Review: Insolia Makes High Heels Bearable

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Insolia High Heel Inserts
When it comes to making high heels comfortable, we're all looking for miracles. Even the most adept high heel wearing diva wishes that her heels were just a smidge more comfy at the end of the day. Needless to say, when I heard about Insolia-- the new high heel insert being billed as a modern day shoe miracle-- I was curious. Had science finally found a way to make uber high heels wearable?

I had to find out for myself. And I needed reinforcements. Given that I wear an average of 2 inches of heel all day every day, I called in second and third opinion in the form of Stiletto Jungle contributing writers Pearl and Hannah-- two opinionated ladies who wear heels only when absolutely necessary. We set out to give Insolia a good once over.

What is Insolia?
Here are the details on Insolia. First, what it isn't. Insolia isn't a cushion or insole, it's not for flats, and it's certainly not for men's shoes. Actually, it looks kind of like a little flying saucer -- hardly comfortable looking!

According to the company, "Insolia products fundamentally change the inside of high heel shoes, shifting weight off the ball of the foot back to the heel." Insolia has an impressive pedigree to go along with that impressive statement: the design has appeared in the scholarly publication Biomechanics and has even received the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval.

You can see why I was so anxious to give this little device a try. So, Hannah, Pearl, and I each picked the most outrageously uncomfortable pair of shoes in our respective closets (see pics at top left) and went to work... literally.

From bottom left:
Hannah, Pearl, and Stephanie's
'test' shoe picks.
Insolia test #1: Conquering 4-inch platforms
Pearl, the most heel adverse of the three of us, had to be practically begged to give Insolia a try. Just the idea of spending all day in heels in the name of shopping journalism made her queasy. "Alright, alright... you know I'm going to be the biggest brat here. I'm scared for my feet. The last time I wore these shoes I was limping home. Oh yes, MOI... I decided to leave a very fun party early because my feet couldn't handle it and I literally took off my shoes in the middle of freaking SUNSET BLVD. Yeah, it was that bad."

Ok, walking out of a fun party, and then down Sunset barefooted, is pretty extreme for a LA-based music industry diva and girl about town. Could Insolia really make a difference for a girl as traumatized as Pearl?

"When I first opened the package I was happy to see they were clear and stuck onto your shoe in 2 pieces-- you peel off the first chunk of heel, adjust to your wear, and then you peel off the rest," Pearl reports back. "I loved that I could still see my shoe and it wasn't this huge piece of colored foam overwhelming my cute shoe. (see photo at bottom left) With that being said, it was confusing from their instructions exactly WHERE the insert is supposed to be placed. I played with it for a while before finding the right fit.

I tried them with some pretty high heels. The 4 inch ones, but they were partially platform so it was closer to 3 inch heels. These are pretty uncomfortable shoes. I wore them to work, and back home. At my job I'm not doing a ton of running around or even much walking, but I figured it was a good test to see if they could withstand regular wear.

I HATE heels. I do not wear them. I can't. I have flat feet and I've given them up. I keep a few pairs around to look at and pine over, but that's it. I cannot wear heels. These inserts were NOT miracle workers, but they did ease the pain a bit. This means that I wasn't limping by the end of the day, but I definitely wasn't feeling as happy as I am with flip flops! I will probably buy a couple more of these and see how they do in some of my other very pretty, but totally unwearable heels.

I've tried a TON of other types of inserts-- Dr. Scholl's, Soft Point, Superfeet, Spenco-- and these are probably better than most of them out there. So, what the hell, give them a shot. But don't expect them to work miracles, your feet still know they are in HEELS!"

Insolia High Heel Inserts
Insolia test #2: 4.5-inch stiletto pumps
Seeing how Pearl was pretty much dead set against this experiment, I think that qualifies as a rave review. My experience with Insolia was similar, relative to my high heel wearing abilities. I can wear most any high heels, particularly if they are 3 inches or less. So, for the sake of this experiment, I broke out the one and only pair of truly uncomfortable shoes I own. These babies are 4 1/2 inches of pure pointy toe divaliciousness poised on a single thin stiletto with nary a platform in sight. Seriously, they are so high that I practically get a nosebleed just by putting them on. They are not shoes for the weak at heart.

When I got the Insolia situated, after a rather involved and confusing procedure that required me to re-position several times, and finally tried on my shoes I was unimpressed. They felt just like the shoes always do when I first put them on: high, and not exactly sneaker-ish, but not painful.

10 hours later-- after a full day in the office and then hoofing it around the city from mailbox, to grocery store, to dry cleaner -- they felt the exact same. No happy spa feet feel. No squishy softness. I was disappointed until I stopped and thought about it. 10 hours in 4 1/2 inch stilettos and they still felt the exact same as when I first put them on. Damn. That's impressive.

Insolia test #3: Party shoes at a construction site
Seems Hannah, an executive assistant and freelance writer who hates heels only slightly less than Pearl, had an equally revelatory experience with Insolia.

"Okay, these insert things rock," Hannah offers. "Normally, my feet start hurting in these shoes after about half an hour... they are completely evil. So I wore them to work -- which is ludicrous, by the way, since I work on a construction site -- and went all day and was totally fine. So much so that I decided to go to the grocery store on my way home and see how that went.

Well, after an hour in the grocery store my feet hurt. I think grocery shopping in 4 inch stilettos may be even more ludicrous than being on a construction site in them though, and the only reason any sane person would ever do it would be to try out new inserts. If you do ever find yourself in this situation however, watch out for the grates in the floor. Seriously, I almost broke my ankle getting yogurt. But I digress, the point is I will probably be getting them for all my shoes with 3 inch heels or higher. Yes, the day went that well."

There you have it ladies. The sun may finally be shining on high heel wearers everywhere. If you have pair of heels that are just not quite right, I strongly suggest giving Insolia a try. What do you have to lose. Want to read more about the science and research behind Insolia? Check out the Insolia website.

→ Buy Insolia High Heel Inserts, $7.64 - $19.99, at

Disclosure: Review samples of Insolia were provided by Insolia; the reviewers received no compensation in exchange for their reviews.