With so many types of insoles available, figuring out which one is right for you can mean falling down a rabbit hole of research and reviews. While it’s important to learn the different types of orthotics and how to find the best insoles to meet your needs, the process doesn’t have to be complicated.
We’ll help you choose the right shoe inserts.
In this guide, we’ll cover:
When some people want to solve their foot problems, their first instinct is to get the highest quality (and most expensive) option, assuming it is the best solution. But rushing out to get custom orthotics when you are dealing with foot issues isn’t necessarily the right move.
While this type of orthotic is the right choice for some people, it should not be considered the go-to option. According to Dr. Richard Braver, a sports podiatrist and Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM), orthotics and prescription orthotics should be the last option to solve foot pain—not the first.
Another consideration? The value of the product versus the price. While custom orthotic prices fall usually within the range of $200-$800, they aren’t necessarily more effective than over-the-counter or semi-custom insoles. In fact, a 2009 study found “there is no evidence that custom orthoses are more effective than prefabricated ones.”
Heat-mold insoles provide a different way to custom fit insoles to your feet. Here’s how they work:
The new shape closely matches the bottom contour of your foot. Perhaps it sounds great in theory, but in practice it’s a different story. While the heat-molding process is easy enough, it is not an effective way to get the support you need.
You should be wary of purchasing heat moldable insoles for two reasons:
So, if they're not so great, why do heat molded insoles get good reviews? It actually comes down to footwear. 99% of the footwear sold today offers very little support. Therefore, almost everyone feels more comfortable after adding any bit of arch support, including the support that comes from heat moldable insoles.
Cushioned insoles offer immediate appeal—after all, extra cushioning sounds like it should mean extra comfort. But do these inserts offer the long-term foot pain relief you’re looking for?
Most often, they don’t, and in some cases, they can even exacerbate the pain you’re experiencing. The truth is, extra cushioning also means less support. Whatever cushy material the insoles are made of - gel, foam or otherwise - they’re not providing a strong foundation for your feet. If you need foot and arch support, be wary, as you definitely don’t want to exchange short-term comfort for long-term relief.
Semi-custom insoles offer the best of both worlds to people looking for relief from foot pain. Offering more individualized features than the generic, over-the-counter inserts you’ll find at the drugstore or Walmart, semi-custom insoles are also significantly less expensive than custom orthotics.
By offering a range of insole options that address various needs and are designed for different arch heights, semi-custom insoles offer the fit and support people with foot problems need.
However, semi-custom inserts do vary greatly by manufacturer. As you’re shopping around, look for specific features, including:
When you finally choose a pair of semi-custom insoles with these features, it will help relieve foot pain by:
Once you know what kind of inserts you want to buy, there are still other factors to consider. You’ll want to take into account:
After you've considered all of the factors, from usage to arch height, you're ready to buy insoles. Once you get them, give your feet time to get used to them. Start out wearing them for a few hours a day and gradually increase the time you wear them. Be patient and your feet will thank you!
Questions? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help.
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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