Popular with reviewers who work in the service industry like nurses, chefs, and waitresses. Unisex with 8 sizes to choose from. Remarkable reports of complete reduction of foot pain and problems after use. Makes “flat sole” shoes wearable for those who need arch support.
Not for high impact activities, like running. There’s an initial break-in period of a couple weeks. Pricey.
Sturdy and semi-rigid without being uncomfortable. Instant pain relief for longtime sufferers of foot issues like plantar fasciitis – works even better than expensive custom orthotics for some reviewers. Antimicrobial. Unisex sizing. No trimming necessary. Works in athletic, casual, dress, and work boots.
Because this insole supports all arch types, not enough arch for some. There’s a breaking in period that requires patience.
Non-slip due to tacky gel material on undersides. Long life and durability. Come in both men’s and women’s sizes with no need to trim. Really cradle your foot. Cushy gel support in both heal and forefoot. Loved for their moisture and odor control. Also work well in work and combat boots.
Not a lot of arch support due to the “neutral” arch designed to fit all foot types. Insoles are thick.
Very cushiony and soft. Good arch support. Works for people with foot issues like heel spur and plantar fasciitis – can even drastically reduce pain. Unisex: comes in 3 sizes for both men and women. Recommended equally by reviewers who stand stationary on their feet all day and those who walk a lot.
Some reviewers complain insoles have too much of an arch.
Reduces (even eliminates) back pain and leg fatigue for those who work all day on hard or concrete floors. Multiple sizes to choose from for men (XS - XXL). Ideal for work boots and steel-toe boots. Work just as well, if not better than expensive insoles at half the price. Hold up six months to a year. Zero complaints in the comfort department.
Comes in men’s sizing only. Must trim to fit. Not recommended for sports shoes or sneakers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Foot pain can get your attention like nothing else. If you don’t solve the problem quickly, it can literally stop you in your tracks. Sometimes, the culprit is simply a cheap pair of shoes. But when many pairs in your rotation are hurting your feet, it’s likely that something else is to blame.
A good pair of insoles can help eliminate foot pain. Insoles are shoe inserts made from memory foam, closed-cell foam, gel, or some combination of all three. Designed to solve a variety of problems (including flat feet and plantar fasciitis), they support and cushion your feet to redistribute weight and relieve pressure from painful areas.
To learn more, check out our shopping guide, which is full of tips and product recommendations to get you back on your feet in no time.
There are countless reasons you could be experiencing foot pain. It may simply be that the sole of your shoe is too thin and you need extra cushion. Or, if you’re standing all day at work, your stressed-out feet likely need insoles with additional cushion as well as extra support.
Supportive insoles can also help correct some of the following structural problems in your feet:
Flat feet, also known as fallen arches, is a condition in which the entire sole touches the ground when you are standing. Flat feet can develop during childhood, or your arches can fall during adulthood, due to aging, weight, or injury. Pain from flat feet usually shows up as pain in the heel or arch area or swelling on the inside, bottom portion of the foot.
Those with flat feet need insoles that protect the ball of the foot and cradle the heel to provide extra stability. They’ll also need support that contacts and lifts the entire arch into a natural position. A bit of padding isn’t a bad idea, but it isn’t the highest priority.
Plantar fasciitis usually rears its ugly head as heel pain that’s worse first thing in the morning. In this condition, the ligament connecting your toes and heel bone becomes inflamed.
Insoles that alleviate plantar fasciitis pain must fully support the arch to ease pressure on the heel. They’ll need substantial heel cups for the same reason. See our matrix recommending the best insoles for plantar fasciitis for more information.
Overpronation is when you turn your feet outward at the ankle and walk primarily on the insides of your feet. This strains the muscles and ligaments of the feet and can lead to heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and other joint alignment problems.
To learn whether you overpronate, check the bottoms of your shoes. If the bottoms are worn on the inside but not the outside, you probably overpronate. You need insoles with deep heel cups that keep the ankle from rolling over as well as a firm arch to keep proper shape and alignment.
High arches are a less common cause of foot pain. This structural problem places extra weight on the heel and ball of the foot, leading to pain over time. It also places extra tension on the arch, because it is stretching while not getting a lot of support. Other symptoms include unstable ankles, bunions, and loss of fat from the heel pad.
If you have high arches, look for insoles with pronounced arches to give your foot full support. Cushioning around the sole can also help relieve pain.
Some have arthritis in foot joints. Others have stressed arches, often caused by tight calf muscles. Those who suffer from diabetes may have painful neuropathy. In these cases, insoles help to shift weight distribution and ease pressure points on your foot. Even if you’re unsure of the cause of your pain, most find extra arch support is always helpful.
If your insoles are cracking, worn, or not as supportive as they once were, it’s time to replace them. Failing to do so can cause your symptoms to return or new injuries to occur.
Wondering if you chose the right insoles? Wait a couple weeks, then check the bottoms of your shoes. If they’re working, your shoes should show wear evenly instead of heavier wear on one side.
Many insoles are designed to be rigid and may not be appropriate for high impact. If you’re looking for insoles for athletic shoes, make sure the ones you choose are firm enough to support your feet, but flexible enough to absorb the shock from running. Insoles like these often feature gel padding in high-impact areas.
If your shoes aren’t the freshest-smelling items in your closet, chances are good that your insoles are at risk, too. If your feet tend to sweat, or you frequently wear shoes without socks, look for insoles with odor-reducing technology. This may include antimicrobial coatings as well as layers made with natural baking soda or charcoal.
Some manufacturers produce insoles in individual shoe sizes. Others make insoles that fit a range of two or three sizes and can be cut to fit your shoes. The more specific the size, the better the insole will work, as they are designed to hit your arch, heel, and other features at precise points.
Most insoles are designed to fit the whole shoe, but some come in three-quarters length. These shorter insoles tend to fit dress shoes, ballet flats, and dressy styles better than full-length varieties. Just be sure they make contact with all the parts of your feet that are causing you pain.
Stable and supportive
One of the few that successfully marries support and comfort, these insoles combine a supportive, high-profile structure with a cushy layer of high-density foam that maximizes comfort. Their wide, deep heel cup naturally absorbs shocks and can help those who suffer from plantar fasciitis. They come in a wide variety of sizes, but are not intended for jogging or other types of strenuous exercise.
Basic insoles address general foot pain and will cost between $10 and $15. At this price, insoles will be moderately supportive and, depending on your shoe size, may need to be cut down to fit your shoes. Many will be made of memory foam that feels comfortable at first but may wear down quickly.
Mid-level insoles are a little more specialized and cost between $20 and $30. In this price range, insoles should offer good arch support for uncomplicated foot problems. They often combine foam with gel padding for support and cushioning. Some will also inhibit moisture and odors.
High-end insoles will usually cost more than $30. Insoles of this quality should have enough support to help with more complicated foot issues. In fact, they may require some extra time to break them in. They may be made primarily of antimicrobial closed-cell foam, although insoles designed for athletics will often have gel or other padding.
Frugal, firm, and flexible
Up for almost any challenge, these insoles are loved for their versatility. They seem to relieve most types of foot pain and fit almost any kind of shoe you can imagine. They’re antimicrobial, come in many precise sizes, and need no cutting. However, they may not work for those who have extremely high or extremely low arches.
To test your arches, wet your feet and walk across a concrete sidewalk. If you see whole imprints of the bottom of your feet on the concrete, you probably have flat feet or fallen arches. If your arch imprint is missing or barely shows, you have high arches.
If you have diabetes, you are at high risk of developing corns, calluses, and other skin injuries of the foot, which can lead to diabetic wounds. When using insoles, be vigilant that they are not causing pressure injuries to the skin.
Some insoles contain latex, so check carefully if you have a latex allergy.
Ankle pain can be another clue that you may need insoles.
Designed for slim-fitting female shoes, the Powerstep SlenderFit Women’s High Heel Insole adds support to your favorite wedges, heels, and sandals. Like other Powerstep insoles, it gives you full arch support and a generous heel cup. But it also delivers extra padding under the ball of the foot, a common pressure point among women’s shoes. It can be challenging to find good insoles for athletic shoes, but Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Insoles are a winner for both men and women. Expertly combining support and cushioning, these lightweight insoles designed for action also provide terrific shock absorption and energy return.
Q. What’s the best way to put an insole in my shoe?
A. To get the best fit, you’ll probably need to remove the shoe’s existing insole and replace it with the one you purchased. If you buy an insole that requires trimming, trace the shoe’s original insole onto your replacement and cut it to size. Most supportive insoles should have enough substance not to slide, but if they are moving too much for you, you can permanently attach them to the shoe with an adhesive like cobbler’s cement. If you do this, remember, you won’t be able to move them to other shoes.
Q. Is there such a thing as too much arch support?
A. Increased arch support helps many foot problems, but the amount needed is subjective. Generally, flat feet need more rigid insoles, and high arches need more flexible insoles. But how much you need is an individual choice and may depend upon other factors. Don’t be afraid to order firm insoles, which will need time to be broken in. But after a reasonable period, if they still hurt your feet, ditch them. You ordered insoles to relieve pain, not to cause it. Insoles that are poorly matched for your feet can lead to additional foot, ankle, and joint problems.
Q. How many pairs of insoles should I buy?
A. It depends on how many shoes are giving you problems. If all your shoes hurt, several pairs of insoles may be worth the expense. But if it’s just one or two pairs, try one set of insoles at first. You can always switch them between the shoes, unless, of course, you glue them down. Even if you end up needing more, you’ll have a couple weeks to test whether the ones you selected will work for you in the long run.
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