First off, what are they? They are insoles for your running shoes that actually replace the insoles that came with the shoe. They are a nice, bright orange color with a black area in the heel. The actual insole itself is made of a soft, spongy material just like most other shoe insoles. The black area on the heel is more of a plastic. The interesting thing is that this black section has a whole bunch of little nubs that stick up. The point of this and the insoles in general is to help you improve your running form. Heel striking is overly prevalent in runners these days and has resulted in many runners having poor form and injuries. Recent studies have shown that really it doesn’t matter which part of your foot hits the ground; it’s more important that your foot is coming in contact with the ground directly under your center of gravity. While that may be true, the ability to heel strike with super padded running shoes has encouraged people to over stride and are instead landing in front of their center of gravity. I think that it is easier to land properly when you are landing more on your forefoot. And the fine folks at ShoeCue agree. The textured heel they designed for these insoless is designed to give you biofeedback when you’re running so that you can, over time, gradually eliminate your heel strike and develop a solid forefoot strike.
When you order the insoles they come in a universal size set and, at the time of writing, come with an attractive, free drawstring bag. You actually need to cut the excess off the front of the insole before you can use them in your shoe. There are pre-marked lines that indicate where you need to cut depending on your shoe size. They did a good job with their design because I cut mine as suggested and they fit perfectly in my shoes. Once they are cut down you simply remove your old insole and put these bad boys in their place.
You will definitely feel the difference right away. The spongy forefoot actually feels really good, and I actually think I like it better than the insole that came with the shoe. The heel of the insole is immediately noticeable. It’s a hard sensation to describe, but it almost feels kind of like when you have sand inside your shoe; it’s not uncomfortable and it doesn’t hurt, but you can’t help but notice it’s there. Walking around with them feels really strange at first. We all heel strike when we walk and the insole is definitely noticeable when you’re walking. Again, it’s not painful at all, just a constant sensation. Interestingly, that pretty much all goes away when you’re running, if your form is good.
When I first ran with these insole it revealed a few things to me. The first thing I noticed was that my form wasn’t as bad as I thought. I’ve been working hard at moving away from the heel strike and it’s definitely been paying off! One thing that I found interesting though was the textured part of the insole actually extends, at least for me, a little bit into my mid-foot as well. When I was first running I definitely could tell when I was mid-foot striking instead of forefoot striking. Amazingly, even when you’re running and putting all that extra pressure on your feet the insoles still never hurt. I even let go of my form for a little bit and let myself slip back into a heel strike just to be able to determine if there is a difference. I could definitely tell when I was running on my heel over the other areas of my foot, but it never got too uncomfortable or painful.
Near the end of my first run with these insole I was starting to lose steam. Throughout the run I had been focusing on my form, but after the last big hill I just couldn’t keep it together anymore. For me, when I get tired there are a few tell-tale signs: I break at the hips, my shoulders go up, my torso rotates, and I heel strike. I actually thought my form was still pretty good but once I crested that hill right away I knew, without consciously thinking about it, that I was heel striking again. I was impressed that these insoles were able to point out to me that I was slipping back into my old patterns. If I didn’t believe in the product before I did after that run.
I have taken these insoles out for all my successive runs and I think I am getting better each time. I still think it’s a really strange sensation when I first slip them on and I am walking around, but as soon as I start running I pretty much all but forget about them even being there, unless my form gets sloppy. I am now able to tell right away and fix my form for the rest of the run, rather than reinforcing the bad habits by continuing to run like that.
One word of caution while using these: Don’t try to change your form too fast! It may be exciting to try to finally nail that forefoot strike and you might like how the changes feel, but your body needs time to adapt to the new running style. Running on your forefoot places a lot more strain on your Achilles tendon. Without a proper adaptation phase you’re running the risk of getting Achilles tendinitis. The whole point of correcting your running form is to prevent injury, not cause it, so please be smart. My calf muscles were on fire the first time I used these; a small change in form can affect your body in a major way.
I would suggest getting a pair of shoes just for your ShoeCue insoles. Not that you couldn’t just wear it all the time, but I’d imagine you’d wear them out a lot faster if you just walked in them all day. Also, I could see your body adapting to them too much and you wouldn’t get that instant feedback while you’re running if you form starts to suffer. I could also imagine that switching insoles in your shoes whenever you wanted to go for a run could get pretty old. Even if you have to go out and buy a new pair of shoes, I say do it. Put in your ShoeCue insoles and be done with it. And seriously, who doesn’t like buying new running shoes??
You may also need to pay attention to what socks you wear while using the insoles. I found I can still feel them with thick, traditional cotton socks, but not nearly as well. I have been using a thin, synthetic sock and I feel the response is much better with the insoles. If you’re one of those strange people that don’t wear socks while you run, well, carry on.
One other recommendation I would give is to make sure your shoes are laced tightly. And if your shoe does come untied, stop to tie it. In one of my earlier runs I didn’t tie my right shoe well enough and eventually it came untied. My foot was a little loose in there and my heel was sliding around a little and was rubbing on the textured part of the insole. I can see someone, especially starting out with the insoles, getting blisters from the friction caused by the ill-fitting shoe. Make sure your shoes and on well and laced tightly. When they are you’ll have a great experience with them.
Overall I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who runs at all. I know that a lot of pro athletes have started using them for anything from road races to obstacle course racing. They feel well made and are surprisingly comfortable to run on. They are a well designed and helpful product. I think what you get for the price is well worth the investment.
If you’re interested in taking them out for a spin you can buy them here:
If you decide to pick some up please come back and tell me what you think of them!
** Please be aware that I purchased this product at full price with my own money. It was not a gift and there was no compensation for this review. I have not and will not receive any compensation for this review. This is just me, sharing my opinion.