Product Review: RX Sorbo Insoles (with Giveaway!)

Before I get to the review, lots of news to share!

Let’s get the bad out of the way first.

Because the baby’s due date is only three weeks away, I’ve decided to free up some time in my schedule.  I wouldn’t dream of giving up No Meat Athlete, so I’ve decided I need to stop contributing to Running Shorts, the True/Slant column I write with Megan.  Megan will continue writing by herself, and I have no doubt she’ll do a great job, so please keep reading it!  You can read my goodbye post about my plans for the future as a dad and a runner.

Ok, now the good news!  Three of those:

  • I’ve chosen the race I’d like to run for my first 50-miler!  Right now I’m trying to finagle a free entry, but as soon as I’m signed up I’ll let you know which one it is.  It’s only a few months away, but I know it’s the right decision because of how excited I am about it.
  • My sister Christine, who writes the Sweet-Tooth Friday posts here, is moving in with us tonight!  She’ll be here at least until she goes to law school in the fall.  Gee, do you think we’ll cook much?
  • I’ve lined up some awesome guest posters so that I can take a couple days off when the baby comes.  Can’t tell you who, but if they all come through, we’ll have a vegetarian triathlete blogger, a fabulous raw foodie, a vegetarian ultrarunner blogger (who isn’t me), and a cool beer guy (who isn’t me).  I’m excited to read the posts myself.

An insole dilemma

When a nice guy from RX Sorbo Insoles emailed me to ask if I’d be willing to try and review their product, I was a little bit torn.

I try as hard as I can to keep an open mind and not buy in to anything completely unless I have very strong reasons to do so.  But I’ve found the studies about the benefits of barefoot and near-barefoot running so convincing that I consider myself a believer. My feeling is that excess cushioning and support in our shoes only encourage us to run with bad form and injure ourselves.

Because insoles generally add either support or cushioning, they’re taking the opposite approach to injury prevention than barefoot running.  I explained to the company that I’m a barefoot apologist, and when they said they’d still like me to do the review, I gladly accepted and chose two pairs of insoles to put to the test.

Ultra Work-Sport Insoles

The first pair I tried were the Ultra Work-Sport.  These are pretty standards insoles designed to absorb foot-strike shock, and RX Sorbo claims they absorb 94.7% percent of it, more than any other insole on the market.  And the top layer is antimicrobial and moisture-wicking, something that would prove important for me (as we’ll see).

I first tried the Ultra Work-Sport insoles on a tough trail run of six or seven miles.  I was concerned that the added cushioning would result in less stability while running on rocks and roots, but that wasn’t the case at all.  In fact, I enjoyed the softer ride than that offered by the standard insoles in my Salomon trail shoes.  What’s more, these shoes have always given me blisters, and on this run I got none to speak of.  I’m endlessly grateful for that, since I was worried that the Salomon’s had been a $120 waste.

I also had to run through an ankle-deep stream, and though the insoles got a little squishy after the submersion, I was surprised that they had completely dried out by the next day, even after I left them in the shoes.

Then I tried them this morning in my road shoes and found them much less enjoyable to run in.  I felt that I couldn’t feel the ground the way I normally do; if there was any additional cushioning, the added comfort was offset by the lack of feedback from the ground.  94.7% of this too, it seems, is absorbed by the insoles, and to me, that’s not worth it.

Conclusion: The Ultra Work Insoles have a permanent home in my trail shoes.  By eliminating blister issues and making the Salomon’s wearable, they might have saved me a hundred bucks.  In the road shoes, I could take or leave them.

Ultra Orthotic Arch Insoles

The other pair I selected was the Ultra Orthotic Arch Insoles, which have a tough, graphite arch in them.  The word “orthotic” hooked me here; when I used to have shin problems it seemed everyone recommend orthotics because I overpronated.

“Strangely,” my shin problems were cured when I switched out of the stability shoes I was wearing and into neutral shoes.  (Once I read more about the arguments for barefoot running, I came to realize that this wasn’t so strange, after all.)

I never liked stability shoes, thinking they felt too clunky, like I was running on blocks.  My hope was that these orthotic insoles might not feel like that, since the arch support is a thin piece of flexible graphite.

No such luck.  When I tried these out, I felt exactly the same way as I used to when I ran in stability shoes.  No feedback from the ground—it kind of felt like I was running on 2×4’s.  I also found that the insole slid forward in my shoe so that the ball of my foot landed on the graphite, which was somewhat painful.  Maybe a fitting issue.

Finally, when I took these out of my shoes, I was disappointed to find that the graphite was tearing away from the foam insole after only the short run I had worn them on.

Conclusion: These are not for me, for the same reason that stability shoes are not for me.  If you believe orthotics are what you need but custom ones are too expensive, this might be a cheaper alternative for you to try out.  (Although, if you believe you need orthotics, I’d encourage you to read some of the studies on barefoot running first.)

The Giveaway!

RX Sorbo has been nice enough to offer a pair of insoles for a lucky NMA reader.  To enter, all you need to do is visit their insoles page and leave a comment letting me know which of their six types of insoles you’re most interested in trying.  I’m not sure if they’ll give the winner their choice of insole or if they’re giving away a specific pair, but we owe it to them to at least visit their site, don’t we?  Thank you, RX Sorbo!

I’ll keep the contest open for a week, and I’ll announce the winner next Sunday night or Monday.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!



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  1. I’d want to try the Sorbothane Ultra Work Sport insole for runs! I don’t think I have any need for more arch support, but I love extra cush and shock absorption!

  2. Never tried replacement insoles before. I think I’d try the Ultra Work Sport Insoles. I have a pair of trail shoes that have plenty of tread left, but the insoles are shot. Maybe these could breathe new life into them?
    .-= Andy´s last blog ..andycampbell: Whoa. If you’re in No. VA this weekend, you have 2 come 2 @FairfaxCC for worship. Unreal… #fb =-.

  3. I’ve never used insoles before…I’m recovering from knee surgery and I’m about 4 weeks away from being able to run (aka jog). My physical therapist reminded me to get a new pair of shoes and suggested that I try an insert to help. The orthotic one looks like it would be pretty helpful for me!

  4. Fun giveaway, but I’m going to skip entering…I think they may do me more harm than good in my runs. Sorry to hear you have to give up your running shorts but I think that is MORE than understandable! Can’t wait to see what you and Christine cook up! Hope you had a fun weekend
    .-= Erica´s last blog ..ICBINB Fridge Makeover & Oatmeal Cookies =-.

  5. I think I’d go for the ultra work sport insoles. I am on my feet in workout shoes most the day going from class to class, runs, spinning etc. I’ve just started running again after a knee injury so I’d actually love the extra cushioning!

    Thanks for the review and the opportunity!
    .-= Di´s last blog ..Rest day =-.

  6. I want the Sorbothane Metatarsal pad because of my left foot issues. I have an inflammed tendon and the extra padding would be awesome 🙂

    your sister is moving in? FREE BABYSITTER!
    .-= Meredith @ Sweat Every Day´s last blog ..reflections on my race =-.

  7. I would like to try the Ultra Work Sport Insole, since I’m not sure how the other ones might help me. I don’t have much of a foot arch, so the arch one probably won’t help…
    .-= Julie (A Case of the Runs)´s last blog ..Milks and a Few Extra Seconds =-.

  8. I think I’d like to try the sport insoles that you reviewed. Or perhaps the Sorbothane Sorboair insoles. I spent a good amount of time perusing the company website. These seem like very interesting insoles, and it’s interesting to see how the insoles are developed for different needs (arch, fitness minded, anti-fatigue). Thanks for sharing and thanks for the opportunity to win a pair!

  9. Chris H. says:

    I would love to try the Ultra Work Sport! As a college athlete who puts on some serious millage both on roads and trails and who has had a history of tendinitis in the feet, the extra shock absorption should be interesting to try out.

  10. Brittney says:

    Hey Matt-
    I’ve never really been one to invest in insoles mainly just because I never felt like paying the extra dough for them…but were I to try a pair for FREE!! I would go with the UltraWork Sport ones…they seem the most versatile and I like that they hinted at lightweight. I think a clunky insole with too much support would drive me nuts. Hope I win!
    ps–I love that you manage to find such fun giveaways!

  11. 🙂
    I would looove to try the everyday, Sorbothane® SorboLite® Walking Insoles. I get a little weirded out by inserts for running, like it might throw off my groove, but WAAAALKING, women wear such impracticable shoes sometimes, so these would be great to try in some of my no-support sneakers. 🙂

  12. I think I’d like to try the Ultra Work Sport. It would be worth trying them on trails. Best wishes with the baby!!!

  13. With having one leg longer than the other, and with walking ALL the time, my feet and legs take a hell of a beating. I could definitely use some insoles!

    I like the sounds of the Trim to Fit Insoles; the would be exactly what I’d find useful.
    .-= Sagan´s last blog ..Reader Mail from the Sisterroommate/traveller: Losing Weight Overseas =-.

  14. sole me up

  15. I would love to try the ultra orthotic arch insoles.

  16. I’d love to try out their air insoles, they sound nice and light. Most insoles feel like they get in the way or add too much bulk.

  17. I’d like to try the ultra orthotic arch insoles!! 🙂
    .-= Abby´s last blog ..Zoom, Zoom =-.

  18. I’d love to try either the orthodic arch support ones or the sport ones. What a great giveaway!

  19. I’d try the Ultra Work Sport Insoles – i have a pair of Sauconys whose insoles I lost, and have been looking to replace. These look like they’d fit the bill nicely.

    Congrats on your upcoming addition – we adopted our first daughter in January, and never looked back.
    .-= Roy S.´s last undefined ..If you register your site for free at =-.

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