The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics Guide to Insoles

Sponsored by Superfeet

What is Pronation?

Pronation is the shock absorbing and adaptive movement of the foot to the surface type we are walking on and it helps us to walk. Unfortunately this is designed to work on uneven surfaces and along with flat surfaces including roads and floors, there is also a flat surface on the inside of most shoes!  Over 80% of people excessively pronate (sometimes called over-pronation) which means their foot gets longer and wider when they stand. With 28 bones, 19 muscles, 33 joints and 112 ligaments in the foot, insoles are designed to help make feet more comfortable on flat surfaces and put some shape where it is needed.

Foot Pain/Problems 

As over 80% of adults have unstable feet it is not surprising that a number of people experience foot pain in their lifetime; even a blister is a foot problem! The link between unstable feet and an increase in foot problems is largely down to the design of modern footwear and less stable heel counters. Most people, especially those walking long distances, can benefit hugely from adding some shape into their shoes with an insole.


With 28 bones, the foot is a very technical structure but the largest bones, like the heel bone, are towards the back of the foot. By adding support around the heel bone and supporting the rear foot, an insole can reduce the rate of pronation, helping to improve walking efficiency and alignment. Good insoles can also decrease the amount of stress placed on other limbs and joints, most notably the knees and the lower back.


 Soft and flexible insoles are generally to be avoided. Sellers should look to recommend only those with a firm and supportive structure.  A good firm support will generally feel much softer underfoot as it uses the tissue underneath the foot to provide natural shock absorption. If an insole brand provides a money back guarantee this is generally a good sign that it can back up its claims.

Trying them out

Placing insoles into shoes to feel the benefit, as well as standing on them outside of the boot, is the best method of allowing a customer to feel some shape. People can experience some early discomfort as the insole reduces the pronation of the foot, but this is normal and should subside after a few days, bringing the benefits to light.

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