There's no reason why standing, walking, or even running need to be painful. And if your shoes aren't cutting it comfort-wise, instead of upending your entire shoe collection, consider investing in a set of insoles.
An affordable, accessible solution to sore feet and achy arches, insoles are great for a number of reasons. Not only can they help with foot problems like flat feet and plantar fasciitis, but they’re also an easy way to add comfort and support to your shoes — and in some cases, they can even extend the wearability of your favorite pair.
Luckily, there are several great over-the-counter options available online that don't require a visit to the podiatrist. We tapped Mohammad Rimawi, MD, a podiatrist in New York City, to ask which shoe insoles he recommends for the most common foot issues.
Here are eight of the best insoles to make any shoe more comfortable, according to Dr. Rimawi:
That being said, Dr. Rimawi does encourage people to have a proper foot evaluation if they find "themselves constantly alternating between different insoles" in search of one that works for all of their specifications. "Although over-the-counter insoles may provide symptomatic relief, they are not tailored to meet each individual's needs," he said, adding that a custom doctor-prescribed orthotic may help those with a variety of foot issues.
In the meantime, these podiatrist-approved insoles can help increase comfort and add support, no matter what style of shoe you’re wearing. Read on to learn why these are the best insoles for your feet.
Dr. Rimawi says that the right insole for bunions varies depending on why you have bunions in the first place. For example, if you're getting bunions because you have flat feet, you need to address that issue first. According to the Mayo Clinic, bunions commonly form when you're wearing narrow or tight shoes, since that can cause the bones in your toes to shift uncomfortably. For that reason, Dr. Rimawi suggests an insole that has a "wide and padded forefoot sole," like this popular option from Walk-Hero.
The number one best-selling shoe insoles on Amazon, these insoles add cushioning and shock absorption to your shoes for lasting comfort — and many customers say these have helped relieve foot pain associated with bunions. "I love these orthotics, they really [relieved] my metatarsal area of my feet — especially my bunion area," one shopper wrote, while another said these insoles changed their life.
To buy: amazon.com, from $10
While high heels certainly look great, they’re notorious for being a killer on the feet. Fortunately, there are ways to make them a little more comfortable. Dr. Rimawi says these insoles "offload pressure on the front of the foot to provide symptomatic relief." Customers certainly seem to agree. One buyer raved that wearing these $10 foot cushions was like taking a "walk in the clouds."
While Dr. Rimawi’s first choice for flat feet would be a custom orthotic, he likes this over-the-counter option because it helps control heel pronation (which happens when the foot rolls inward after coming in contact with the ground) and provides arch support. Both are necessary features to help correct flat feet and mitigate pain or soreness from the condition.
These cushioned, shock-absorbing inserts have hundreds of positive reviews. "If you need or use inserts for flat feet these are the absolute BEST and the only ones that I will EVER use!" one customer said.
Plantar fasciitis is when the band of tissue on the bottom of your foot gets inflamed. It's a common reason behind heel pain — especially in people who are on their feet a lot — and can cause a stabbing sensation. Dr. Rimawi says that doctors typically suggest orthotics as part of an overall prevention or treatment plan, and he considers this set from Powerstep "a great over-the-counter orthotic in helping alleviating symptoms related to plantar fasciitis." With an ultra cushioned EVA base, ample arch support, and an antimicrobial top layer to prevent sweating and odor, it’s no wonder why a whopping 5,000 Amazon shoppers gave these comfortable insoles a perfect five-star review.
To buy: amazon.com, from $28
"People with high arches will tend to have increased pressure under the ball of the big toe joint, heel, and on the outside of the foot," Dr. Rimawi said. He recommends getting an insole that can support these areas, touting this arch support cushion from Superfeet a good over-the-counter choice. Reviewers seem to agree, with nearly 1,600 people leaving positive reviews and raving about how comfortable these are. One shopper said: "These are essential as I have very high arches. I believe these are the best insoles you can buy." Another called them a “foot saver,” while a third reviewer said they “would not walk anywhere without these.”
To buy: amazon.com, from $44
According to Dr. Rimawi, running orthotics are different from everyday insoles because they should support the foot, help it withstand the force of repeatedly hitting the ground, and accommodate constantly changing positions. He says that most people can use this Currex RunPro insole, but if you're more serious about your running, you may want a podiatrist to examine you and recommend a custom orthotic.
The many positive reviews on Amazon back Dr. Rimawi’s statement, with one reviewer noting that the Currex is an "excellent non-prescription insole."
To buy: amazon.com, $50
For those with wider feet, Dr. Rimawi recommends these Powerstep insoles. Made with a dual layer of cushioned EVA foam and a deep heel cup, these wide-fit orthotics offer ample arch support and comfort to any shoe. They have hundreds of positive reviews, with multiple customers calling the insoles a "lifesaver." One wrote that after trying the orthotics, they experienced “IMMEDIATE relief of ALL of my symptoms."
To buy: amazon.com, $38
This heavy-duty insole from Spenco, which Dr. Rimawi considers a good brand, helps support the foot while standing or walking on hard surfaces for long hours. Customers seem to agree that these high-quality orthotics are not only supportive and help relieve pain, but they’re also durable and built to last through years of wear. "I am working security 12 hour days, seven days a week," one buyer said. "I put these in my shoes and it's like a pillow for my feet."
To buy: zappos.com, $20
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