by | Jan 20, 2022 | Product Design


A standardized insole might “get the job done” for the average person – but more and more, consumers are looking for footwear that works for their lifestyle and activities. Designed flat to accommodate the general wearer, standardized insoles are reliable for shoe designers who need to meet diverse customer demands, but fail to accommodate the way people really move. Now, insole technology is making it easier for shoe designers to adopt more ergonomic, high-performing insoles that both cater to the common needs of wearers and elevate the quality of the footwear.

High Time for a New Approach to Insole Technology

According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the health status of U.S. adults, about 44% of American adults – a population of 50.2 million – experience chronic hip, knee, or foot pain.

Traditionally, these types of pains have been treated by efforts to correct or control movement patterns that can cause or exacerbate injuries. However, addressing movement patterns alone has not proven effective in reducing injury rates over time. To target the real causes of foot and related pain, it’s critical to look at how people really move and understand the forces behind movement. In this way, we can take a more preventive approach to footwear and insole technology and design, and better understand how the two can work together.

With the help of our biomechanics research team, INSITE utilizes cutting-edge technology and testing methods to better understand unique movement patterns and how they impact the foot based on a specific insole in a shoe.

  • Human Factor Analysis: How people move during specific activities.
  • Biomechanics: How the muscles, tissue, ligaments, and other elements of the foot are impacted during those specific activities.
  • Pressure Mapping: Identifying hotspots and understanding how to redistribute pressure for reduced gait impact.
  • Psychometric Testing: Quantifying a wearer’s level of perceived comfort in a shoe with a specific insole.
  • 3D Motion Capture: A way to track the body’s center of mass and underfoot stability.
  • Oxygen Measurement: Tracking oxygen consumption and muscle response during activity to determine the level of performance an insole can support and ensure it’s appropriate for the type, duration, and intensity of movement.

What Do These Innovative Approaches to Insole Design Mean for Footwear Brands?

By designing insoles based on how people really move, we can elevate the quality of footwear overall.

Using shoe design data from your new or existing footwear line, INSITE® leverages our innovative science and technology to create a custom 3D-printed insole that accommodates the average wearer. This customized approach potentially eliminates the need for a customer to seek out a custom orthotic to replace a standardized insole.

If you design insoles for specific footwear based on how that footwear will be used, you’ll ensure the appropriate level of comfort, performance, and support. For example, consider a work boot versus a trail runner. Both types of footwear need ergonomic features but must offer it up in a different way based on the activities being performed in each shoe.

Our biomechanics research and testing methodologies are done in tandem with the footwear they’re designed for, which allows footwear innovators to get real data on their ergonomic designs.

Sustainable Insole Innovations

In addition to insole design and enhanced ergonomic benefits, many innovations in footwear are sustainability-related – more brands are creating sustainable footwear made from plant-based and recycled materials and manufactured using sustainable practices.

Global fashion shopping platform Lyst stated in its 2021 Conscious Fashion report that demand for recycled sneakers has increased by 55%, with similar gains for vegan footwear. Additionally, plant-dyed footwear has seen an incredible 131% increase in demand.

Consumers are driving sustainability trends among brands, leading to greater innovation in both insole and footwear designs.

At INSITE, we produce both plant-based insoles and insoles made using recycled materials. This includes not only our poured PU products but also our breathable open-cell PU foams, which lead the industry with 25% plant-based content.

Our plant-based foams and manufacturing methods are the building blocks of our sustainability practices:

  • The use of bio-propanediol (PDO), or plant-based, compounds saves 48% greenhouse gas emissions and 46% non-renewable energy use when compared to petrochemical alternatives.
  • The use of solution-dyed textiles, which saves water and energy, and reduces CO2 emissions.
  • The use of poured PU into a mold, which results in dramatic material savings over cutting insoles out of a larger sheet.

Footwear brands that adopt a sustainable insole for their sustainable footwear can tell a more impactful ecological story to customers, which carries more weight in today’s environmentally-conscious market than ever before.

Is it time for your brand to innovate your footwear to meet today’s demands for comfort, performance, support, and sustainability? The right insole can make all the difference. Learn more about how INSITE uses data-driven research to craft the perfect insole to meet the specifications of your footwear line.


Learn More About Data-Driven Research

Insole Insights

Sustainability Squared: Plant-Based Insoles that Last

Sustainability Squared: Plant-Based Insoles that Last

Combining sustainability and durability in the footwear industry is no easy feat, but at INSITE, it’s the cornerstone of everything we do. Read on to learn more about how our EcoComfort foams enhance our insoles’ performance.