all the places you need it most.

They’re filled with gel from toe to heel, and use a unique honeycomb pattern to disperse shock across the foot without jarring joints or harming the muscles.

These insoles have been designed to contour to a neutral arch. Although they say that they’re suitable for arches of all types, they may not be comfortable or effective for supporting feet with low or high arches.

Keep in mind that the insoles will (to a degree) work with the arch support in your shoes, so this may be different for everyone.

There are actually two different gels in this insole. Softer, blue gel makes up the majority of the insert and features the honeycomb shock-absorbing pattern. Under the heel and arch, firmer purple gel provides extra support while still staying comfortable.

They also retain their shape well after being used for an extended period of time. The silicone gel is also super easy to wash and doesn’t hold onto odors.

A textured underside helps this insole to grip the inside of your shoes, preventing them from sliding around as you walk.

Trim carefully to the right size for your shoes. Considering that these insoles are made entirely of shock-absorbing silicone gel, they’re an excellent option for their price.

PROS:

  • Contoured layer of gel
  • Honeycomb design
  • Ergonomic design
  • Extra layer of firm gel in the heel

CONS:

  • These insoles have neutral arch and may not provide enough arch support for some people
 

Best Arch Support

4. Keen Utility K-30 High Arch Insole

Support is important in an insole, especially if you’re placing it in a shoe that doesn’t offer adequate support for you. The Keen Utility K30 High Arch insole is extra supportive for all arch types, reducing muscle fatigue and pain.

Although it’s a high-arch insole, it’s fairly comfortable for everyone. Those with high arches will find the support they need. On the other hand, those with low arches will have enough support under their arch to counter pronation (along with the right pair of stability shoes – the insole alone won’t do it!).

Runners with neutral arches may find it slightly uncomfortable, but it’s also entirely possible that their feet enjoy the extra support.

They feature a layer of high-rebound foam, which helps to absorb shock and protect your feet. Underneath, gel pads in the heel and forefoot provide well-rounded impact protection, reducing fatigue and jarring no matter what kind of foot striker you are.

A deep heel cup helps to anchor the foot firmly and facilitates a better and more effective gait. Another nice feature is the Cleansport NT technology, which helps the insoles to dry quickly and prevent odor-causing bacteria from growing.

These insoles have been designed to fit Keen boots, but they can be easily trimmed to fit into any shoe. They’re fairly firm underfoot, so those who have foot conditions that cause them pain or simply prefer softer cushion may not enjoy these.

PROS:

  • Dynamic arch support
  • Deep heel cup for stability
  • Odor-control technology
  • High-rebound foam cover

CONS:

  • Might be too firm for those with foot conditions or who like softness underfoot
 

Best Cushioning

5. Spenco Total Support Gel

This insole features a full-length layer of thermoplastic rubber gel in varying densities, to provide excellent support while still being super comfortable.

The TPR gel is highly effective at dispersing shock across the foot and preventing jarring, and is also said to offer a 40+% energy return!

In the heel and midfoot, a “stability cradle” offers good arch support and prevents twisting. A 3-pod cushion system in the heel is ideal for heel strikers, absorbing much of the impact of every landing.

There’s good cushion in the forefoot too, though, with a forefoot impact zone that offers cushion as well as extra support for the metatarsals thanks to a unique thick, ribbed texture in the gel.

The low-friction top cloth makes it easy on the feet and reduces the chance of blisters, and it’s also treated with Silipure Antimicrobial technology, reducing any hint of odor.

As an added bonus, these insoles are approved by the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) and recognized as being a product that promotes good foot health.

PROS:

  • 3-pod cushioning system
  • Metatarsal arch support
  • Forefoot impact zone
  • Silipure Antimicrobial technology

CONS:

  • The arch support may be too rigid for some users
 

Top For Women

6. Dr. Pedi Gel Massaging Sport Insole

Technically, ladies can wear any insoles that provide the right support for their feet. These ones are women’s sizes, which means less trimming and more retention of the gel cushion material.

They’re made of medical-grade silicone. This is excellent for impact absorption, but those with a silicone allergy won’t be able to wear them. An EVA layer on the top adds a bit of extra cushion and energy return, and is topped with a comfortable velvet top-coat.

They’re lightweight and flexible, and won’t feel intrusive in your shoes. A non-slip design keeps them steady and still within your shoes, and the light texture on them offers a massaging effect, stimulating circulation and easing muscles.

Simply cut them to size with a pair of scissors.

PROS:

  • Medical-grade silicone
  • Non-slip design
  • Trim for customized fit
  • Velvet top-coat

CONS:

  • Not suitable for those with a silicone allergy
 

Best Gel Heel Cup

7. VALSOLE Plantar Fasciitis Orthotic Shoe Inserts

Heel strikers, this insole would be ideal for you.

A thick gel cushion underneath the heel, paired with a deep, rigid heel cup, keeps the foot properly aligned, as well as reducing the shock up the foot from each foot strike.

The insole is fairly thick, using a polyurethane layer to create arch support and increase shock absorption. Above that, an anti-slip velvety layer makes it soft on your feet and also wicks away moisture, keeping you dry and cool.

There’s also decent support in the forefoot, with a gel pad positioned strategically under the metatarsals for relief from metatarsal pain and better forefoot support.

This insert can take up to 200 pounds of weight before being at risk of losing its shape.

PROS:

  • Reinforced arch support
  • Stabilizing heel cup
  • Gel cushioning in the forefoot and heel
  • Moisture-wicking top layer

CONS:

  • May not be effective for users weighing more than 200 pounds
 

Most Breathable

8. RightFoot Orthotic Gel Insoles

This insole is a low-profile and lightweight one, and its design also makes it extremely breathable. If breathability is something you look for in an insole, then we highly recommend this one.

The foam layer is generous and well-perforated, allowing for excellent air circulation throughout the insole while you’re wearing it. Gel-infused rearfoot and forefoot sections offer great shock absorption too.

The gel is uniquely textured in a triangle shape to offer the best support, comfort, and impact absorption possible.

A light, thin top layer protects your foot and socks, preventing blisters from developing by reducing any chance of chafing.

PROS:

  • Forefoot gel cushioning
  • Unique triangle texture
  • Low-profile design
  • Can be used in a variety of shoes

CONS:

  • Can take up to a week to break-in
 

Best Wide and Squared Toe Boxes

9. Ariat Power Support Wide Square Toe Insole

Looking for an insole that fits your square-toed shoes? These ones would be ideal.

They have a very square toe, fitting perfectly into work boots, dress shoes, or other shoes with a similar shape. Running shoes with a wide toe box would also benefit from these insoles.

They’re well-cushioned, with a thick foam layer using honeycomb patterns in the forefoot and heel for the most effective shock absorption. A generous gel pad in the heel offers even more cushioning, making these comfortable and protective insoles.

The top layer is lightly textured to prevent slipping, and also sports moisture-wicking properties. Mid-level arch support is also provided, ideal for neutral arches but potentially not the most supportive for low or high arches.

PROS:

  • Designed to fit wide, square shoes
  • Anatomic cushioning
  • Rebound foam cushioning
  • Agion technology

CONS:

  • May not be suitable for low or high arches
 

FAQs

Do you have questions about the best gel insoles for running? Here’s some more information that may help.

Why Use Gel Insoles?

Insoles can be made from a variety of different materials. Most use foam to provide cushioning. But gel is an extremely effective shock absorber that helps to disperse impact across the foot and protect the joints.

It doesn’t flatten as easily or quickly as foam does, and it’s pretty comfortable underfoot. Gel also helps just a tad with energy return, being a little more bouncy than foam.

Are Gel Inserts Good for Running?

Gel inserts are an excellent choice for running. They do a great job of reducing impact on landing, which significantly reduces stress on the foot and leg muscles, as well as lessening jarring on the joints.

This impact-absorbing feature can do wonders for reducing injury. The bit of energy return you get with gel can also improve your performance slightly but making the heel-to-toe transition a bit more springy.

Can You Cut Gel Insoles?

Most gel insoles are designed to be cut carefully so they can fit most shoe sizes.

As long as you’re careful and don’t go haywire with the scissors, your insoles should be undamaged when cut to size.

Make sure you follow the instructions, though. Not all gel insoles are suitable for cutting, so double-check that yours are before taking a pair of scissors to them.

The Wired Runner