How Carbon Fiber Insoles Work and Who Should Buy Them

How Carbon Fiber Insoles Work and Who Should Buy Them

There’s nothing worse than purchasing the perfect shoe insole only to find that it falls apart or loses its supportiveness after a few months of serious use, especially if you’re a runner or someone who struggles with plantar fasciitis. The answer to these problems may be carbon fiber insoles.

Longstanding footwear technology has recently received an upgrade in the form of carbon fiber.

How carbon fiber insoles work is they provide superior support and durability to your feet due to being made from tough materials (carbon fiber) that will not breakdown over time like gel or foam insoles.

So while they may be more expensive, carbon fiber insoles could be the preferable investment for athletes and those shopping for a durable insole for running shoes.

Key Point: A carbon fiber shoe insole will stand up to the test of time and the wear and tear that comes with strenuous exercise.

Table of Contents

Shoe Insole Materials

How Carbon Fiber Insoles Work

The vast majority of shoe insoles are made of either foam or gel, or a combination of the two. But there’s a surprising number of different materials used by shoe manufacturers to make insoles.

Here’s the various materials that you can expect a shoe insole to be made of:

  • Gel
  • Foam
  • Leather
  • Cork
  • Plaster
  • Carbon Fiber
  • Rubber

Learn more about the various types of benefits of shoe insoles here.

Key Point: There are pros and cons to each of type of material used to make shoe insoles.

Why Shoe Insole Materials are Important

Here’s why they’re important and what they do (check out our guide to the best insoles on the market to learn more.)

Cork and Leather Insoles

These insoles are more common in dress shoes and are notoriously uncomfortable. These insoles provide poor shock absorption, little to no arch support, and thus are the worst option for improving athletic performance.

Rubber, Foam, and Gel Insoles

These insoles are common choices for both distance running footwear and everyday shoes. Particularly when combined in one shoe insole, these materials provide great cushion, shock absorption, arch support, and will help people recover from conditions like plantar plate sprains and other foot injuries.

Plaster Shoe Insoles

These are typically only used to as a short term solution, or to aid in acquiring an accurate foot mold. You can make these yourself if you need immediate relief while you search for good custom or molded shoe inserts.

Carbon Fiber Insoles

This innovative footwear technology is either made entirely from carbon fiber or they contain foam and gel that’s been reinforced by carbon fiber plates embedded in the shoes soles. The added support of carbon fibers helps to improve joint energy and the soleus muscle dynamics of the foot, improves shock absorption, and helps to prevent foot injuries.

Major Takeaway: Choosing the best materials for your shoe inserts is key to preventing foot injuries and optimizing athletic performance, particularly in activities like distance running or trail running–where the running surface is uneven and potentially dangerous, requiring more supportive footwear.

What is Carbon Fiber?

Carbon fiber insole

Also known as graphite fiber, carbon fiber is a polymer known for its superior durability and strength. Because of this, it’s used in all kinds of machinery–from airplanes to Ferraris to golf clubs.

Carbon fiber is strong, very strong–five times stronger than steel to be exact. It’s twice as stiff as steel, too. But it can be manufactured with more flexibility in mind, as is the case with some shoe manufacturers who want more leeway in the bending stiffness of their carbon fiber shoe soles.

Despite it’s strength and stiffness, carbon fiber is much lighter than steel. This makes it an ideal material to use in shoe insoles since it won’t make the shoe too heavy for athletic performance.

Key Point: Carbon fiber is an innovative material that is light, strong, and highly durable; perfect for increasing shoe bending stiffness and arch support in running shoes.

What are the Benefits of a Carbon Fiber Shoe Insole?

Benefits of carbon fibre insole

There’s a strong argument to be made that a carbon fiber insole is the best option for those who spend extended periods of time doing strenuous athletics activities.

If a carbon fiber insole is too stiff or doesn’t provide enough cushion or shock absorption, then you can consider a foam or gel shoe inserts with carbon fiber plates. In other words, you can get the best of both types of shoe insoles.

But what are the benefits of carbon fiber insoles specifically?

  • Lasts much longer that shoe insoles made of other materials.
  • Provides increased footwear bending stiffness.
  • Provides arch support and shock absorption.
  • Will provide great cushion if gel or foam is included in the design.
  • Can improve sprint performance and muscle activation in the feet.
  • Supports joint angles in the feet, knees, and hips.
  • Can improve trail running and distance running performance.
  • Can increase ground contact time and improve running economy of energy.
  • May decrease pain in the feet, ankles, and legs for athletes.
  • Reduces the risk of athletic injury to the feet.

Key Takeaway: Shoe inserts with carbon fiber plates will offer superior durability, protection, and support. As such, carbon fiber insoles are likely the best option to improve an athlete’s performance.

Why is Shoe Sole Bending Stiffness Important?

Shoe bending stiffness or longitudinal bending stiffness refers to how easily a shoe can be bent. To test this grab the toe box and heel of your shoe and bend one side towards the other with laces up.

If it bends without much resistance, your shoe has poor bending stiffness which can be a problem. Because studies have linked footwear bending stiffness to many aspects of athlete aerobic energy expenditure.

The Benefits of Bending Stiffness

  • One of the most distinct benefits of a carbon fiber insole is that it provides superior stiffness. Superior stiffness helps support the foot’s muscle activation and bone structure as weight is dispersed while moving.
  • Particularly while running, where weight quickly impacts upon the heel and then is transferred towards the front of the foot, bending stiffness is quite important.
  • In fact, a running shoe with poor bending stiffness can even lead to foot injuries like plantar plate strains or chronic conditions like plantar fasciitis, where the foot becomes flattened and looses its arch.

Key Point: Footwear bending stiffness is an often overlooked aspect of arch support and the health of your feet–especially during exercise.

Who Should Buy Carbon Fiber Shoe Insoles?

Athletes race with increased sprint performance by adding carbon fiber plates

Many individuals will likely find carbon fiber insoles appealing on account of their durability. But there are some clear selling points that will apply to some more than others.

For example, a carbon fiber shoe insole will probably appeal most to serious fitness enthusiasts, collegiate athletes, and runners.

Carbon Fiber Shoe Insole Buyer’s Checklist

We think you will be pleased with a carbon fiber insert if any of the following apply to you:

  1. You’re an athlete who struggles with plantar plate sprains or plantar fasciitis.
  2. You’re an athlete interested in preventing running injuries.
  3. You want to increase sprint performance by improving the bending stiffness of your running shoes.
  4. You’re interested in improving the footwear condition and its durability.
  5. You need extra durable and stiff arch support.
  6. You experience foot pain when a shoe has low bending stiffness.
  7. You often participate in high-impact activities like the vertical jump or trail running.

Key Point: Carbon fiber insoles are perfect for those who need extra support during strenuous physical exercise and those who want to prevent running injuries.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Carbon Fiber Insoles?

Many athletes prevent running injuries by adding carbon fiber plates

When it comes down to the pros and cons of a carbon fiber insole, the list is very lopsided towards the positive. So there aren’t too many reasons why you shouldn’t buy a carbon fiber insert.

However, it may be more cost effective to consider other types of shoe insoles if the following apply to you:

  • If you’re on a budget you can find great foam or gel shoe insoles for roughly half the price a carbon fiber insert.
  • If you don’t exercise too often then traditional shoe inserts might be durable enough for you.
  • If your shoes already have built-in cushion and arch support.

Conclusion: Carbon fiber insoles are ideal for athletes, runners, and those perform physically demanding tasks through the day. These insoles will last longer than other insoles and they help to keep your feet healthy and free from injury.

Jack Kelle

Jack is an entrepreneur, outdoorist, and animal lover with a background in philosophy, psychology, and business. He enjoys music, friends, and family. At RAVE, Jack works as the manager of marketing and content development.