ActivePro by CurrexSole is a sport specific insole that promises a lot. It claims to help with a plethora of conditions associated with exerting ones body in the name of competition and/or pleasure. Injury prevention is one of their big selling points, from minor ailments (blisters, Plantar Fasciitis, etc) through to major problems (knees, hips, hamstrings, etc). They also claim to help with cushioning, stability and moisture wicking.
All through the power of a dedicated, hi-tech and well fitted insole. With all this in mind, I decided to road test these under the harshest conditions of a rugby season for the feet. Namely rock-hard early season pitches, a well-known cause of sore feet and blisters for those (like me) who don’t opt for mouldies and stick doggedly to studs. As a front row forward I’ve never felt comfortable scrummaging in blades, they might be okay for backs and the like but not for this, old-school, black-boot- wearing, prop.
Anyway, after a brief online exchange about my shoe size and desired use (rugby) I was asked to wet my bare feet and step onto some newspaper. Once I had done this I then matched the shape of my footprint to some online images and was recommended the ActivePro Mid-sole for my foot type and sport of choice.
After a couple of days the product arrived in a well packed box, complete with extensive fitting instructions and loads of advice about how to get the best out of the insoles.
The first revelation I had was how well made and sturdy the insole is, my expectation was something more akin to a cushioned, foam-type insole or gel based product. It was however rigid, with a hard- rubber heel that cups the foot perfectly and a more flexible instep which leads nicely into a cushioned toe area.
I was also pleasantly surprised by the look of the thing. For something that will be rarely seen it certainly looks the part. The insole design is more reminiscent of a piece of sports equipment than a medical or physiotherapy item. Following the step-by- step guide, I then took my trusty two year old, black, Kooga boots and removed the existing insole, along with the laces (for access) and, using scissors, trimmed the ActivePro insole down to my size. My boots, I quickly discovered, aren’t the exact shape of a size ten template and needed trimmed further in length and further adjustment on the width too. This wasn’t too onerous but I was a bit concerned I would go all Blue Peter and over trim, making them too small for the boot. However, I managed to control myself and with a bit of care they were soon nicely in and ready to go.
First game of the season and my boots felt fantastic on, like they were brand new and fitted my feet like a glove. I was also wearing new socks too which were of pretty poor quality and underneath these I had also opted for ankle socks to help avoid blisters.
This was nothing short of a disaster.
Over the course of the eighty minutes the cheap socks kept falling down, rumpling up under my instep and making the ankle socks twist and rub. My left boot also came off in a scrum too, leaving me defending the gain line with only one boot on for several minutes. Not ideal. My feet were blistered and sore for several days after the game.
To be fair, this wasn’t an entirely accurate examination of the insoles, so I decided to soldier on with them into the next game. Another hard pitch, another hot day. This time I changed back to last seasons socks, got some better ankle socks and tightened my boots properly for the game. I am delighted to say this time things went a lot better.
No blisters, no soreness and I was beginning to notice a difference in my legs and feet. In the past, the lower body muscle groups that would be sore following a game were primarily my quads and calves. After this second game these muscle groups weren’t too bad but I had some soreness down the outside of my lower leg (the outside of my calf/shin). It wasn’t too intense but it was certainly a new pain.
My legs also seemed to recover more swiftly than usual although it is difficult to attest this to the insoles due to a wide variety of variable factors. By the third game I was sold on the insoles. A tough game, on a hard pitch with a larger than normal volume of scrums saw me come off feeling relatively free of muscular aches in my quads and calves. Instead the pain from exertion was more evenly distributed throughout my lower body. My glutes had put in a shift but felt no sorer than my quads.
The pain in my lower leg was again more evenly distributed and my feet felt pretty much okay. Once again I seemed to recover quicker than expected too. Having given the CurrexSole ActivePro insole a fairly decent road-test I am now convinced they add value to my game in terms of stabilising my instep to allow my legs to access a wider range of muscle groups, giving me potentially more power and flexibility. My lower body muscles have also seemed to recover a lot faster following the three games in which I have been using the ActivePro insole.
Whilst this is a far from a scientific experiment, I can only report my experiences and they are, by- and-large, very positive.
At around £30-35 (available on Amazon or from CurrexSole direct) they are a bit of an investment but in proportion to the astronomical price of boots this amount seems fairly reasonable.
On the whole I would recommend ActivePro insoles but perhaps with the caveat that they are probably not a miracle cure for all ailments but certainly seemed to help me with stability, muscle dynamics and recovery.