Best High Heel Inserts Reviewed & Tested for Comfort
If you’ve ever worn a pair of high heels you know that they’re not exactly the most comfortable footwear, especially if you plan on wearing them for more than a couple of hours. Whether you need to be in them every day for your office job, or are planning a wild night on the town that includes lots of dancing, you need to be thinking about staying comfortable and safe. Luckily, bunions, blisters, sore arches and rubbed heels are a thing of the past as high heel inserts have become more and more available in today’s market. These nifty little things can save you a lot of pain, and can get you a far way for relatively little money.
Wearing high heels will put extra pressure on your knees and balls of your feet, which means that your posture will be affected. Depending on heel height, pressure on the ball of the foot can increase up to 70%, so it is imperative that you don’t allow any additional issues to come up. Luckily, there is a wide variety of high heel inserts that are available, made out of various materials, in different colors and patterns. All you have to do is determine which part of your feet need special attention and you are bound to find products that will help you get rid of the pain.
10 Best High Heel Inserts
1. Powerstep Pinnacle
If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain, arch pain or other problems, these insoles can help you out. In addition to their semi-rigid arch support, they also feature a heel cradle which increases stability and support in your shoes.
Moveable from Shoe to Shoe
You can make the Powerstep Pinnacle Shoe Insoles your daily go-to source of relief as they can easily be moved to any of your shoes. No trimming required, just make sure to choose the size that you need, and you’ll be ready to put them to work.
Cost and Value
These insoles come at a steep price and are the most expensive item on this list. So, if you’re not ready to cash out, you should pass them by. However, a good insole is worth investing in, especially if you suffer from daily pain and discomfort. Plus, you will only need one pair as these can go in almost all of your shoes - flats, sneakers, boots and high heels alike.
- Excellent arch support
- Excellent heel cradle
- Come in pink as well
- Antimicrobial top fabric
- Heat and friction reducing
- Not suitable for sandals and open shoes
- Can only be spot cleaned
2. Dr. Scholl's Moleskin Plus
The moleskin can be used in many different ways. Some people like to go with the traditional stick-to-troubling-area approach, while others will put this directly in their shoes to line places that are causing pain. In order to find out which of these ways works for you best, we recommend testing the product in a few ways until you have found the best possible way.
Easy to Cut and Apply
This is not a product that requires a lot of work. All you have to do is determine the size and shape of padding you need, and go at it with a pair of scissors. The backing will come off easily, so you can just stick it on and are ready to go.
Cost and Value
This product is the cheapest on this list, so you can just try it out and see whether it works for you. The time one roll will last you depends on how many spots you want to cover, so if you need a lot of protection, it may not last long. However, it’s a great product that can be combined with any other inserts, and we can wholeheartedly recommend keeping some of it with you at all times. It will definitely come in handy at some point.
- Is thin and won’t create bulk
- Can be cut to any size
- Extremely versatile
- Comes at a great price
- Heavy Sweat = Peeling
3. HappyStep Shoe Insoles
These insoles have a lot of fans. First of all, they are made out of a high-quality memory foam which can take a beating - some users have reported having used them to take over one million steps. That’s almost 500 miles!
The good thing about these insoles is that you have a choice of three sizes, and are then expected to cut them according to what you need. All you have to do is take out the existing insoles of your shoes, trace the insoles by lining up the heels, then cut. Note that you should ditch your old insoles, as these are meant to be worn on their own.
Cost and Value
For full-length insoles made out of memory foam, these come at a pretty reasonable price. However, doctors do recommend changing your insoles every three months, so make sure you track their wear and replace them when needed. Otherwise, you lose all the benefits.
- Memory foam
- Pain Reducing Heel Cup
- Reasonably priced
- Quite Durable
- Good for plantar fasciitis
- Add heat
4. Foot Petals
Foot Petals use a material that provides great cushioning and superior shock absorption that will not go flat with use. This means that you get a pair of these for your shoes, and they’re there to stay.
Only You Will Know They’re There
These little things are a godsend for summer shoes. They are small enough so as to easily fit into any shoe, and won’t be seen by anyone unless they can take a look inside your shoes. Even more, you can choose from a variety of colors and prints to achieve maximum covertness.
Cost and Value
Depending on the design and pack you choose, the price of these can vary greatly. What is great are the assortment packages that will include three pairs of petals, with which you will get more out of your money. Otherwise, these are great as they don’t deteriorate and can stay on for a long time. Just be aware that they will not perform miracles and make a pair of extremely uncomfortable shoes feel like walking on clouds.
- Very strong adhesive
- Can be used in flats and heels
- Almost invisible
- Variety in Color and Design
- Will prevent toe overhang
- Provide cushioning and shock absorption
- Are not reusable
5. Kefee 8 Piece
These cushions are made of silica gel that provides high elasticity and flexibility and will cushion every step you take. The velvety upper is sweat-absorbing and skin-friendly, so you will feel comfortable using these both on bare feet as well as with hosiery.
One Size Fits Most
These inserts will fit most sizes as they do not add too much bulk to your shoes. However, you need to keep in mind that if your shoes are already tight, these will make them feel even smaller.
Cost and Value
This assortment of inserts is a bargain as it will provide you with different solutions at an affordable price. Seeing that the cushions are reusable, you will be able to take full advantage of them in all of your shoes, from high heels to flats, and even in sneakers.
- Washable and reusable
- Various inserts in one pack
- Good cushioning
- Will prevent blisters, calluses, and metatarsal pain
- No Slip
- Won’t work with tight shoes
- Difficult Placement
6. Skyfoot Ball of Foot Cushions
These cushions include small massage particles that will be helpful if you often have burning sensations in the ball of your foot. In addition, they have a unique feature which is a small cushion in the middle of the forefoot which provides extra comfort and can prevent your feet from sliding forward in your shoes.
Extremely Easy to Clean
The fact that these are made out of gel material means that you can just put them in water and wash as often as you wish. And you won’t need any extra drying time. Just stick them in your preferred pair of high heels and you’re good to go.
Cost and Value
Considering the time these will last you, they come at a great price. If you take into consideration the 12-month warranty as well, their price seems even smaller than it already is. Due to being washable and reusable, these are truly a great investment.
- Soft and durable medical grade gel
- 12 months warranty
- Washable and reusable
- Come at a great price
- Include foot massaging particles
- May make your feet sweat
- May not stick well to fabrics or velvety materials
7. Helloheel Contour Slim
These straps are made out of latex foam which is lined with a soft suede finish giving you a spongy comfortable feel. They will reduce friction from your shoe straps, and can provide blisters from forming in tight spots.
Good for the Environment
The Helloheel grips are made out of 100% biodegradable latex which is organic and is made through an environmentally conscious and sustainable manufacturing process. This means that your comfort will not come at a high global cost.
Cost and Value
The grips come at an excellent price and are the second cheapest item on this list. Though they are advertised as inserts for sandals and strappy shoes, you can easily use them on any other pair of footwear you need some extra protection in. The pack of four can be used on numerous pairs of shoes depending on the amount of cushioning you wish to achieve.
- Organic, biodegradable rubber
- Variety in use
- Allow a fully customized fit
- Invisible small sizing
- Low price for a pack of four
- Adhesive durability
8. Ballotte Ball of Foot Cushions
The medical grade materials the inserts are constructed with give optimum shock absorption. This is great for heel wearers that suffer from metatarsalgia (inflammation in the ball of the feet) and will help with the pounding your feet take from walking everyday in heels. No matter what foot pain condition you suffer from, you’ll be asking “what pain?” when wearing these inserts.
Some inserts can make heel wearing a miserable experience by not staying in place. These inserts are self-adhesive, making them not only stay in place but easy to apply (just peel and stick). This will also help keep your feet from sliding forward in your shoes even when sweaty. Don’t let a lack of grip to cause even more foot problems.
Cost and Value
You’ll receive two pairs of insert per pack and you have a choice of either nude colored or clear for your inserts. There is also a third purchasing option that gives you three pairs (2 pair’s nude, 1 pair clear). Therefore, you can have plenty of inserts to switch out or use in other shoes without having to purchase extra.
- Extra soft cushioning
- Proper shoe fit
- Large, full coverage size
- Easy to wipe clean
- Slippage after 8+ hours of wear
- Reported scrunching
9. Heel Pads Inserts
The heel pads come in three shapes: T-shaped, U-shaped, and forefoot shaped. T-shaped covers the Achilles and heel. U-shaped only coves the Achilles and forefoot is for the ball of the feel. You’ll never be limited in foot protection and comfort.
One Size For All
Sometimes choosing an insert that fits can be a problem. Some are too small and others are too large. These inserts fit virtually all foot and shoe types while providing an even coverage and balanced comfort. Never do you have to search for the perfect fit ever again.
Cost and Value
A lot of heel inserts are uniform: same shape, function, and usage while costing more than what is necessary. With these inserts, you receive four pairs of inserts that give variety in caring for your feet and can be used for more than one pair of shoes. These extra inserts come at no extra costs.
- Unique, functional shapes
- Translucent, blended color
- All kinds of shoes
- Better fit for looser shoes
10. NatraCure Gel
This gadget is made out of a type of gel which releases medical-grade mineral oil, Vitamin E, and Aloe Vera, all of which are a great way to nourish, moisturize and protect your skin from rough shoe materials.
While this particular guard is made for bunions, you can also choose to get the type which was made to protect your pinky toe from rubbing against tight shoes. This is great for those who have wide feet or soft and sensitive skin.
Cost and Value
Though the cost of this item is about average, note that it will only be good for one foot. If you want to use them in both shoes, you will need to get two pieces which will bring the cost of it up by 100%.
- Promotes healthy toe alignment
- Soft gel
- Eases friction and pressure on bunion
- Diabetic friendly
- Will make your shoes tighter
- One piece per pack
There you have it, an exhaustive list of the best of the best high heel inserts that can be purchased. If you, like almost everyone else on the planet, have ever felt discomfort while wearing high heels, but still need to wear them, make sure that you are doing the most you can to protect your feet and spine.
Although doctors do not recommend wearing heels for more than two days in a row, with one day for rest in between, we understand that your job or preferences cannot allow this. Opt for the optimal heel insert to provide grip, cushioning or overall comfort for the whole length of your shoe, or go with one of the products that can be applied directly to your feet to prevent skin rubbing or to and joint pain. Consider the fact that your feet are the foundation of your spine and taking good care of them now will inevitably pay off in the future.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best High Heel Inserts
The impact of high heels on your body goes further than just your feet. When you look at the human body, you will notice that everything is centered and balanced, head to toe, in order to achieve maximum stability. All muscles, tendons, and joints are connected in a way that is to promote this center of balance that lies solely on one’s feet. However, when you put on high heels, you shift this center of balance to the front of the foot which means that the rest of the body has to adjust as well. In order to achieve an alignment that allows you to stand and walk, everything shifts – the Achilles tendon shortens and stiffens as it has to work overtime, the knees move forward which adds extra stress, the hips do the same thing while your back hyperextends and creates a completely different line than the straight spine which is healthy and desirable. All of this can lead to a series of problems in all parts of the body, including pain and deformations in the feet, arthritis in the knees and back, hip and joint pain, as well as shortened tendons and muscles which have had to overcompensate for a shift in balance.
But the fact is, high heels not only look phenomenal, but they also have strong psychological impacts on those wearing them – from the added confidence due to aesthetically pleasing improvements on the line of the leg and posture, to the boost they provide in adding height, something which allows women to feel more confident in the workplace and in their private lives. In addition, several workplaces require this type of footwear, which means that high heels aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. This means that although they cannot be replaced, there are a lot of things that can be done in order to lessen their impact on the body. The inserts which have been chosen in this article all serve to provide much-needed comfort and protection, and represent products which have been chosen based on several different criterions.
Targeted Foot Problems
The consequences of wearing high heels for prolonged periods of time include joint disease, hammertoe deformities, calluses, bunions, ingrown toenails, neuroma and many more. In addition, there are the added effects that can result from an ill-fitting shoe, such as blisters and corns which can easily be fixed, ensuring a good fit and by preventing your feet from sliding forward in the shoes. Different products will address different symptoms so you can choose one or more of them in order to relieve some of the pain you may be feeling.
Always make sure to use tape or grips to address parts of the shoe that are giving you trouble in a particular spot. These products are made to relieve the effects of skin rubbing or being squeezed by hard shoe materials and stitching and can be used with new shoes, or every day according to need. They represent fairly simple solutions that are affordable ways of preventing issues which can take even months to heal. By taping the parts of your feet that are in discomfort you can avoid calluses and corns which can be just as troubling as blisters or raw and broken skin.
Pads and cushions are great for lessening the impact and stress that are put on the ball of the foot or heel when walking in high heels. Most are made out of gel-like materials which will provide a soft and comfortable surface to walk on, and which can be a real lifesaver when walking on hard surfaces such as concrete or marble floors. Another great feature of these types of inserts is the fact that most of them will provide a better grip your feet have on the shoe, which will mean less sliding forwards, which, in fact, will result in preventing issues such as hammertoe, overhang, or even uncomfortable bunion pain.
Full-length insoles provide the most cushioning and support and can be used by those who already have developed issues stemming from wearing high heels or other uncomfortable shoes (e.g. plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain, neuroma, flat feet, etc.). These insoles will often feature arch support and heel cups, both of which will provide some much-needed stability.
Finally, there are those products which do not fall into any of these categories, but which can make or break a shoe wearing experience, such as bunion and toe guards and toe spacers. These are small inserts targeted to protect those irregularities which may, or already have resulted in more serious foot problems. These devices made out of soft materials will not only relieve pressure and prevent pain but even more, they have a great use in promoting correct foot and toe placement in any type of shoes.
- Use tape or grips for focused pain relief.
- Pads and cushions help lessen impact, shock, stress and provide grip.
- Full-length insoles provide full-coverage and can provide arch and heel support.
- There are specialized inserts that have a specific function that other inserts can’t treat.
The second most important criterion used to choose the best high heel inserts was the make and materials which comprise these products. Just as the material of a shoe (or heel) can make or break it – natural, soft and breathable almost always having an advantage over synthetic – so can the material of an insert make a huge difference in the way it affects the wearer.
The first thing to look at is the amount of cushioning an insert will provide. More is almost always better, so it is natural that the most comfortable inserts are those made out of memory foam. These polyurethane materials will react to body heat and mold to the wearer without losing any elasticity in the long run. Gel and silicone inserts are also excellent choices, as they offer a bit more support and stiffness, but are still soft enough to have shock absorbing qualities. What is key with any of these materials is the level of effectiveness when using only small amounts. As any shoe insert will take up precious space in your shoe, it is important to look at exactly how much that space comprises. Thick and bulky inserts can do more harm than good in that they allow for less space in the shoe for your foot. In addition, they can change core features of the shoe and the way it fits, so, for example, if your inserts raise your heel too high, this can create problems such as reduced stability or uncomfortable rubbing. The best inserts will have a thickness larger than just a couple of millimeters, so make sure to pay special attention to this aspect when shopping.
Apart from the cushioning, there is another aspect that can make or break an insert, and that is the material that will come directly into contact with your skin. Here is where preferences differ the most among wearers. If you are looking for something that will give you security and stability, and that will reduce sliding around in your shoes, make sure to choose one of the inserts which are made out of soft suede materials. These allow a good grip while also being soft on the skin. However, this type of material can cause your feet to feel hotter and will retain moisture for longer periods of time, which may lead to odors in your shoes. An alternative would be silicone or gel which is a material that won’t breathe and that does cause sweating, but which is also very easy to clean and dry after every use. Some inserts will use special moisture-wicking fabrics in order to make them more comfortable for the wearer, while others include carbon filters and anti-microbial linings that help control odors that will inevitably occur after excessive sweating in the shoes.
It’s also important to take into consideration the hygienic aspects of each shoe insert. While reusable and washable inserts are cheaper in the long run, they will definitely also mean more work for you. Doctors will recommend changing the insoles on any pair of shoes every three months in order to maintain optimal support and hygiene, but with several inserts, this time can be prolonged based on the materials which comprise them. First and foremost, if you plan on wearing your high heels without any hosiery, it really is a good idea to get inserts that can be easily removed and washed. Otherwise, your favorite pair of shoes could become a breeding ground for numerous bacteria that not only cause unpleasant smells but can also lead to more serious, uncomfortable and hard to get rid of issues such as fungus or warts. Generally, silicone or gel inserts are easier to maintain as it can be enough to just put them under a stream of water and thoroughly dry them before the next use. Those which include fabrics and other natural materials such as leather or suede will usually still be washable, but will also take longer to dry. Just remember – in order to keep the shape of your shoes, never put wet inserts in them. This is also important for your feet as you should aim to keep them as dry as possible.
Finally, what you want from the make of your shoe inserts is good adhesive power. Without this, slipping is inevitable, which means that your new insoles or cushioning tape can do more harm than good. The perfect insert will stay in place regardless of use. In the case of grips and pads, this means that they won’t move with your feet, or slip to places in which you need no cushioning, leaving the parts of your feet that do need protection bare. With tapes, adhesive power is just as important because failure to stay put will not only expose sensitive skin but even more, will allow for rolling and bulking which can create even worse blisters and sore spots. The products listed above have all been chosen considering user experiences paying special attention to how they would perform when required to stick.
- Inserts that are soft and breathable are the best choice.
- The thicker the cushioning, the more support and comfort.
- Memory foam is the most comfortable.
- Polyurethane (PU) responds and molds to body heat while keeping elasticity.
- Gel/silicone give more support and are usually stiffer.
- Pay attention to insert thickness. Too thick can make the shoe even more uncomfortable to wear.
- 2 mm in thickness is best.
- Soft suede can give the best grip but causes the most odors from sweating.
- It’s best to change inserts every three months, even for washable/reusable inserts.
- Adhesive power determines the insert’s sticking power.
Design and Visibility
If you are wearing high heels, chances are you are wearing them for aesthetic reasons, so an insert that breaks up the aesthetic of a shoe is definitely out of the question. That’s why design is crucial, especially with heels that feature open toes or are sandals that leave little to the imagination. This means that any insert on this list needs to be practically invisible, or alternatively, to perform as an integral design component of the shoe.
When choosing an insert, make sure you do not skimp on looks. If the insoles of your shoes are black or beige, you have endless opportunities to choose inserts that will match these colors and that won’t be seen by anyone but you. If you want something a bit more adventurous, get one of the products that have fun designs. For example, Foot Petals come in a pack of assorted animal prints which are a great way to make your sensible work heels a bit more fun.
If you cannot find inserts or grips that match your shoes, make sure to get ones that can be trimmed to give you the needed benefits but also that will remain invisible. Test the inserts out at home and try to look at them from all angles to make sure your beautiful shoes are not made less so by pieces of tape or suede sticking out of them.
- Translucent/invisible inserts are best for open-toe shoes and sandals.
- Inserts for open-toe shoes and sandals are usually thinner in cushioning.
- For closed-toe heels, the options are better and you can wear color matching inserts or unique designs.
- Trimmed inserts can give you even better options.
Even though your health and comfort have no price tag, it’s also important that your inserts don’t cost more than the actual shoes you will be wearing them with. Although most products on this list are affordable and won’t break the bank, it’s also important to take into consideration how much they will actually pay off.
Reusability is a great feature that will allow you to put your inserts in any pair of shoe you need. This can even mean going to work in one pair of shoes, than taking the inserts and putting them in another pair for a night out. This way, you get all the benefits across all of your footwear while only having to purchase one product. On the other hand, there are those products that are designed so as to become an integral part of your chosen pair of high heels, such as heel grips which you do not want to be easily removable, and which you want to stay in their place for as long as possible.
Lifespan also plays an integral part when choosing your inserts. You want your inserts to be as durable as possible, seeing that frequent replacements can make a big dent in your budget. You will need to think about how often you will use your inserts – are they for a pair of shoe you wear day in and day out, or do you intend to use them with high heels you wear once or twice a month, but which could use some help in the comfort department? Whichever the answer, make sure to consider the overall cost of the product. Be aware of the fact that some inserts are only intended for single use, or have a limited lifespan, and consider whether the benefits will justify them costing you a lot over a considerable period of time.
- Cheaper inserts can have a shorter lifespan.
- When choosing inserts, think about your shoe usage.
- Shoes that are worn rarely can have a short lifespan insert.
- Shoes that are worn regularly need to have a durable and long-lasting inserts.
- For inserts that are more robust, you might have to spend more than usual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Apart from using inserts, what can I do to make my high heels more comfortable?
A: Doctors will recommend not wearing high heels for long periods of time. If possible, limit your time in high heels to three hours per day, or two days in a row with a rest day in between. When choosing shoes, try to avoid pointed toes, and go instead with wider shoes. A wide heel can also be beneficial as it will give more stability, while wedges are great as they distribute weight across a larger surface and lower the angle at which you stand on the ball of your feet.
Q: How do I wash my shoe inserts?
A: First of all, make sure you read the disclaimer on the packaging of your inserts. If they are washable and can be put in water, determine whether just water will be enough. Keep in mind that soap and cleaning agents can weaken the adhesives used in the inserts, and only apply those which are stated as appropriate by the manufacturer. Always use the gentlest possible option so as to prevent material deterioration.
Q: What if I put my inserts in the wrong place?
A: If your inserts are removable, this is not a problem. Just take them out and reapply in the correct position you need them to be. If, however, you are dealing with non-removable inserts, make sure to test them before permanently applying. This can include using some sticking tape to test out the perfect positioning, as well as marking the part of the shoe they are supposed to go in. Furthermore, don’t try to save time by only fitting one shoe, as most footwear will fit differently on your right and left foot.
Q: How often should I change my insets?
A: This will depend on use and material. Full sole inserts that you use daily should be changed every three months as they can lose their shape. However, inserts that you use less, and that you don’t rest your entire weight on (such as grips) can last for much longer periods and should be changed when you feel they no longer provide the cushioning you need, or for simply hygienic reasons.
Q: Do I need different inserts for each pair of shoes?
A: Not necessarily. If you purchase inserts that are removable and reusable, then the answer is definitely no as you will be able to use these in more than just one pair. However, if you cut your inserts in order to make them fit a certain pair of shoes, then those will probably not be suitable for a different pair of shoes in a different style. The great thing about shoe inserts is that they are relatively cheap, which means that you can purchase a few different types and use them as needed in all of your footwear.