The Shoe Sole Detective: Uncovering the Truth About Your Shoe Soles

September 12, 2022
Shoe Soles

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Shoe soles play an essential role in the longevity of your shoes, but they’re also pretty boring to study and understand how they work. We must study them nonetheless.

How often should you replace them? What are the different kinds? Do any of them do anything beyond just protecting your shoe? With these and many more burning questions, I am on a path to uncovering the truth behind shoe soles and sharing my findings with you.

What are the two main types of shoe soles?

A shoe has an insole and outer sole. An insole is a soft removable shoe insert for comfort and medical reasons, while the outer sole is the hard treaded part of a shoe that comes into direct contact with the ground.

The choice of an insole’s material is a personal decision that depends on your activity level, foot type, budget, and other factors. While the market has several of them, a common high-performance material is EVA or ethylene vinyl acetate foam. This foam is specifically designed to absorb shock, hold its shape well over time, and prevent moisture from building up inside. It is used for both medical and comfort reasons.

The outer sole may be anything from rubber to wood, provided it can withstand wear and tear and is not easily affected by moisture.

How can I tell if my soles are worn out?

If you find yourself answering yes to any of these questions, it may be time to start looking for a new pair of shoes.

  • Does your shoe feel uncomfortably tight when you first put it on?
  • Do your heels make an audible slapping sound every time you take a step?
  • Is there any visible damage to the shoe or sole?
  • Do you feel pain in your feet or lower back when walking in them?

How frequently should I replace insoles?

Chances are, you don’t really know how old your insoles are. Sure, they might feel pretty smooth and somewhat new; but when do they start to wear down and become less effective?

Insoles wear out to a replaceable level after every six months. 

Should I buy insoles from a local pharmacy?

Insoles can make a big difference for those who have foot pain or plan to have foot surgery. They can also work wonders for people with diabetes, as they improve circulation in the lower body and help prevent diabetic ulcers. However, many insoles are intended to be used long-term and should not be used with orthotics, especially if you’re seeking relief from plantar fasciitis. The most reliable way to purchase an insole is by going to a trusted shoe store.

For non-medical reasons, get both outer and insoles from at extremely affordable prices.

How long will it take my sole to develop molds?

Leather soles are prone to molding when there is sufficient moisture which may take up to 2 weeks for them to gray up.

Use mold killers such as hydrogen peroxide, tea tree oil, or vinegar to get rid of the mold. However, note that peroxide bleaches some materials. Use it with care.

Are custom insoles created equally?

There are a lot of factors that go into determining how effective an insole is going to be. How thick is it? What materials are being used? How many pairs of shoes can you wear them with? Does it have strong arch support? All these factors and more contribute to how well the insole will work for you. Keep in mind that not all insoles are created equal, and some are more personalized than others.

Bottom line

I have answered only a small portion of shoe sole questions. There is much more we need to learn, and if you have any questions about shoe soles or need one, talk to one of the suppliers on

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Andi Perullo de Ledesma

I am Andi Perullo de Ledesma, a Chinese Medicine Doctor and Travel Photojournalist in Charlotte, NC. I am also wife to Lucas and mother to Joaquín. Follow us as we explore life and the world one beautiful adventure at a time.

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