Do Cushioned Insoles Work?

Do Cushioned Insoles Work?

When you're shopping for insoles to make your feet feel better, you have enough options to make your head spin. Insoles run the gamut when it comes to firmness, so if you're left wondering which you should select to relieve your feet, you're not alone.


  • Cushioned insoles don't provide long-term foot pain relief because they lack the structure to correct the causes of foot pain or prevent mechanical issues.
  • When you're shopping for insoles that provide firm support, make sure you find ones that fit properly. They should mimic the contours of your feet and offer full, comfortable contact along the length of your arch.
  • Firm support can take time to get used to. Start by wearing firm insoles a few hours a day and gradually increase your wear time.
  • For an insole that provides firm support that helps relieve foot pain, we recommend Pace Pain Relief Insoles.



What Makes An Insole Good?

Think about your insoles the way you think about a mattress. You count on your mattress to provide long-lasting firm support for your back. While the super-soft, cushioned mattresses out there feel great for a night, sleeping on them for more than that will leave you with an aching back.

It's the same with insoles. You need firm support to give structure and comfort to your feet, and cushioned insoles just can't provide that. Like the cushy mattress, they might feel great for a few days, but they don't correct the causes of foot pain or prevent bio-mechanical issues such as overpronation. Properly fitting, firm, supportive insoles can correct for bio-mechanical problems, and provide support and relief. 

Cushioned Insoles Don’t Provide Support

Imagine your bed again. Let’s say you have a deep lumbar curve (an overarching of the lower back). Resting on a soft mattress provides initial comfort to low back pain by providing relief. But it doesn’t help support your back in the long run. In fact, it actually accentuates issues with your spine by allowing the body to resort to old postures.

A firm mattress, on the other hand, provides the structural support for your back to rest in a neutral position. Insoles work in the same way. Cushioned insoles provide initial comfort. But these types of insoles actually perpetuate biomechanical problems that are at the root of foot pain.

Firm Insoles Provide Long-Term Comfort

San Diego-based bio-mechanist Doug Stewart, Ph.D., maintains that support and not comfort should be the main criteria for choosing insoles. “You want something stiff that will support the arch and be complimentary to the ligaments, fascia and tendons of the foot,” says Stewart. In fact, Stewart argues that overly squishy insoles can exacerbate injuries.

There are two main reasons cushioned insoles don’t properly support your feet.

  1. Soft materials are not strong enough to provide arch support.While shock-absorbing materials such as gel or foam may seem to provide arch support, they are simply filling the space below your arch with material, not actually providing a strong foundation.
  2. Cushioned insoles don’t correct the biomechanical problems causing foot pain. Cushioned insoles allow your feet to move in the same manner as before. Thus they don’t address the cause of foot pain—and can’t correct it.

As you've been shopping around, you've probably seen heat-moldable insoles. While they may seem like a great choice because they conform to your feet in a “custom” way, they actually build in the biomechanical issue you're having into the insole. Which means you can't prevent it from happening and continuing to cause foot issues.

Why Firm Support Works

Firm, supportive insoles that fit properly can correct for biomechanical problems, and provide support and relief for sore, painful feet. Podiatrists recommend supportive insoles. Here’s why.

  1. Firm insoles help avoid hip and knee pain. When the biomechanics of your feet are off-kilter, your knees and hips suffer. Firm, supportive insoles can improve alignment and correct pronation. Good insoles do this by giving your feet structure.
  2. Firm insoles prevent foot ailments. Plantar fasciitis (the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick tissue that runs from the heel bone to the toes) can keep you on the sidelines, sitting out the things you love to do. If you’re an avid athlete or your work requires you to stand for long periods, this injury can wreak havoc on your feet. A firm, orthotic insole supports the calcaneal shelf (a bone that resembles a shelf on the inside of your heel) and controls pronation.

Be Patient When Getting Used To Firm Insoles

Just like a new, firm mattress, supportive insoles can take some breaking in. Insoles provide your feet the support they need. And they correct underlying biomechanical problems. This structure can feel different at first.

When you first get your new insoles, you'll be tempted to start wearing them all the time. For some people, it takes no time getting used to them. But for others, gradually breaking them in will be key. Having the patience to wear them for a longer period of time each day will ultimately payoff with comfortable, pain-free feet.

Insoles Only Work When They Fit Correctly

Most importantly, firm support that works must fit properly. The arch support of your insole should contour to the curves of your feet. Extra high arches just won't get the support they need from an insole designed for a low arch. And a person with low arches will probably find a high arch insole uncomfortable.

Make sure to get a proper fit from your insole for long-term relief. Remember, feet are not one size fits all, and neither are insoles. Find the ones that fit your feet best and provide firm support and you'll be surprised at how far you can go!



Questions? Drop us a line at We're here to help.

Mark Paigen
Mark Paigen

Mark has always believed exceptional footwear can change lives. He's been in the footwear industry for over 30 years, working with podiatrists, pedorthists, foot care experts, and footwear makers. Mark started Chaco sandals in 1989 and developed a game-changing sport sandal that delivered comfort and durability. After Chaco sold in 2009, Mark ultimately started Tread Labs to continue transforming people's footwear so they can walk better, feel better, live better.

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