Best Shoe Insoles Reviewed and Rated
Insoles are something not many people probably give much thought to. Pretty much all shoes have them, and unless you’ve had some foot issues (or are otherwise just ahead of the game) you’ve probably not used custom insoles, inserts or othotics.
But when you think about it these are one of the most critical aspects of any shoe. This is the surface that your foot rests on inside the shoe. Whether or not you’re comfortable and getting maximum performance out of your shoes is largely down to your insoles.
Insoles (also referred to as footbeds and inner soles or shoe inserts) were developed in the 1800s, and as the legend has it, innkeepers not shoemakers were the innovating force behind them. The reason for this was simple, a lot of tired travelers with sore feet would turn up at their inns complaining about their feet. The Innkeepers opportunistically came up with a solution (matted animal hair padding) and voila! They began selling insoles to travelers.
Insoles have come a long way from those times. Today manufacturers have leveraged technological advancements and have created some truly amazing aids for your feet. But with this proliferation in options comes the byproduct of uncertainty, and by this we mean its a lot easier to feel unsure when there are so many different options available.
Here is where we come in. We’ve created a comprehensive guide for the best shoe insoles and best shoe inserts. What you will find in the following is our best recommendations for insoles. These are broken down into specific subcategories such as usage or particular foot issues. Along with that you’ll find a lengthy FAQ section, discussion on the value of insoles, factors to consider before buying, how to size insoles properly and much, much more. This post is quite long so feel free to skip around to the sections that most pertain to you. Enjoy!
Are insoles really necessary?
There are a lot of different activities that we human do that really put our feet through a pounding. Whether it’s running, or going to the gym, or being on our feet for an 8 hour shift. When that stress isn’t properly absorbed it can cause serious pain in our ankles, knees and hips (any joint really). High quality insoles absorb this shock, evenly distribute weight, and ideally provide a bit of arch support. The short and simple answer is yes of course you need insoles. But the real question is do you need specialized, customized or aftermarket insoles?
There isn’t such a clear answer to this question. Some runners/walkers, after being labelled overpronators, low arched, flat footed, whatever the case may be, purchased recommended motion control insoles and saw their pains evaporate. This is encouraging, but let’s not forget for a number of other runners/walkers in similar situations who did not reap the same rewards. The truth is that the relationship between injuries and running biomechanics is an extremely complicated one. Simple A to B correlations cannot be drawn on a subject like insoles and injuries/pain.
One thing that does become clear however is that subject specificity is very important in these type of investigations. In other words, everyone’s experience is different. This leaves us answering the question are insoles really necessary in the following way: no they aren’t, however, they are a tool that should be investigated as they have been proven to be very effective for some people.
So with that on the table we’ll proceed to a few recommendations — more information to follow.
Best Shoe Insoles for Flat Feet
4. Powerstep Full Length Orthotic Shoe Insoles
- Proudly produced in the USA: Powerstep is committed to supporting US-made products.
- Semi-firm arch support, provides stability and support by working with the natural mechanics of your feet.
- Heel cradle: protects from harsh impacts and added cushion every step of the way
- Tri-level cushioning with built in VCT (Variable Cushioning Technology) targeted cushioning protects your feet during all forms of activity.
- No need to trim: powersteps are easily moveable from shoe to shoe, one pair is good for all your shoe.
- Known to run slightly on the wide side in terms of sizing, so plan accordingly based on your foot width.
- The full length insole can feel quite stiff in the beginning, give your feet a bit of time to adapt.
5. Dr. Scholl's DreamWalk High Heel Insoles
- DreamWalk insoles instantly transform the shoes you’d like to wear into comfortable ones that you want to wear.
- The only insoles that are ‘clinically proven” to help prevent foot pain when worn on heels 2” or higher -- (in comparison to other leading brands).
- Ultra-thin design won't make shoes feel too tight or cramped.
- Gel arch shifts pressure off ball of foot, fit feels ultra-soft.
- Each package has one pair of insoles, women's shoe sizes 6-10.
- Dr. Scholl’s is a known and respected brand.
- Sizing can be an issue here, there is no avoiding that. With high heels the margin for error is small. Don’t settle for an almost fit.
- Some users reported the desire for more cushioning, and were discontent with the lack of cushion.
- May or may not be translucent as pictured, something to consider if you’re worried about the aesthetics of your shoes.
6. HappyFeet Gel Heel Cups
- Unique design, cupped heel construction locks the heel in place and helps support arch. This can help relieve plantar fasciitis pain.
- Undeniably comfortable, cool gel technology helps keep feet cool and content all day long.
- A Great pair of shocks to add to your shoes,: Massages your heel and provides superior shock absorption performance.
- Very lightweight and not bulky, these heel cups fit into any shoe and bring stability and added comfort with them.
- The makers have a very consumer friendly return policy, love them or return them - no questions asked. Simple as that!
- Not the most adhesive inserts, have been known to move around a little bit, especially when they are not properly fitted.
- Some users reported a noise that accompanies each step while wear the insoles, this appears isolated, but something to know.
- Not full length, limited utility beyond address issues relating to heel pain and stability.
7. Dr. Scholl's P.R.O. Pain Relief Orthotics for Heel
- Clinically proven to relieve heel pain** (NicerShoes has not verified the authenticity of this claim).
- User reviews seem to indicate a high degree of success relieving issues such as plantar fasciitis and heel spurs.
- By cupping the heel and providing more cushion these inserts treat pain at its root, as oppose to trying to mask symptoms.
- With added protection for your heel the impact your body takes on is reduced with every step you take.
- Works with the bodies natural design, does not supercede it.
- Great for long shifts in all types of conditions.
- Tapered design won't crowd toes, or create other unwanted side effects.
- Not full length inserts, so to a degree their function is limited -- will not provide support to your forefoot or toes.
- Some users noted that these insoles took up too much space in their shoes thus crowding their feet.
- This particular product for men, a quick search should find you the female equivelant quickly and easily.
- As alluded to above, very slim -- even designed to work over non removable insoles.
- Highly supportive, add more structure to your shoes with flat midsoles, and they do this without aggravating low arches.
- Also has a heel cup, which corrects for pronation, and keeps you walking steady. stress.
- Footbed itself is cushioned with a nice layer of foam. Between the supportive molding and full-length cushion, there is a lot to like here.
- Anecdotally seem to have worked very well for plantar fasciitis and arch pain.
- The material used for the inserts negates odor.
- All black promotes an elegant sense of style for the wearer.
- There’s a break-in period, common for all insoles but something to consider nonetheless.
- The low profile nature of the insert means less padding than some other options.
- Sizing is quite touchy with the SuperFeet, be careful about measuring your shoes according to their online size guide. You want to be very specific about this and not simply go off of what's on the tongue.
9. Profoot Flat Fix Orthotic
- Designed and engineered specifically with flat feet and low arches in mind, user reviews indicate a large number of people have had success with them.
- Keeping your foot in proper alignment can provide relief of knee, leg and back pain.
- Extremely affordable alternative to custom orthotics, if you doctor or or physical therapist recommends otherwise press them on it, and consider all options.
- 3/4 length fits nicely, cups heal in a firm yet non restrictive way.
- The manufacturer has a generous money back guarantee, this allows you to buy with zero risk or regret.
- Not gender neutral, these inserts are designed for a man's foot.
- Sizing, shoes can be tough, sizing orthotics toughers still, if you don’t get this right you can experience any range of issues with these insoles.
- With a cheaper price comes a shorter lifespan, don’t expect to get years and years of use out of these inserts.
10. Powerstep ProTech Full Length
- Sizes for both men and women. They’re almost universal, which makes them an easy choice for all types of footwear.
- Known to last for years, even under relatively heavy use -- complaints about durability were few and far between.
- Exterior cushioning is made from a tough anti-microbial fabric. Fights odor.
- Two layers of foam cushioning creates a medically-sculpted footbed. This provides arch support, and is meant to correct for under/over pronation.
- Unanimously positive reviews, many users mention recommendations from MDs or Podiatrists.
- Proudly made in the USA.
- They’re a bit thicker than some other inserts. If you cannot remove prior insoles this can present a problem and depending on how your shoes are sized bring up other issues.
- Given their strong track record with flat feet their focus is on structure not padding, may be disappointing for some.
- Can feel quite stiff in the beginning and certainly take some time to break in, we’d recommend giving them a few weeks minimum before making a judgement.
Best Shoe Insoles FAQ’S
Q. Do insoles contain latex?
A. Many don’t but there are definitely some who do, so if a latex allergy is something you struggle with be sure to check before making a regrettable order.
Q. What are insoles generally made up of?
A. The answer is a variety of different materials, all utilized in different ways. The most common are Polyurethane, Foam, synthetic gel, and blown rubber to name a few. Often times insoles are made in with closed cell structure making them completely waterproof and disallowing bacteria or germs to enter.
Q.How do I care for my insoles?
A. simple spot clean with some type of mild soap will go a long way. Do not immerse completely in water if you can avoid it, this can affect the integrity of the insole. Air dry (do not heat) and make sure the detergent has dried before replacing in shoe.
Q. How long do insoles typically last?
A. There’s no one right answer to this question. A huge range of environmental variables play a role here, along with how usage frequency and for what purposes you use them. A ballpark estimate is you can probably expect 6 months to a year of moderate use. But if the insole appears physically worn or you notice a diminishment in its performance it is probably in need of being replaced.
Q. What is the difference between a insert, an insole or an orthotic?
A. A common point of confusion, the first distinction is quite easy. Insole and inserts are synonyms of each other. Insoles are generally thought of as over the counter, easy to locate, shorter-lasting aids for your feet. Whereas orthotics are more commonly thought of as prescribed (or designed) by a medical provider, long-lasting, custom made, and usually found in specialty stores/ordered. The truth is, this line is often blurred.
And now a few more recommendations. Here are the….
Best Full Coverage Insoles (or orthotics)
- Synthetic carefully crafted manmade sole.
- High-arched insole, provides maximum support for the wearer.
- Fits most roomy footwear styles, best with shoes whose factory insoles can be removed.
- High degree of versatility, good for common foot pain, arch pain, heel pain & plantar fasciitis.
- NXT antibacterial coating provides an all natural odor defense.
- Contains no latex and is 100% vegan.
- Durable construction wear down slowly while providing a lot of support and comfort.
- Not ideally suited for people with quite small or narrow feet.
- No insole is perfect and for all the raves reviews there are a few folks who complain of over stiffness or an exacerbation of foot pain.
2. New Balance Insoles IUSA3810 Supportive Cushioning Insole
These inserts have separate cushions for the heel and forefoot for maximum comfort and stability. Particularly these are said to be indicated for plantar fasciitis, Morton's neuroma and metatarsalgia. Give them a try today and see the difference.
- Patented New Balance Abzorb® cushioning is strategically placed as a shock absorber in the forefoot and heel.
- Anti-blister/anti-microbial cover keeps the feet dry and smelling nice (okay maybe not nice, but not bad!).
- Designed to fit most athletic, casual, and hiking shoes where insoles can be replaced.
- In some cases have been shown to help prevent and provide relief from the pain that Plantar Fasciitis comes with.
- Rigid molded arch support, highly supportive.
- Highly durable, comes with New Balance’s satisfaction guarantee.
- These inserts are pretty thick so consider this in terms of your footwear and foot ergonomics.
- The arch support can be a bit aggressive with the New Balance model, if your feet are extra sensitive you may want to look elsewhere.
1. RunPro Insoles - Low Arch Profile
- A useful aid to reduce fatigue, boost performance and ward off injuries.
- RunPro insoles are there to bridge the gap between the foot's profile & shoe to create a surface for optimal force transfer.
- Designed to keep your foot in its most biomechanical optimal position, without creating any additional irritation or drag.
- Goes a long way toward reducing the stress applied to joints,ligaments & tendons.
- Slim body is designed to be easily added to each running /walking shoe.
- Given that these are built for a certain type of activity, they may be ideal for every person, i.e. someone who just wants a bit of cushion for walking or standing.
- There have been some issues reported with RunPro’s sizing chart.
- Similar to many other of the insoles listed here, these are going to take some breaking in, no really a con per se but just something to know.
We are not medical professionals and don’t pretend to be. Doctors orders should be deferred to, although never forget your own common sense. But with that caveat in place we’d say this: Insoles were created and continue to be produced for a reason. That reason is that they really help some people with medical issues and for other people they simply add to the comfort of their feet. Day-in day-out insoles have proven themselves to be useful.
Everyone’s bio mechanics are a little different, no two strides are the same, and so there simply isn’t a concise answer to the question of whether insoles are right for you. We would however say there is little harm in giving them a shot. Most of these manufacturers have money back guarantees, so there is little risk in trialing them.
Ideally they work fantastically and your daily jog or 8 hour shift goes by in maximum foot comfort. Worst case they don’t help and make your feet a bit sore, at least you tried.
We hope that this best shoe insoles guide has been a helpful informational tool when it comes to insoles. Ultimately it all comes down to your own needs, circumstances, and budget. Below are some links to sizing charts of some of the biggest insole manufacturers. Here’s to comfortable feet!
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