Most footwear manufacturers don’t put much of an insole or footbed in shoes for a variety for reasons, including cost, widely differing individual preferences, and the fact that so many people use personal orthotics.
As a result, after-market insoles have become quite a business with a plethora of choices for every foot type and preference in support or cushioning. Now, too, come women-specific footbeds from Spenco.
These are said to take into account a woman’s differences in body build, bone structure and gait, which are distinctly different from a man’s. That said, we didn’t stop to analyze if these were that different but simply asked a number of women runners and exercisers of various levels – including ones who normally wore orthotics or not -- to try them and tell us what they thought.
Basically, Spenco says these stabilize and support the heel better, align the knee and hip angle more solidly, and offer extra metatarsal cushioning. There is an extra gel insert in the heel and a firmer insert on the ball of the foot. Plus, they are made of a lightweight, very breathable material.
The first point of difference was that testers who already were used to personal, quite supportive orthotics tended to think these weren’t necessarily firm or supportive enough for exercising or even all-day walking, while a couple who had not worn orthotics thought they seemed pretty firm. All a matter of perspective it seems.
One tester who had not worn personal orthotics or other after-market footbeds told us, “They were comfortable from the beginning, but just felt a little firmer than what the shoe had in it before. They never hurt or anything, and they fit just as they came.”
Would she buy them? She wasn’t sure if they really made a difference although if somebody could show her they’d help her running and comfort, she said she’d not hesitate. Another tester, a more serious runner, had her own orthotics due to various injuries over the years. She decided they weren’t firm enough for her past issues but ended up putting them in some everyday shoes and loved the extra comfort and support: “The bottoms of my feet felt a little tender, so I popped the Spencos in and liked the additional cushioning and support.”
Yet another tester, who was used to wearing her own orthotics, wore the Spencos all day walking around a city and trade show and found her feet became quite tired. She too found the Spencos delightful around the house and for casual around-town wear and errands – just not necessarily for hours on end especially, as she said, if somebody has their own orthotics. However, she added, for somebody who has not worn their own orthotics, these may actually help their feet feel less tired.
No matter what a tester’s past experience was, they all noted the fabric seemed comfortable and the footbeds didn’t end up wet or stinky after wear.
The insoles come in five sizes to fit sizes 3 to 12 (each insole can be trimmed a bit as needed to fit shoes but may not due to arch support and some bulk fit in most dress shoes). In addition, they are part of the Spenco Pink Ribbon program where Spenco will donate a portion of the proceeds from each sale to support Breast Cancer initiatives.
SNEWS® Rating: 4.0 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)
Suggested Retail: $29.95