What’s the Right Shoe Insole for Me?
There are several common reasons for buying insoles for shoes. You may experience foot discomfort and seek relief; you may be looking for an insole for athletic activities, such as running, soccer, or basketball; you may be looking to replace a worn-out pair of insoles when you bought them that came with your shoes. Since there are so many different products available and so many reasons to shop, we realize that it can be a challenging task to pick the right insole for your needs, especially for first-time shoppers. We want you to know we’re here to help you find the right stuff for you. This guide was designed to help point you to the right items for your requirements.
We have two fantastic tools available for you to help you get started with choosing your insole. To use our Insole Selector App, press the “Find the Perfect Insole” picture above, or read our step-by-step insole selection and site navigation guide here.
Top things to remember when you buy a new Insole
When purchasing a new insole or orthotic arch support, there are a few things that you should bear in mind:
Insole Sizing: The sizing is generally referred to as a shoe size set for an insole. For instance, “Men’s 9-11” (each manufacturer uses different sizing). For most full-length insoles, this is because the insoles are designed to be trimmed before use (trim-to-fit); the insole is made to be used in a variety of shoe sizes, and when inserting the insole in their boots, the user is required to trim any excessive length from the end of the insole. The size range on the item denotes the footwear sizes of which the insoles/inserts can be comfortably used for 3/4-long insoles and other insert pieces; 3/4-long insoles and inserts are typically not built to be trimmed in any way. If you are between sizes (when the insoles are measured “8-9” and “10-11”, you wear a size 9.5, you can buy the next size up.
Insole Placement: When you buy a full-length insole, before placing the new one, you will most certainly need to remove the current insole from your shoe. Almost all full-length insoles are intended to fully replace the insole you are already wearing; in addition to your existing insoles, only very thin and flat full-length insoles can be comfortably worn. If you buy a 3/4-length insole, this insole will be put on top of your current shoe insole. 3/4-length insoles are intended to be worn simultaneously with the current insole of your shoe. If you buy an insert piece, depending on the particular item purchased, you can place this insert either on top or below your existing shoe insole (inserts come with instructions for proper placement).
Your Form of Foot Arch: One foot arch usually refers to one of three distinct styles of arches: 1) neutral or medium arches, 2) low arches, flat feet, or dropped arches, and 3) high arches. Likewise, every insole is intended to work with one or more of these forms of foot arch. You can first define what your foot arch style is (more on that below) when browsing insoles, and then browse insoles that are designed to fit with that type of foot arch. It would probably be uncomfortable to wear an insole that is not built for your style of arch! Click here to see a video tutorial on how to decide your form of foot arch.
Insole Footbed Type: In general, one of four separate footbed constructions has insoles and orthotic arch supports: 1) rigid orthotic arch support, 2) semi-rigid orthotic arch support, 3) cushioned arch support, and 4) no arch support/flat cushion. The type of footbed you need will depend heavily on why you are looking for an insole, and you should be sure that you are searching for items with a type of footbed that matches your needs. Here we address in more detail the various forms of footbeds.
Material: Foam, gel, cork, and leather are the four most common materials from which insoles are made. Each has its advantages, and the product you select is largely dependent on choice. However, foam usually works best for cushioning, protection, and pressure relief; gel works well for absorption of shock; cork works well for support and mild cushion; and leather works well for cushion and feel (especially when worn with thin socks).
Popular reasons for buying an insole & products recommended
Below are some of the top reasons we have seen why our customers buy insoles, as well as the best tips for buying an insole for that reason.
Arch Pain & Plantar Fasciitis
You’ll want to look for an orthotic arch support with decent cushioning while finding relief from plantar fasciitis and foot arch pain. It fits better with a foam orthotic arch support with either a semi-rigid footbed or rigid footbed. For first-time buyers, for a good combination of support, versatility, and comfort, we suggest trying a semi-rigid orthotic arch support. We suggest using a rigid orthotic arch support for those who have worn orthotics before and are seeking more vigorous arch support. A layer of foam cushioning will help further relieve discomfort if you have room in your shoes, or look for low-profile insoles to accommodate tighter-fitting boots. For a complete list of insoles that are best for plantar fasciitis and arch pain release, visit our Plantar Fasciitis Insoles page.
Pronation is normal and corresponds, when taking a jump, to the natural inward roll of the foot. When taking a move, over-pronation deals with the state of the foot rolling too far inward, which can also lead to instability and pain in the foot. Try either a semi-rigid or rigid orthotic arch support to correct over-pronation to help keep the foot aligned and supported at all times. It would inevitably help to correct over-pronation by incorporating arch support and heel support that you will find in an orthotic arch support. We propose a semi-rigid orthotic arch support for first-time purchasers; we recommend a rigid orthotic arch support for those looking for violent arch support.
Usually, anyone who spends long periods of time standing suffers from foot pain. Seek a cushioned arch brace to avoid this, which will help keep the foot balanced gently during the day and take pressure off the foot. To relieve discomfort from standing, foam insoles perform best. For a complete list of insoles that work best for relieving pain from standing, visit our Insoles for Standing page.
Morton’s Neuroma is a pain felt in the forefoot that is burning, tingling, or sharp and is usually caused in the forefoot by a squeezed or irritated nerve. You may want an insole or insert with a metatarsal pad for your footwear, as well as extra forefoot padding to alleviate pressure on the irritated nerve if you suffer from Morton’s Neuroma. For a complete list of insoles and inserts for pain relief, visit our Morton’s Neuroma page.
Pain with metatarsalgia & ball-of-foot
You’ll want to pick an insole that features a metatarsal pad and plenty of top-coat cushioning if you suffer from metatarsalgia or other forefoot pain. The best choice here appears to be a cushioned arch support, but we provide semi-rigid and rigid arch support options for those looking for further foot support. For a complete list of insoles that are best for metatarsalgia and ball-of-foot pain relief, visit our Metatarsal Insoles & Inserts page.
Hallux Rigidus, Limitus Hallux, & Toe’s Morton
You would want to pick a stiff insole to stop the pain and discomfort caused by Hallux Rigidus, Hallux Limitus, or Morton’s Toe to keep your toes from flexing. Almost every shoe’s toe-box is built to flex when taking a move, so you’ll want an insole that can stop this flex as completely as possible. There are many items designed to be worn under your existing insoles on our Hallux Rigidus, Limitus, and Morton’s Toe tab, which will prevent your footwear from flexing.
Supination, or under-pronation, when taking a regular step, refers to the outward roll of the foot. During each step (‘pronation’), the foot is built to roll inward slightly, so the outward roll of the foot frequently contributes to pain and discomfort. Try either a semi-rigid or rigid orthotic arch support to avoid supination, to help keep the foot aligned and protected at all times. By steering the foot’s movement towards natural pronation, the combination of arch support and heel support that you will find in an orthotic arch support will naturally help to correct supination. We propose a semi-rigid orthotic arch support for first-time purchasers; we recommend a rigid orthotic arch support for those looking for violent arch support.
Shin Splints, Running, Walking, &
The combination of versatile support and shock absorption in their insoles is also required by cyclists, avid walkers, and those suffering from shin splints. For this, look for either a cushioned arch support or a semi-rigid orthotic arch support that is either a complete gel construction or features heel and forefoot gel padding. The stability you want with an active activity will be enabled by the cushioned arch supports and semi-rigid arch supports, and the gel padding will absorb impact shock to reduce fatigue on the feet and knees. There are a range of items on our Walking & Running Insoles page to meet these needs.
Arthritis & Diabetes
An insole that will be soft on the feet, help with circulation, and minimize the abuse and shock that the feet naturally suffer every day will be required for those suffering from diabetes and/or arthritis. As there are unique criteria to be considered a diabetic or arthritic insole, we will advise you to start searching for a complete list of suitable insoles for these conditions on our Diabetic and Arthritic Insoles page.
Heel Spurs & Pain in Heel
You’ll want to look for an insole with plenty of cushioning and padding on the heel of the foot if you suffer from heel spurs or other heel discomfort. There is a wide variety of items for this, from full-length insoles to heel insert bits to 3/4-length insoles. For a complete list of items that will help, check out our Heel Spurs and Heel Pain Insoles and Inserts page.
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An description of various types of Insole Footbed
Supports Orthotic Arch
Orthotic arch supports are insoles which, as part of their design, feature a rigid or semi-rigid support plate or support platform. Orthotic arch supports can also be referred to as “orthotic insoles,” “arch supports,” or simply “orthotics.” These insoles are built to ensure that all day long, regardless of what activities you participate in, your foot retains a safe, natural shape. By concentrating on two key areas of the foot, they do this: the arch and the heel. Orthotic arch supports are constructed with a built-in arch support that helps prevent the arch from over-collapsing and a heel cup to cradle the foot’s heel and restrict unnecessary movement of the ankle. The use of orthotic arch supports helps to reduce pressure on the plantar fascia, the muscle running along the bottom of your foot from heel to forefoot, which in turn helps avoid arch pain and plantar fasciitis. In addition, orthotic arch supports help direct the foot with each move to make a natural motion, avoiding over-pronation or supination.
A semi-rigid orthotic arch support features a very flexible support platform. This is perfect to provide good support for the foot without becoming “too stiff.” for the arch support.
A rigid orthotic arch support features a nearly absolutely stiff support platform. This is suitable for those seeking aggressive treatment for the arch and is not recommended for first-time users of orthotics.
Typically, orthotic arch supports need a short break-in duration before you wear them all the time. If you’ve never worn orthotic arch support before, we just recommend that you wear your orthotic arch support for the first week for 1 to 2 hours a day, then for the next week for 3-4 hours a day. It is normal to feel uncomfortable at first for orthotic arch supports, but breaking into the insoles over time can help alleviate discomfort. If the arch supports are still causing pain after several weeks, we may want to consider trying a different insole.
Finally, it is a common belief that “softer is better.” This is true in some situations, such as when someone spends the day standing but does not otherwise have foot conditions. However, it is almost always recommended that you pursue relief with an orthotic arch help when arch pain is involved. This is because your feet will not be given adequate arch support by a cushioned arch support or flat cushioned insole, and you will begin to feel arch pain.
Orthotic Arch Store Helps
Cushioned Arch Aids
Insoles that have a flexible arch support made entirely of cushioned padding rather than a rigid/semi-rigid support platform are cushioned arch supports. Cushioned arch supports can also be referred to as “arch cushions.” These insoles are intended to provide some foot support while mainly concentrating on providing optimum cushioning. In circumstances where adequate support is required, this is especially useful, but the primary purpose of the insole is to provide relief from foot fatigue. Cushioned arch supports appear to be favoured by walkers/runners seeking cushioned support over orthotic arch supports, and people who spend all day standing but otherwise suffer from no foot problems most benefit from cushioned arch supports.
Cushioned arch supports through a built-in arch support also provide support for the feet, and many even feature a stability heel cup. The amount of support you will get from a cushioned arch support, however, is much lower in almost all situations than that of an orthotic arch support. We advise that you seek an orthotic arch help instead if you suffer from arch pain, over-pronation, or supination. A cushioned arch support is the best type of insole for you whether you are suffering from foot fatigue or shin splints, or if you have tried a semi-rigid orthotic arch support and found it painful.
Store Supporting Cushioned Arch
Insoles for Flat Cushions/Replacement
Flat cushioned insoles have no arch support whatsoever and are insoles. These insoles are not intended to have any foot protection, but are intended to simply line the bottom of a shoe as a substitute for the sock-liner that comes with factory-new footwear. They are often called “replacement insoles.”
In many types, replacement insoles come with some providing a cushioned top-coat and others do not. To fit a wide variety of user needs, replacement insoles come in foam, leather, wool, cotton, gel and more fabrics. Replacement insoles tend to be thinner than insoles in all other types.
Shoppers who want to replace a worn-out sock liner or move their shoe insoles to another material, but do not want any foot support, should look for a new insole to purchase.
Store Insoles Replacement
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Other Insoles Styles
Insoles from Athletic & Activities
Athletic or athletic insoles are also more technical than other insoles in their construction. These are insoles built for the functions of a particular sport/activity and the specifications of a person participating in that activity. For instance, in order to help with their heel-to-toe (gait) movement, runners usually need good heel & forefoot padding as well as a foot support system. A stiff and compact insole that will work in tight-fitting footwear is required by cyclists. In bulky boots, skiers, snowboarders, and other winter sports activities require an insole that encourages heat retention and that is comfortable. Hockey & ice skaters need an insole specially built to fit into their skates. Start off on our Insoles by Activity page to search insoles by activity.
Insoles of Gel
For their outstanding shock absorption properties, gel insoles are well known. While gel tends to be heavier than other insole materials, insoles with gel construction or gel padding tend to be favored by those who perform high-impact activities such as running, walking, and court sports. This is because much of the impact shock from these movements can be absorbed by the gel, helping to minimize foot fatigue and maximize energy return. To see our complete range of gel insoles, visit our Gel Insoles page.
Insoles for Warm & Wool
For their insulation properties, wool insoles are cherished. These insoles, whether in the warm or cold, can help control and sustain the temperature of your feet. Over the summer, wool insoles help keep your feet cool, and many golf enthusiasts love using wool insoles in their golf shoes. In the winter, wool insoles can also help keep feet warm and make excellent additions to hiking boots and casual shoes. Likewise, warm insoles are designed to hold your feet… Well… well… Uh, wet. In spite of wool insoles being available year-round, many wool insoles are still called “warm insoles” Furthermore, hot insoles have insulated insoles that keep your feet toasty even in the coldest weather conditions. For a range of items to meet those needs, check out our Wool Insoles and Warm Insoles pages.
Over time, when you wear them, every insole will conform to your foot. However, heat-moldable insoles are built to speed this process up. You are able to mold the insoles to your particular foot form instantly by heating the insoles in the oven for a short time and then standing on the insoles as they cool. Anyone who wants a completely personalized fit should consider buying a heat-moldable insole as quickly as possible. On our Heat Moldable Insoles page, you can find a complete list of our heat-moldable insoles.
Insoles with Heavy Duty
You need an insole that can stand up to the harsh conditions of your job whether you work in construction or industrial fields. To do just that, heavy duty insoles are made. In order to satisfy your needs, our Industrial & Job Insoles page has a comprehensive list of heavy-duty insoles.
Insoles with Memory Foam
Memory foam is highly soft and helps to maintain the foot’s shape over time. As such, it’s popular with those with their insoles looking for a soft layer of cushioning. To see our collection of memory foam insoles, visit our page for Memory Foam Insoles.
Insoles with High Heel
It can be an uncomfortable task to wear high heels, and finding an insole that will fit in most high-heeled footwear is not easy. Visit our High Heel Inserts page for a variety of slender, low profile inserts that fit for high heels.
Insoles of a Child
Kid insoles are specifically designed to support the foot of a child and are available in a wide range of orthotic and cushioned choices. On our Kid’s Insoles page, we have a complete list of child-suited insoles.
Sandals & Boots for Orthotics
We sell a wide range of integrated orthotic support sandals, slippers, shoes, and slides. This is beneficial in cases where you either don’t want to use your removable insole (such as when wearing sandals on the beach) or can’t use your removable insole (such as in dress shoes, which often do not come with a removeable insole). Orthotic shoes allow you to maintain good support for the foot without the hassle of moving your insoles to any new shoe you wear. For a complete product lineup, be sure to check out our Orthotic Footwear and Orthotic Sandals sections.
Ideastep China’s leading orthopedic insole company
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