Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Review: P.R. Gear Bridge Soles 3/4 Length Insoles with Met Pad- the best $20 you will ever spend on your feet!

Article by Jeff Beck

PR Gear's Bridge Soles-3/4 Length Insoles with Met Pad ($20, 15% off with code: RTR15)

PR Gear's Bridge Soles are the latest entry in the running world from Golden Harper, Bridge Soles are the latest entry in the running world from Golden Harper, creator and Founder of Altra Running. It continues what is clearly Golden's desire to help runners with the issues that plague many of us - nagging injury. PR Gear says their Bridge Soles are:

"..designed specifically to take pressure off neuromas and other forefoot problems, as well as Plantar Fasciosis (formerly Plantar Fasciitis), and the Achilles Tendon. In addition, Bridge Soles are great for pulling pressure off of the lower calves which makes them an ideal tool for helping people transition from traditional shoes to more natural and/or zero drop footwear. Bridge Soles are designed to be a bridge to help relax and take pressure off the foot and lower leg while they adapt to a stronger, healthier state so they are no longer needed."

Sam arranged for me to test a pair, and I've been running, walking, and working out in them for several months leading up to this review. 

A little background, I've dealt with a neuroma in my left foot since mid/late 2019 so I'm the perfect test case for these, and there's no shortage of treatments and remedies I've pursued to try to address that - ranging from physical therapy and podiatrist visits to a wide variety of metatarsal pads and cushions. None of them have been long term effective. Or rather, none of them *had* been effective.

The Bridge Sole is a 3/4 length insole designed to be slipped underneath the current insole of your shoe and you keep your insole in the shoe. 
Because they are only 3/4 length, you don't have to trim them to fit the toebox in any way, and they'll work with standard shaped running shoes or more foot shaped shoes, like Topo's or Altra's offerings. 

There are three elements to it that set it apart from other inserts: a heel cup with extra padding, a reinforced but flexible arch, and one of the most robust metatarsal pads I've experienced. 
The thought behind it is that the extra support reduces the body's "landing response" and helps you stay relaxed during the gait cycle. While I don't have any way of testing my lower leg relaxation levels, I was impressed by how comfortable they were, and more importantly, what they did for my neuroma. 

Within a week of wearing them daily, my neuroma pain and numbness (it can rarely decide how it wants to act any given day) had diminished. It's hard to quantify what "less numbness" feels like, but months into wearing them daily I'm having forefoot discomfort rarely, which is a huge win.

The foam in the heel has broken down a bit over time, as their website said that it would, but the met pad is still very firm and supportive. The insoles aren't thick enough to throw off sizing, and you folks who are obsessed with measuring the drop of the shoe needn't worry, you don't need to get a larger size shoe to make them work, and at 21g, they don't make a shoe feel noticeably heavier by any stretch. I'd dabbled with similar inserts, even relying on a pair of extra heel pads whenever I'd test zero drop shoes on pavement to alleviate the calf strain the lower drop puts on my lower legs. I've never been one for orthotics, and even the more popular Superfeet inserts seemed both overkill and overpriced, while trying to fix problems I've never had. And speaking of that, my right foot doesn't have any issues like my left, but I still put an insole in each shoe and find my right foot doesn't mind the met pad, and still appreciates the extra overall cushioning. 

An unexpected bonus is that the insoles can slightly change the effective volume of a shoe - and not in the way you're likely thinking. I have slightly wider than D width feet, with wide toes and a slightly wide midfoot, and while I appreciate a very cushioned shoe, the predominant king of cushioning, Hoka, frequently makes their shoes in pretty narrow shapes. I noted in the Hoka Bondi 8 review that the midfoot/arch area was very narrow, and caused issues in the shoe pretty quickly, making one of the most cushioned shoes out there limited to only shorter runs before blisters would arise. On a whim I threw my Bridge Soles into the Bondi 8, and because my foot was now elevated slightly over the narrow pinch spot, it was like getting a new pair of shoes in the rotation. I've found a handful of other shoes that the Bridge Soles make the shoe fit my foot better, and I've yet to find any shoe that the insole ruins the fit, but of course your mileage may vary.

While I've found the Bridge Soles very impressive over the last few months in performance, the price is even more impressive. A $20 barrier to entry helps negative my biggest gripe, switching them from one pair to another (between shoes for review and personal use there's usually a few dozen pairs strewn about, most of them have their insoles partly pulled out for easy Bridge Sole installation), and I've even purchased two more pairs to reduce the number of swaps between shoes I need to do in a given week. Which should also mean they last that much longer - though I'm a big guy and my original pair has easily hundreds of hours of use, and they're still in great shape. 

I've tested a handful of random "shoe adjacent" accessories since I started writing for RTR more than five years ago. This is the first that was impressive enough to make me write the better part of a thousand words about how great they are - and place a follow up order. It also makes me wonder what's coming next, but with this execution and this price point, I'm more than intrigued.

The Bridge Sole ($19.99) is available in 4 sizes at PR Gear 
15% off with code: RTR15

Tester Profile

Jeff Beck is the token slow runner of the RTR lineup, and as such his viewpoints on shoe and gear can differ from those who routinely finish marathons in three hours or less. Jeff runs 20 miles per week on roads and trails around Denver, CO (and sometimes on the treadmill when the weather gets too much for a Phoenix native). Jeff only got into running in his 30s, as a result his career PR's are 4:07 for the marathon and 5K at 23:39. Jeff has finished several ultra marathons, from 50K up to 50 miles, and is still debating if he wants to go down that road again.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

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Anonymous said...

I bought a pair to try, but almost cancelled ordering when I saw this company had the audacity to include a tip line. That wins the prize for most ridiculous ask for a tip that I've seen.

Marduk said...

Nice, i have plantar fasciitis background and will be giving them a try. besides that, there is one more pragmatic reason which is that just that Hoka Tecton X fits too long on my foot in US 12. There is a heel slippage. I put in temporarily a second insole, which is Inov-8 G270 insole and it solves the fit issue except the toes feel cramped. A bit unsure about the sizing I would be trying the PR 3/4 insoles in L (up to US 11.5) I think, my most shoes are 12 and the Tecton 12.5 (yep), but I am not sure because Xl sounds large and i am afraid the Hoka is not as wide as the shoes Altra creator designed them for, any comment on that Sam?

Marduk said...

I've been waiting for insoles since it took a while to arrive to Europe but I can now report my experience and I couldn't be happier with them. The pad zones are very soft and plush and the insole (size XL) solved my fit issues in the Tecton 1st version. I took them to 16.5 miles door to trail run on the weekend and it felt so much before than before.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I tried these and they made my neuroma worse. I'm curious how you sized yours? I noticed after purchasing some fine print suggesting sizing down if buying specifically for a neuroma. Did you size down so the met pad hit behind the ball of foot? In my true to size, my ball of foot landed right in the pad.