Basketball can be one of the most brutal games in the world to play. While much of the world is becoming more and more aware of the dangers that football can bring to the body, few realize how much of a toll basketball can have on one. On the whole, basketball sees more injuries than football does. And it makes perfect sense as to why: there are more games! With basketball, you have the opportunity to not even notice an injury. You might have a little pain here or there. But those little pains, almost always taking place in the feet and legs, add up over time, and they can cause some serious issues to hamper you for an entire life time if you are not careful.
That is where insoles come into play. While an insole is never going to fully protect you against those occurrences, they can help you a lot. They also can seek to assist you after you’ve had an injury. As such, we’ll be taking a look at the most popular basketball insoles on the market and we’ll answer your questions on the subject as well.
Top Basketball Insoles Comparison Chart
|1. Sof Sole Performance Full-Length Gel Insert||Adult & Youth||$$$|
|2. Physix Gear Arch Support Insert||Adult||$$$4|
|3. Powerstep Original Full Length Insoles||Adult||$$$$|
|4. Wernies Neutral Arch Sneaker Insert||Adult||$$$|
|5. Dogdan Athletic Insoles||Adult & Youth||$$$$|
|6. Spenco GRF Basketball Performance Insoles||Adult||$$$$|
|7. WalkHero Arch Support Insoles||Adult & Youth||$$$$|
|8. NxtMile Kids Basketball Insoles||Adult & Youth||$$|
|9. Shock Doctor Active Ultra Insole||Adult||$$$$|
Basketball Insoles Buying Guide
Conditions and Definitions
There are few things that could be bothering you, and thus we will include them here on this list to help try to make your life much easier. First and foremost, the dreaded words Plantar Fasciitis come to mind. This is a debilitating injury that occurs to people that have taken repeated shocks to the feet. Whether you are a runner and have been pounding the pavement or a basketball player jumping up and down, it is the same sort of things. Repeated blows add up and it can take some time, but eventually they do make you pay for them. A pain in the heel that is quite common in people from all walks of life, Plantar Fasciitis, according to the Mayo Clinic, “involves inflammation of a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to you toes.” This pain has been known to present itself as a stabbing-like feeling. There are a number of causes that don’t relate to sports. One of them is wearing shoes that don’t have decent support to them where it counts. Being overweight also doesn’t help much, as it puts more strain on your footwear, which possibly wasn’t up to grade to begin with anyway. One thing that is interesting to note is that this pain usually is worse after you play than during. So if you are noticing something in game, it could be Plantar Fasciitis, but it is not the most likely culprit.
Stress fractures are also a huge thing to have to deal with, especially among those that have played the game a long time. We mentioned before about how basketball has more injuries involved than football. But did you know that overall that the length of injuries for NBA players is longer than those of NFL players? NFL injuries are usually very major, no doubt, with head and ACL injuries prevalent. However, the NBA sees more so-called ‘minor’ and niggling injuries take place. This is because of the repeated blows that build up over time, which can cause stress fractures. Stress fractures aren’t hard to cook up when you are jumping up and down on a hard court over and over again. You don’t even notice them at first, then they get a little noticeable, then a lot. It’s at that point that you can end up with a legitimate bone break because it’s just gone on so long without treatment. This is why so many games are missed by NBA players, and it also helps explain why many players just don’t have it in them as they reach the early to mid thirties in age.
Having flat feet is also a potential cause of issues in any sport that you might play, including the game of basketball. Flat feet can be genetic, as many can attest to. When you have flat feet, you have to absolutely get a pair of shoes that has support. Without it, the middle part of the foot will ache and scream out in agony. Genetics isn’t the only thing, though, that can contribute to it. Instead, you can develop it through running and jumping on hard surfaces, which forces the arches to collapse. This is why it’s so important to get good footwear to play in to begin with. If you’re past that point, an insert is going to be able to help. But try not to let it get there if at all possible!
Why Is This Such a Big Deal Nowadays?
The issue of Plantar Fasciitis, and other foot problems, too, seems to be picking up more and more nowadays, and there are a number of reasons for that. One of them has been mentioned before: the abundance of people that are obese and overweight does not help. But in sports, it has a lot to do with the footwear that is being pushed out there. Everyone wants to be lightweight now. The trend might have started in running shoes, where there are some that feel like feathers upon your feet, but it has now gone into the sport of basketball.
This is a huge worry. With companies doing their best to convince you that being lighter and quicker is the most important thing to think about, many people are forgoing even thinking about support. It’s common sense, just pure common sense, to know that the lighter the shoe the less protective ‘stuff’ it’s going to have. You’re not going to be able to have as much, plain and simple. Sure, the companies have gotten better and better at reducing the weight in some instances while giving support, but on the whole, a lighter shoe isn’t going to support you as well. So, it’s due to the lighter shoes, at least in my estimation, that a lot of these problems have arisen more abundantly. If you find yourself just really wanting to wear a pair of shoes that are light, likely to be low tops now with the way they are being pushed, then please make sure to find a good insert if you have had any shred of issues with feet. It will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run, that is for sure.
Support vs Comfort
Here is the part where we have to talk about something difficult: support. Comfort is one of those things we all seek to have. If we don’t like how something feels, whether it’s a shirt, socks, or shoes, we just won’t wear it for long. You might wear those high heels to the gala, but under the table, they’re coming off. Much like that, you have to have comfort. In an insole, you are going to want to experience comfort and to believe that you can wear them for an extended amount of time. However, with that said, you do not want something that is too comfortable. You might believe that there is no such thing as too much comfort, just like there’s no such thing as too much money.
But there actually is. A plush feeling is one thing to have, but it’s dangerous sometimes because it can lure you into a false sense of security. Comfort has to be had, we’ve established that, but you also have to have support. Some shoes do not have both. A pair of memory foam shoes do not automatically equate to shoes that will support you. Instead, they just promise to make you feel good inside of the shoes. Support, though, could come to you in a pair of shoes- or with inserts- and have a neutral comfort level to them. They might not make you feel as if you are walking on clouds all day, but they also won’t hurt you when you are finished playing. That’s what you should look for above all else. If you can find both, great. But if you can have only one, which did you think is the best choice for you?
Just like your actual shoe has to be a good fit for your foot, your insole has to be a good fit for your shoe. It is heavily encouraged that you try them out first. You may not be able to make alterations to them as of yet, until you buy them, but you will get a feel for the level of comfort that they might yield. If they don’t feel good, then you should forget about it right away. Aside from that, you need to make sure they have an area targeted if you need that. If you find a raised heel to be helpful, there’s no sense in going with a flat one. It’s a good idea to have a raised heel if you are flat footed. It gets the arches off the ground and provides a little bit more support to you.
As for the sizing, you need to make sure that it fits in to your shoe well. Some inserts are going to be longer or wider than others. If you have a wide foot, you are going to have to work a little bit harder to find a pair. You don’t want to have an insert that will protect just the inside parts. It would be incredibly uncomfortable anyway as the insert would surely wrinkle up and form into creases, making your life absolutely miserable in the process. Just because you have wide feet, doesn’t mean you need to go up a size, either. In fact, this might do more harm than good for you.
Type of Insoles
There are generally two types of inserts. Those that come fitted, and then those that are “adjustable.” Adjustable ones aren’t as great as they sound, but they aren’t evil or anything like that. Adjustable inserts are going to be ones that you basically have to cut and trim yourself. You do this by taking measuring them and then cutting them to your shoe’s size. In most cases, this type is a cheaper option, but the convenience is lacking to say the least. These inserts can do a good job, but they also might not. You have to make sure they are locked into place in there, or you might end up sliding around or getting that crease feeling. That’s not what you want at all, and it will keep you from enjoying them. If you decide to skip over that and go with a fitted insert, then that also has its perils. Some manufacturers are going to have inserts sized differently from others, so it is vital that you take a look at the guide on them to make sure they do fit. A size 12 might not fit so well in your size 12 shoes, but then again it might. The upside is that you should be able to take them back if they fit well, unlike if you make those cuts you have to make with adjustable inserts.
Also, you need to take into account the thickness of the insert. In theory, the thicker the insert is, the more protective, right? Well, in general yes. But it goes beyond that. Some shoes are already thick. Maybe you have a shoe that just won’t let you pull its insert out. If this is the case, you might want to find a new shoe. If you do keep it, though, you need to make sure the insert can lay flat on it without creasing and that you can squeeze your feet into them without them rubbing up against the laces too much. This is brutal on your feet. It can cut your circulation off, and it can also causing blistering and other irritation to occur. You can avoid that by just skipping over them. Just because an insert is thin doesn’t mean it won’t work, this is just to let you know that you need to make sure they fit in this way as well.
How long your inserts last is going to simply come down to the manner in which you use them. If you find yourself using a pair of inserts in multiple shoes, for example, you are going to have to have a pair that holds up for a while. The changing and wearing of them all the time is going to take a toll. However, if you are just going to use them for certain activities, they should last much longer. Of course, there are always going to be defects and bad ones, no matter how high quality a brand is or claims to be. If you have persistent problems, it might be a great idea for you to just get two or three sets of inserts. Even with fitted ones, they can be tough to change out frequently, and they will discourage you from doing so. Furthermore, not all shoes are fitted the exact same. Nike 12’s, Kobe Bryant 12’s, and Adidas 12’s could be totally different, and then you would be in trouble. Even shoes within the same brand can size differently, so you could avoid that with multiple pairs.
As always, materials used can indicate the quality of a product. With inserts, there are a few options that they can be made with. Insoles can use things like nylon, silicone, and gel. Nylon is good for adding extra firmness and support. It does this heavily in many in the heel area, which as we have discussed a lot already, is a big time problem spot. Gel is another good option. Following in the path of Asics a little, this type does a good job at helping absorb some of those shocks by adding extra cushioning to the shoes. Silicone is very durable, so there is that plus. On top of that, it also does a good job at being supportive while being soft and pliable to the foot. When it comes down to it, the heavier support comes from nylon. The more cushy and comfy stuff is going to be made from things like EVA, which is similar to gel. Some inserts also have features like cooling or even bacteria fighting. This will help you breathe a little bit easier, and it could also make sure that your shoes don’t get all musty and smelly. These are just more options that you can find out there.
Custom Orthopedic Insoles
If you have a terrible time with your feet, don’t be so quick to get a custom orthotic. Of course, if you are dying of pain, visit a doctor. But do not assume that you need a custom insert to be made for you. The reason why is because the studies have shown that custom ones aren’t all that different from the ones you can buy that are mass produced online or in stores. This isn’t to say that custom inserts aren’t going to work for you, it’s just going to help you save a lot of money over the long run. People that actually have feet that are misshaped- whether through genetics or accidents- might need them, but just because you have pain, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be helped, if not fixed, by an insert from elsewhere that’s not custom made.
Best Basketball Insoles Reviews
Sof Sole Performance Full-Length Gel Insert
Sof Sole tops our list today with an insert that is good for the general user. Those with high arches, flat feet, and those in between would be happy to have these as they use a gel padding in the both the forefoot and the heel area to support you. These inserts can even help you correct your gait while in motion, which is a big plus to have that can cure some of your problems. One of the things you’ll enjoy most is their Hydrologix technology, which is used to make sure the foot keeps dry and also ensures that you don’t smell terrible after using them on the court. With the right person and with the right fit, they can be extremely durable. These are going to have to be trimmed by you to get them just perfect, so keep that in mind. Also, the heel area is a little bit too thick for some tastes, and you will just have to judge for yourself by wearing them to see if you like them or not.
- Can be very durable
- Good neutral option
- Keeps feet dry and smelling decent
- Might need to be trimmed
- Heel area is kind of thick
Physix Gear Arch Support Insert
If you have high arches and find yourself in pain, or you want to avoid said pains, then this option from Physix could do you a world of good. Made from EVA, they are going to be very comfortable to wear and also durable as they have used polyurethane as well. The heel area is deeply guarded, as it cradles you in and makes you more secure by giving you more support in that very important spot of the foot. Like the Sof Sole, it has anti-microbial properties to help you shake off those odors. One of the things that they do best is make sure that you do not slip while wearing them, as they do a good job of shaping to your foot. A couple of the negatives with this pair include the fact that they aren’t as durable as other options. This might be pair that you want to use just on the court, and you might want a couple. Another thing is that they don’t have a lot of support in the ball of the foot, so if you are flat footed, these are definitely not for you then!
- Great if you have high arches
- Heel area is padded and secure
- Very comfy
- No ball support and not for flat feet
- Not quite as durable as you might like
Powerstep Original Full Length Insoles
Using polypropylene, the Powerstep is a great insole for basketball because of its dual layered cushioning system. By having two layers, you are adding to what is already hopefully a supportive shoe to give you a shield against all of those consistent shocks to the feet. These insoles use what they call Variable Cushioning Technology, which is just fancy talk for an insole that is meant to give you maximum levels of support while still remaining flexible and not too rigid for the user. They also are going to help prevent those tiny stresses and strains that go unnoticed by us. The insole has a heel cradle and it does tilt downward a bit, so those with flat feet might want to stick away as the ball of the foot is a little unguarded in comparison to the heel. These are very thin as well, which is a big plus if you happen to be worried about squeezing them into your shoes. They also can run a little wide for some users, which could be a plus if you do happen to have wide feet.
- Very flexible
- Thin and easy to get in your shoes
- Quite wide
- Heel area gives a ton of support to some’s annoyance
- Not ball support for flat footers
- Could be too wide for narrow feet
Wernies Neutral Arch Sneaker Insert
With an exceptional price that will make you happy, Wernies comes in at the fourth spot with their neutral arch insert that should do a job for everyone. Using EVA and gel to give you a comfy experience, these inserts also absorb shocks and cushion your feet all day long on the court. Because of the foam they have used, they are flexible, making them ideal for basketball. They might not have quite as much support as others for this reason, but if paired with a good supportive shoe, it should be plenty for you to make you happy. The Arch is reinforced, though you don’t have an obvious protrusion like many you’ll see. It’s just slightly raised, while the heel does have a cup to secure your foot that little bit better. The bottom of them has a honeycomb design that is made to make sure you don’t slip inside your shoes. One thing to watch out for, along with the lack of support compared to others, is that they can make a lot of noise after use.
- Great inexpensive price
- Very flexible
- Won’t allow you to slip inside the shoe
- Not as supportive as sturdier models
- Can get noisy and annoying
Dogdan Athletic Insoles
If you want a very breathable insert that will also keep you going, this is the one for you, and it also happens to come at a very low price, the lowest amongst our list thus far. The Dogdan insoles use what is called anti-fatigue technology. It is becoming more and more popular in the world of shoes and inserts, and it serves to make you lose less energy by returning the energy to you. The insoles fit to your own personal anatomy, molding to you, while making sure that you also don’t stink or build up with moisture. These have a ton of places to air out, so they will aid your shoes with it. The bottoms use gel in them, making them soft, flexible, and pliable to use, increasing comfort. The arch is designed ‘dynamically’ to fit all arch types and foot types, aiding you in your game. They do require some trimming, so be ready for that. They are not very rigid, so just know that installation will be a little tough.
- Won’t tire you out
- Extremely low price
- Very soft
- Not rigid and tough to get in to the shoe
- Takes some trimming to get it right
Spenco GRF Basketball Performance Insoles
Designed specifically with basketball in mind, Spenco’s GRF is made for performance on the court. One of the things that is most noticeable about them is the fact that they are ‘semi-rigid.’ This means that while they are not super soft, they are not super hard, either. This means you get support and can get them in easily without being overpowered by them being too hard on your feet. Furthermore, this helps to make you feel stable and also absorbs those shocks that will be coming back at you from the floor. The energy return system is in full effect with them, and they also have a great area for the forefoot that allows you to launch off toward the hoop. Also including a crash pad, they will help you when you come back down. They are a bit expensive compared to the others and they also must be washed by hand, so those are the negatives.
- Made just for basketball
- Has energy return
- Great protection in forefoot
- More costly than most
- Must be washed by hand
WalkHero Arch Support Insoles
Coming in at a low to mid price range, the WalkHero is a good insert for those that need to pay a reasonable price and get a lot of use out of them. These are just that because they are pretty thick compared to others, meaning they are more durable. It also means that they offer you great cushioning on the court, too. This type of insert has shown to be great for those with flat feet as the EVA has done a good job of making them absorb those shocks a little bit better. They aren’t the best in the world for those with a high arch, though, so that is something you should be keeping in mind. The comfort is very high with them, as is the positioning of the foot thanks to the heel cup that is uses to accomplish its task of keeping you locked in and stable as you run and jump. Be aware that besides the high arches being an issue with them that they also don’t have a lot of heel cushioning.
- Thick and durable
- Good for flat feet
- Stable thanks to heel cup
- High arches not supported much
- Not much cushion in the heel
NxtMile Kids Basketball Insoles
If you have a child that is having issues, this is a pair that you might turn to. Despite them being higher priced than the other options we’ve seen, these can do a job for your kid thanks to the Dupont Engage tech they have used throughout them. That helps them reduce the amount of fatigue that the foot experiences, allowing your young player to be more agile on the court, and it also makes them very comfortable. The heel is lifted above the forefoot quite a bit (a 3 to 1 ratio), so it will be better for those with high arches than flat footers. The arches are stabilized and allow them to move from side to side thanks to the bottoms of the inserts and the way they have been engineered. If you have seen your child have issues hurting, these could help a lot. They do take a bit of time to break in and have a bit of cost to them, but they are worth the money if your child already has these types of problems.
- Great for kids’ feet
- Lessens tiredness
- Arches secured and supported
- Costs a pretty penny
- Takes some time to break them in
Shock Doctor Active Ultra Insole
Coming in at the top part of the mid price range and sometimes ranging to high, the Shock Doctor Active Ultra is a good insole for those that want top-tier quality on the court. The Ultra is going to be more flexible than most of their other offerings as it is made with basketball in mind. This makes them comfy to wear, but it doesn’t mean they don’t support you. They do, in fact, do that by keeping your foot stable. The thing you’d expect given the name is shock absorption, and that is what they do. They have a shock pad in both the forefoot and the heel, meaning you don’t have to pick one over the other, unlike in some pairs. They even have a layer of foam over the top of them to give you even more padding when you jump up and land. They are also anti-slip and won’t build up with bacteria, either. They are a bit expensive and thin for some’s liking, and they take about a week to break in, but overall a good insert for those that need them.
- Excellent shock absorbing properties
- Very comfy
- Won’t allow you to slip inside
- Cost is a little high
- Thin compared to some
- Takes time to break in
Conclusion & Final Recommendations About Basketball Insoles
Realizing that you have foot issues is a blow when you first come to the conclusion. It is tough to combat that feeling because you just don’t know what to do or what to turn to. Do you just stop playing altogether, or do you fight through pain. Thankfully, neither of those have to be done. Instead, you can find a good pair of shoes and then couple them with an insert that fits your needs. By doing that, your feet won’t hurt as much, and you will save money and all of that grief from hurting. As you can see, there is much more to it than meets the eye, but after today, you now have a better understanding through our guide and can make a better purchasing decision!
FAQ’s About Basketball Insoles
I Have Tried Similar Inserts and They Don’t Help, What Do I Do?
Unfortunately, it looks like you need to see a Doctor. A podiatrist, or a foot specialist, is just what you need to seek out if this is you. For many people, inserts get the job done and will allow you to feel better and hopefully play better as well. However, sometimes that doesn’t clear up the issues. While it’s always a good idea to try inserts first, if they aren’t working for you, then you’ve just got to go to something that will. And a Doctor might just be the only way for you to get back to feeling like yourself.
Are There Other Things to Try Besides Doctors Visits?
There are some other things that you can try, but if you are having chronic and persistent pains despite all of your efforts with these, you really need to see a Doctor. RICE is never a bad idea. It’s simply resting and applying ice. Try to stay off your feet as much as possible. Sometimes, inflammation occurs. If this happens, then you might even want to try Tylenol or something like that to help it go down. If none of this works much at all, though, please take the step to go to the Doc. Another thing to do might be to switch out your shoes. You might just have worn out the support within them and need a change. If this is the case, it might cost you a bit of money, but it can save you over the long run for sure.
Is It Worth Paying More Better With Insoles?
Inserts are one item that you shouldn’t concentrate on the price tag very much, if at all, with. Inserts can be great for you at a wide range of price points, and that means that you could end up with a good, cheap option that fits you. It’s more about how well they fit your needs. If they do not align with what you need, there is no sense in shelling out mega amounts of money to get them. A large price tag is not going to make up for a lack of quality in the areas you need it most. This is not to say that the inserts aren’t high quality, it’s just that they might not be high quality for YOU.