The difference between comfortable and uncomfortable shoes can often come down to the insole. You may find the perfect shoe that looks amazing, but when you try it on, it doesn’t feel pleasant to wear. An easy fix is to get yourself an inexpensive insole that can make a huge difference with support and comfort. If your doctor has recommended inserts to deal with pain from foot issues, you don’t necessarily need to spend hundreds of dollars on custom orthotics. There are a lot of great alternatives to expensive orthotics that are designed to reduce foot pain and discomfort that you may want to try out before going the custom route.
Many different types of inserts are readily available that come in various kinds of materials. This post is focusing on insoles that can help with common foot pain that comes from plantar fasciitis, heel and arch discomfort, flat feet, as well as sore, tired feet and legs from standing or walking all day. The following are some of the most comfortable and popular insoles that will make walking and standing so much more pleasant.
Powerstep Pinnacle Shoe Insoles
The Powerstep Pinnacle Shoe Insole is an excellent alternative to expensive orthotics. It is a best-selling design that has a heavily cushioned EVA foam base and plush top layer, with a firm and flexible arch support. They are designed to help with the pain that comes from plantar fasciitis, metatarsal pain, heel and arch issues, pronation, flat feet, sore and tired feet, as well as other common foot conditions. What is interesting about this design is that it can support all arch types, which is quite usual. The Powerstep is also easy to insert into most shoes that have removable insoles, including athletic, casual, dress, and work shoes or boots. The Powerstep has a reputation for being durable with a long life and is often recommended by chiropractors and podiatrists. It provides excellent support for a variety of conditions and is very comfortable for most people right off the bat despite not feeling super soft and cushioned when you first take them out of the package.
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Physix Gear Sport Full-length Orthotic Inserts
The Physix Gear Sport high arch support is a sports insole that works well for flat feet, runner’s knee, shin splints, and Achilles tendinitis. It is an insert that is quite stiff and not overly cushioned when you first remove it from the packaging. The arch support is firm but not so stiff that it doesn’t move, just enough to be comfortable and supportive. A lot of people have had tremendous success getting rid of foot and knee pain with this product that aligns your feet and supports your arch positioning correctly. If it’s your first time wearing inserts with an arch, you will need to build up how much you wear them by using them for a few hours a day during different types of activities, or else they will feel uncomfortable. For most feet, it takes about 4-5 days to adjust to the Physix Inserts, but once your feet are used to them, they are incredibly helpful in relieving pain. This is another EVA foam based option that is a versatile design that works well for all kinds of activities aside from sports. They come with an easy to use trimming guide that makes it simple to get the perfect fit.
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HappyStep Shoe Insoles
HappyStep Shoe Insoles are an inexpensive cushioned option that uses high-density memory foam for support and comfort. This style is designed to replace the insoles that come with regular shoes with removable inserts so you can add extra cushioning. They aren’t a product that you would get if you need serious arch support or orthotic features on your insole but rather if you want a cushioned option to ease pain from walking or standing for long periods. They are kind of an all-purpose insole that can work reducing multiple types of foot issues like Planter fasciitis, bursitis, pressure spots, and ball of foot pain. They are super easy to trim-to-fit and fit most running or casual shoes.
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Superfeet Green Insoles
Superfeet have several different products that vary based on the level of arch support you need or type of shoe or activity you are wearing or doing. One of their most popular designs is their Green Insoles that are for high arches. This product has a deep heel cup to help absorb shock in addition to the high arch support that can reduce stress on feet, ankles, and knees, as well as to provide comfort with the closed-cell foam. If you are looking for an insole that is durable and that will last a long time Superfeet are well worth a look since the average lifespan of the insert is about six months, but they can last for up to a year. It is another design where the insoles are uncomfortable upon first wearing them since they are a little bit hard and not cushiony, so they take some getting used to. Once you are used to them, they are comfortable and help with foot pain making it much easier to walk. They work well to help with problems with pain in the heel as well as for tired feet. They are a bit expensive, but most shoppers feel they are worth it. This is another product that is often recommended by podiatrists.
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Sof Sole Insoles Women’s Performance Insert
For those women who have high arches or just looking for a little more support and cushion to be able to stay on your feet all day, the Sof Sole Insoles Women’s Performance Insert is a great option to check out. The main features to note are the enhanced arch height and deep heel cup that provide support while taking the pressure off your heel. It also has a gel drop in the heel for more cushioning. This product works best for athletic and casual footwear and can be worn for activities like running, walking, or working out. It can provide excellent support and can help reduce pain and discomfort for a lot of foot issues. Sof Sole Insoles are also known for being very comfortable. They do take up quite a bit of room so they work best with shoes with removable insoles or if you go up a size in your footwear. This product doesn’t come with a trimming guide, but they are easy to cut to size if needed.
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What to Look for:
Arch support – If you are looking for arch support there are a lot of orthotic inserts that you can buy that work for neutral or medium arches, low arches, flat feet, fallen arches, or high arches. To get the right product, you need to figure out the type of arch that you have and then ensure that you read the product specifications for the specific arch support that will work for you. If you do end up with an insole that is not made for your arch type, it will probably be painful and uncomfortable to wear.
Sizing- Insoles usually come as a range of sizes that you must then trim to your specific size. Most products include a trimming guide to help you get the right fit. If no instructions are provided from the manufacturer, you can use the removable insoles that come with your shoes as a guide for cutting the product to size.
Footbed Type- In general, insoles and orthotic arch supports fall into one of the following categories: rigid orthotic arch support, semi-rigid orthotic arch support, cushioned arch support, and no arch support/flat cushion.
Adjustment Period– If you have never worn orthotic supports before, you need to slowly break them in by wearing them for a short time each day so your feet can get used to them.
Cushioning– If you are looking for a product that can help with foot pain that occurs when standing all day or for walking or running, cushioned arch supports are a good option. The arch support is made from padding rather than a rigid material that is found in a lot of orthotic inserts. They also often have a heel cup. A popular material for cushioning is memory foam, which is very soft and helps retain the shape of your foot over time.
Fit– As mentioned above, most inserts are trimmable so you will be able to get the right fit for your feet and shoes. The other thing to look for are features that stop the insert from moving around in the footwear like a nonslip heel. When you are trimming the insert be very careful because if you cut too much, it will slide around in your footwear and become uncomfortable.
Type of activity– When browsing insoles be aware that there are different products available for various activities you may find yourself doing, including sports, walking, running, dress shoes, and heavy-duty activities.
Type of Shoe – Also be aware of the kind of shoe that the insole is designed for. There are different options for sneakers, casual shoes, hiking shoes, athletic, dress, and work shoes or boots.
Budget– You can get pretty good quality cushioned inserts for as low as $15 that will have a lifespan of about 6 to 12 months. For over the counter orthotics insoles you can expect to pay a little bit more some are in the $50 range, which is still a bargain compared with custom orthotics that can cost from $500-$800.