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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Shopping guide for best plantar fasciitis inserts

Last Updated April 2019

Plantar fasciitis is a common source of heel pain. It’s indiscriminate: millions of people, from active runners to overweight individuals, suffer from this painful inflammation. Both obesity and being very active put you at risk for inflammation of the plantar fascia. Unsupportive shoes can be a contributing factor.

Plantar fasciitis pain occurs when the ligament running across the bottom of your foot becomes inflamed. This ligament connects your toes to your heel bone, which is where the pain is worst.

Flare-ups usually last from two to six weeks, so you’ll want to do your best to prevent them. And it’s worth the effort. Experts say up to 90% of plantar fasciitis cases can heal within six months with stretching, icing of the foot, and proper inserts. Which plantar fasciitis inserts are best for you? BestReviews can help you figure that out.

Roughly 10% of the adult population will suffer from plantar fasciitis at some time during their life.

Key considerations

Technically, anything you put in your shoe can be called an insert. Some inserts are designed to help with plantar fasciitis; others address problems that aren’t unique to plantar fasciitis. Understanding terminology can help you make better choices.

  • Inserts and insoles: These two terms can be used interchangeably to describe full-length pads. “Insert” usually implies a focus on support, while “insole” implies more cushioning. Both, however, are used to address plantar fasciitis.

  • Arch supports: These are shorter than insoles and support the arch of your foot. They can be shaped to fit both high and low arches. Lack of arch support contributes to plantar fasciitis, but arch supports alone will not heal plantar fasciitis.

  • Heel pads: Also called heel liners or heel cups, these give the wearer extra cushioning in the heel. They’re best for individuals who have heel pain caused by aging and thinning heel fat pads. Heel pain is a symptom of plantar fasciitis, but heel pads alone won’t relieve plantar fasciitis.

  • Orthotics: These are rigid, full-length inserts that address specific foot positioning or structural problems. Some are designed to combat plantar fasciitis. Over-the-counter orthotics help some, and they are cheaper than custom orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist and crafted for your specific foot.


Speaking of doctors, if you have diabetes or other circulation problems, you should see a doctor before purchasing inserts. Ill-fitting inserts can put diabetics at risk for foot infections and ulcers, so recommendations from your doctor are important to your health.

DID YOU KNOW?

Individuals between the ages of 40 and 60 are most likely to suffer from plantar fasciitis. Adults typically start losing flexibility in their foot tissue around age 40.

Features

Now that you understand the terminology, it’s time to talk about insert features that can support your routine and activity level.

Support
Inserts must provide good arch support to prevent additional injury to the inflamed ligament. They must make complete, firm contact with your foot’s arch to relieve pressure on the heel. Not all feet or inserts are the same, though.

Customers with high arches should look for inserts with similarly high arches to ensure the constant, firm contact the feet need. In contrast, feet that are flat and rigid — meaning they are flat with or without weight applied — need arch support that’s fully rigid. On the other hand, flexible flat feet — those that are only flat when weight is applied — need inserts with cushioned arch support.

Plantar fasciitis sufferers who spend a lot of time on their feet need support in the metatarsal arch as well. This is a smaller, east-west arch near the spot where your toes stick out from your feet. Lack of metatarsal support causes the balls of your feet to hurt.
 

Heel Cup
Heel pads alone won’t cure plantar fasciitis, but good plantar fasciitis inserts should have deep heel cups. They take pressure off your heels and absorb shock so your inflamed ligaments can heal. Well-formed heel cups stabilize your feet and align them with your ankles, knees, and hips, which helps to reverse plantar fasciitis and prevent future flare-ups.  

Cushioning
Inserts for plantar fasciitis aren’t pillowy like many comfort insoles are. Still, some padding is good. Cushioning not only prevents further inflammation, it helps improve foot stability and joint alignment. Look for inserts with moderate cushioning, especially if your daily routine involves significant time standing or walking on hard surfaces.

Other options
When shopping, also consider these options: 

  • Runners and individuals who often wear their shoes without socks should look for anti-odor, antimicrobial inserts.

  • Shock-absorbing inserts can prevent further inflammation during high-impact activities.

  • If you know you tend to pronate or supinate your feet, look for inserts that address these issues. The right tilt can help, and the wrong one can stress joints that weren’t part of your original problem.  

  • Inserts that are three-quarters length may fit better than full-size models in slim-fitting shoes.

DID YOU KNOW?

Being overweight contributes to about 70% of plantar fasciitis flare-ups.

Plantar fasciitis insert prices

Most good plantar fasciitis inserts aren’t cheap, but they’re less expensive than replacing all your shoes or paying for more doctor’s visits.

The least-expensive plantar fasciitis inserts may cost $10 to $20. These inserts will work for some, but they may not help more advanced cases or people with high arches. They’re generally made to fit a large size range rather than individual sizes. They may not be particularly stiff, which is a plus for some but a negative for others.

Mid-grade plantar fasciitis inserts typically run $20 to $40. In this price range, inserts are usually made for a smaller size range, so you may get a better fit. They may be more supportive than they are cushioned; some will appreciate this and some won’t.

High-quality plantar fasciitis inserts may cost more than $40. Sometimes, they cost as much as $100. In this price range, inserts should have multiple material layers to address more complex foot problems. They’ll come in more precise sizes and have contours that keep your foot and corresponding joints stable. They will help you feel comfortable during a flare-up and also help resolve the flare-up.

DID YOU KNOW?

Anyone can suffer from plantar fasciitis, but teachers, nurses, factory workers, custodians, restaurant servers, law enforcement officers, and others who spend significant time standing or walking on hard surfaces are especially vulnerable.

Tips

  • If you suffer from heel pain even when using inserts, try adding a gel cushion below the heel. It can help absorb shock and ease pressure on heel spurs, which sometimes develop along with plantar fasciitis inflammation.

  • Repetitive motions that put significant pressure on the heel can promote plantar fasciitis. Activities involving ballistic jumping, distance running, ballet, and aerobics can play a role. These activities should be avoided while the body heals.

  • Know your feet. Some inserts work better for flat feet. Some fit feet with high arches. Others help correct pronation problems. Understanding your specific challenges before you buy can help you avoid disappointment and additional pain.

Other products we considered

The makers of some of the best shoes for plantar fasciitis also make shoe inserts. Vionic’s full-length active orthotics come in both men’s and women’s sizes. Vionic offers several inserts, but these are best for casual shoes, tennis shoes, and anything you’d use for fast-moving, high-impact sports. They’re known for quality, and the higher price reflects that.

At the other end of the price spectrum, the inexpensive Heel Pain & Plantar Fasciitis inserts from PROFOOT are specifically designed to cradle the heel while supporting the arch. Many swear by them, especially on a budget, but buyers should note that they tend to run small.

Plantar fasciitis pain is usually at its worst first thing in the morning.

FAQ

Q. Is plantar fasciitis something that will go away over time?
A.
Sometimes, yes. Often, no. Plantar fasciitis occurs when repeated stress and tension causes small tears and inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament. Our feet bear the brunt of our weight and the impact of our movement, so the tears and inflammation don’t easily heal without intervention or ceasing from activity. Interventions can involve wearing inserts, stretching your feet, easing inflammation with ice, or a combined approach. The good news is, the majority of plantar fasciitis flare-ups resolve with a few months of using these interventions. But ignoring it can lead to chronic heel pain that interferes with your activities for a longer period. And changing how you walk isn’t a good solution, as it can create problems with knees, ankles, and other related joints. Plantar fasciitis is best to address early-on, head-on.

Q. Do I need to buy more than one pair of inserts?
A.
It depends. If you spend most of your day in athletic shoes, start with a pair designed for high-impact use. If you spend much of your day in an office atmosphere, shock-absorbing inserts may not fit professional shoes very well, so you may need a second style. Transferring from shoe to shoe is inconvenient and can cause quicker breakdown of your shoe or insert. It’s best to buy one pair at first, so you can find a brand and style that meets your specific needs. Once you know what works, you can make better decisions about what you really need.

Q. My inserts feel too high in the arch. Should I send them back?
A.
Most inserts will feel too high at first. This is because your foot has not been getting adequate support, which helped cause the problem in the first place. Give your feet some time to adjust. If the inserts do not start providing some relief in a week or two, it may be time to try a different pair.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Jennifer
    Jennifer
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Kristin
    Kristin
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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