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The human body is made to move. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic, it’s essential to our health, longevity and even survival. But moving doesn’t sound so great if you are wearing uncomfortable shoes. If you find yourself unmotivated or uncomfortable to go for a walk, run or hike, you could probably use a pair of shoe inserts. Or, if you’re constantly on your feet and experience foot fatigue quickly, shoe insoles will be a total game-changer. And it goes beyond just solving foot pain. When your feet hurt, your mood suffers, too.
Insoles can drastically boost the comfort of your shoes, ultimately changing your mindset about on-your-feet exercise and the general quality of life. They offer extra cushioning and support, and they come in a variety of specific styles made for different arch types and foot issues.
Minnesota-based podiatrist Dr. Paul Langer, DPM says, “A common misconception is that many people assume that if they purchase a ‘supportive shoe’ or a shoe with ‘arch support,’ then there is no benefit to adding an insole. Insoles can actually improve shoe comfort and help address foot pain when a supportive shoe is not adequate.”
How To Find The Best Shoe Inserts
NYC-based podiatrist and spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association Dr. Jacqueline Sutera says that when shopping for shoe inserts, consumers should keep in mind there is a huge variety of insoles on the market. Meaning, there is no one size fits all.
“You should start by fitting the insole for your foot type (flat feet versus high arches). You’ll also need to consider the type of shoe you will be putting the insole in and the type of activity you will be using the insole for,” she explains.
You also want to ask yourself what type of issues you are experiencing and what type of feet you have. For example, gel insoles offer great impact absorption for tired soles, while models with deep heel cups and extra heel padding can help relieve pain associated with plantar fasciitis. There are also general supportive insoles for flat feet, arched feet and neutral feet.
It’s important to note, if you experience more extreme and chronic pain or aches, custom orthotics will be the best option. Remember to consult with a doctor to make sure you’re getting the proper treatment.
With that said, there are plenty of over-the-counter options that may work for you if you require a lower level of support. Whether you have pain from the start or have low stamina on your feet, something as simple as a pair of insoles can fix that.
Considering all this, we hit the market to round up the best insoles you can buy now, according to podiatrists and enthusiastic customer reviews. Slide one of these options inside your go-to sneakers or dress shoes, and watch how walking and running suddenly go from dreaded chores to something to get excited about.
Vionic Active Insole
Best Insoles for Neutral Arch Support
Dr. Sutera explains that a cushioned insole helps to “neutralize the foot as you step down” and provide shock absorption to alleviate and prevent foot pain. The Vionic Active Insole is a top contender in the neutral to high arch category in general, but it’s even more tailored towards runners and power walkers because it’s designed to withstand consistent downward pressure.
The orthotic cushion provides greater control for fast-paced activities while the rear foot wedge prevents excess pronation. Plus, the contoured arch around the heel promotes full-foot contact for optimal support. These insoles can be trimmed for a more custom fit and have an antibacterial, odor-absorbing cover to stay fresher longer even after a long run.
Superfeet Unisex Green Premium Insoles
Best Insoles for High Arches
People with higher arches require a more flexible and responsive type of shoe insert. This unisex option is a great choice. Superfeet’s Green shoe insert features deep heel cups with a soft, bouncy, flexible foam that lessens the impact of each stride while simultaneously supporting the foot’s natural arch. The result is reduced stress on the feet ankles and knees. This pair has over 3,000 near-perfect reviews on Amazon. One reviewer dubs it a “necessity if you have high arches.”
Spenco Polysorb Heavy Duty Work Insole
Best Insoles for Standing All Day
When you’re on your feet all day, foot pain and fatigue seem inevitable. While it’s totally common to experience this in retail jobs, food service and construction work to name a few, insoles can help combat this pain and help you last longer on your feet without the feeling of needing to sit down. But when shopping for the right one, you’ll want to go for something more heavy-duty that can handle long hours of use. Enter: Spenco’s Polysorb Heavy Duty Work Insoles.
They have a 4mm heel-to-toe top layer that enhances the shock absorption and impact while remaining extremely lightweight. They support a neutral arch and are made with a patented, durable material designed to last and provide support stride after stride.
Scholl’s Massaging Gel Advanced Insoles
Best Gel Insoles
The good old fashion Dr. Scholl’s Gel inserts remain a consumer favorite, with almost 11,000 near-perfect ratings on Amazon. Sure, they’re probably the best cheap shoe insert on the market, but they also work wonders in combating muscle and joint fatigue in the feet and legs. They should fit most casual shoes, sneakers and work boots, using gel technology to massage the feet all day long. This responsive wave cushioning has arch and heel support to keep you feeling energized and moving, no matter what type of foot you have.
Spenco Cross Trainers
Best Insoles for Flat Feet
Dr. Sutera recommends the Spenco Cross Trainers as the best insoles for people with flat feet because they offer enhanced stability. “Flat-footed people tend to have overpronation (meaning your foot rolls inward when you move), and these insoles help control that,” she says. The arch is soft and low, making them a good option for people with both flat feet to neutral arches. The forefoot pad in these can also help prolong the life of a shoe.
Powerstep Pinnacle Arch Support
Best Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is a common aliment for people that are constantly on their feet. It’s when the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot becomes inflamed and causes pain in the heel. In more severe cases, podiatrists recommend a custom orthotic, but a great accessible over-the-counter option is Powerstep’s Pinnacle Arch Support insoles. According to their nearly 10,000 four- and five-star reviews on Amazon, they help alleviate symptoms of plantar fasciitis for everyday use. They have a special arch shape and heel cradle that soothes and supports the foot. One reviewer that developed plantar fasciitis said, “These keep the foot properly aligned and have a good amount of cushioning. I can stand on tile for eight hours with no fatigue with these. I even power walked eight miles in one day with zero knee, back or foot pain.”
Brison Ball of Foot Cushions
Best Insoles for Heels
While heels can be some of the most pain-inducing shoes to wear, they’re not always roomy enough to comfortably accommodate a full-length insole. In this case, go for Brison’s Ball of Foot cushions. They help delay foot pain by adding a cushion at the forefoot, where downward pressure is most concentrated when you wear lofty styles. And, by helping stabilize the foot and prevent digits from sliding forward into the toe box, these cushions can prevent numb toes and even bunions.
Superfeet Run Comfort Plum
Best Insoles for Running
These Superfeet insoles are specifically designed for a woman’s foot, featuring a shorter heel and slimmer arch length. They also include a deep heel cup which cradles the heel for a natural cushion and responsive shock absorption, offering an energetic stride every time. Podiatrists say they are the best memory foam insoles for running because they are durable and lightweight with the support you need for proper foot alignment. The brand promises you’ll get consistent comfort for 12 months or 500 miles – whichever comes first. For women with wider feet, or guys looking for with the same technology, check out Superfeet’s Run Comfort Carbon Fiber.
Vionic Full-Length Insole
Best Insoles for Back Pain
Vionic’s Full-Length insoles offer a medium density for neutral feet. And since they include a deep heel cup that stations feet in place, they can be great for people who experience back pain, which is commonly associated with improper lower limb alignment. They also offer heel and forefoot cushioning for increased shock absorption and energy return.