Insoles are removable inserts that go into your shoes and which provide support or shaping assistance to your feet.
When used correctly, insoles can drastically improve the way you walk and your comfort level as you stand for several hours.
Below you’ll find the top insoles based on rigorous testing from the FitBug experts panel.
1. Dr. Scholl’s Memory Fit Insoles
This set of memory foam inserts conform to the shape of your feet and are made to be breathable to increase airflow. They’re also constructed with gel technology to provide extra cushioning and energize you as you walk.
Dr. Scholl’s Memory Fit Insoles combine foot massaging with light rigidity as they mold to your feet over time. For these reasons, it’s our top pick.
2. Physix Gear Sport Full Length Orthotic Inserts with Arch Support
Physix Gear arch support inserts are designed to balance your feet structure, and work exceptionally well if you have flat feet, Achilles tendinitis, or shin splints. They’re made from medical grade dual base layer high-performance EVA foam so they’re both soft and durable.
These insoles are also crafted so that they don’t slip if there’s a little extra space in your shoes.
3. Dr. Scholl’s Fitness Walking Insoles
These walking insoles are appropriate for both men or women looking to reduce stress in their feet and legs. They use a special type of memory foam that can absorb up to 40% of the shock from every step you take.
Dr. Scholl’s fitness walking insoles are a great pick if you need to walk frequently for your job but don’t have a particularly bad arch shape.
4. Gaoag Shock-Absorption Breathable Insoles
These soft and breathable insoles are constructed with an advanced upper fabric layer that can absorb sweat and prevent your feet from smelling bad. They’re also ergonomically designed with a contoured heel cup for maximum comfort.
Gaoag’s Shock-Absorption Breathable Insoles are great for those looking for comfort and general assistance rather than as a solution for an arch problem.
5. Dr. Scholl’s Ultracool Insoles
Dr. Scholl’s Ultracool Insoles are made with activated charcoal beneath the top layer to neutralize odors. It also has cooling vents and supported cushioning to keep your feet from sweating or overheating.
They’re a perfect choice for those who are uncomfortable in their feet all day due to a hot environment or general odor.
6. Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support Insoles
Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support Insoles are perfect for relieving plantar fasciitis. They utilize biomechanical reinforcement technology to absorb shock effects and are built with their capsules to enhance cushioning. These insoles also combine comfort and arch support at the same time, so they’re great for all types of people.
7. Dr. Scholl’s Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief Orthotics
Dr. Scholl’s Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relief Orthotics are clinically proven insoles that are designed specifically for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
They’re also made with shock guard technology to reduce pain as you walk. These insoles use full-length insole cushions that can support your feet and increase your general comfort during your day-to-day activities.
8. Superfeet Green Insoles
Superfeet Green Insoles are made with a rigid synthetic heel and a soft fabric midsole layer that adds additional comfort and fills volume inside your shoe. The stabilizer cap at the base of the insole provides extra stability to the foam layer and helps you correct your posture the longer you wear them.
Its built-in foam layer also provides defense against shock from high landings or walking.
9. Dr. Scholl’s Heavy Duty Support Pain Relief Orthotics
Dr. Scholl’s Heavy Duty Support insoles are specifically designed for men between sizes 8 and 14 and over 200 pounds. They can relieve lower back pain as well as foot fatigue related to physical labor.
These heavy duty insoles can be trimmed to fit any shoe and use of shock guard technology that can reduce impact damage across the entire foot.
10. Sof Sole Men’s Athlete Performance Full-Length Gel Shoe Insert
Sof Sole Men’s insoles are made from 100% foam and feature a contoured neutral arch that works for the majority of foot types. It also uses gel pads in the heel and lightweight cushioning to offer extra comfort and shock protection.
The moisture-wicking treatment on the surface helps manage your temperature and prevents your feet from becoming too sweaty.
How We Ranked
Sof Sole Men’s insoles are made from 100% foam and works for most foot types. However, it is not ideal for more serious arch and foot pain, which is why it ranked last. Dr. Scholl’s Heavy Duty Support is great for bigger men, but aren’t ideal for the rest of the population, which is why it ranked near the bottom. Superfeet Green Insoles are a little more rigid, provision more stability. These insoles work better the longer you use them but are quite uncomfortable in the beginning.
Plantar Fasciitis Arch Support Insoles are great for absorbing shock and relieving plantar fasciitis. Their specific use is great for certain individuals but quite limited for the rest of the population. For this reason, we chose to rank it in the middle of our pack. Dr. Scholl’s Ultracool Insoles are great at eliminating odors, thanks to the activated charcoal. While they offer lots of extra technology for keeping your feet cool, they lack adequate support for long term use – especially for heavier persons. We chose to rank it 5th as a result. Gaoag’s insoles are great for sweatier people since they provide an upper fabric layer to absorb sweat. They also include a heel cup for maximum comfort, which is why it made our top 5.
Dr. Scholl’s fitness walking insoles use a special type of memory foam that can absorb 40% of the shock from every step you take. While great for people who are on their feet a lot, they are not ideal for people with bad arches. Physix Gear provides insoles that are great for flat fleet. Built from medical grade EVA foam, these insoles are both comfortable and durable for people who spend a lot of time on their feet. We chose to rank it 2nd as a result. Dr. Scholl’s Memory Fit Insoles provide the perfect balance of comfort and support. It uses a special memory form to hug your foot that also slightly massages the muscles to help avoid cramping and stiffness. It’s really no surprise that it took our top spot.
Insoles can help with walking comfort and lower the risk of injury among older adults. Certain insoles can be made that decrease the risk of falling or tripping by facilitating better motion.
A 2018 study had scientists conduct several measurement experiments with older people. The test subjects walked with several different types of shoes and insoles, and the scientists measured their gaits. By the end of the study, researchers found that insoles are effective interventions for safe walking among the older population (1).
Insoles can make your time at work more comfortable than it otherwise would be. This may mean that insoles can benefit the majority of the population even if they don’t suffer from foot problems outright.
A 1988 experiment involving 96 women was drafted to study how effective polyurethane insoles were at reducing general discomfort and foot pain among adults who spend most of their workdays standing. While 25 of the subjects reported that the shoes weren’t too comfortable after inserting the insoles, the majority found that their comfort increased. These adults also experienced significant reductions in back, foot, and leg pain (2)
Insoles can help to improve your posture. A 2013 study based on a systematic review of available literature had scientists looking over for databases of clinical trials, insole interventions, and outcomes in postural balance for the affected individuals. According to the research, insoles provide benefits to postural balance and control. This increase in control also led to better posture later in life, resulting in a habitual shift and excellent long-term benefits (3).
Insoles can help with flat-feet. Flat-footedness is a condition that arises when one’s feet are naturally shaped such that regular walking or standing causes consistent discomfort or pain. It’s normally a result of genetic misfortune rather than outside pressures and affects many people across the world.
A 2019 study involving patients with bilateral flatfoot were randomly assigned to one of two groups. The control group had patients wearing standard shoes with prefabricated insoles, while the second group had standardized shoes with customized insoles.
The group with the customize insoles specifically developed for treating flatfootedness had greater comfort overall than those who had regular insoles. As such, insoles were effective overall for comfort but custom insoles are a better treatment option if a patient’s foot shape is particularly uncomfortable (4).
Insoles can increase athletic performance for certain activities. Physical activity (and many related sports) rely on repeated walking or running motions, which place a lot of stress on the feet and lower legs. Insoles can help provide comfort and balance, increasing athletic performance.
A 2018 study involving 25 females had motion capture systems and force plates that were used to record vertical ground reaction force. The test subjects were placed into two groups: one with normal insoles and one with functional insoles with arch support.
Research showed that those with arch support functional insoles were more effective at decreasing pain and improving comfort overall during both activities. Additionally, the arch support insoles were much better at promoting effective weight-bearing patterns in the females. Thus, they promoted more effective running and walking (5).
Insoles are effective for dealing with certain medical conditions in the lower body. Some believe that insoles can help them with their key conditions or other issues as they affect the way weight is distributed in the lower legs. A 2015 study comprising 70 individuals with medical osteoarthritis set out to determine whether insoles could reduce discomfort in the patients over time. The test subjects used both specialized insoles compared to regular shoes.
It became clear that those with lateral wedge insoles had significant immediate knee pain reduction and better comfort over the short term. This was later repeated for all the individuals in the study, though the insoles did not affect the long-term development of osteoarthritis – indicating that insoles are best as short-term treatment options and not long-term solutions (6).
Insoles can help with shin splints. Shin splints are a condition that occurs when the muscles connected to your shin bones become aggravated or inflamed from repeated use. A 2002 review showed that there were multiple ways in which athletes could reduce their risk for shin splints, including the use of heel cord stretching exercises, alternative footwear, and running programs. The review also showed that shock-absorbent insoles and foam heel pads were particularly effective at preventing the development of this condition. Unfortunately, the review concluded with no strong support for any of the interventions due to the poor quality of many of the studies (7).
Insoles can help with plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis manifests as pain and stiffness in the heel or near the bottom of your feet. It can be sharp or burning and normally occurs in the morning or after long hours of standing or sitting.
A 2015 review showed that orthotics like certain types of insoles could be effective at reducing pain and improving the function of adults with plantar fasciitis without any real side effects. Additionally, both prefabricated and custom-fitted insoles were effective in this regard (8)
Insoles may not increase your athletic performance or protect you against injuries associated with “accelerated elevations.” A 2017 study with 34 participants carried out physical activities with three conditions: one with original sock liner in their running shoes, one with prefabricated insoles, and the third with custom-made insoles.
The study concluded that stride and acceleration parameters were not well modified when using custom insoles, especially when compared to prefabricated ones. This may mean that prefabricated insoles are just as good as “custom” ones unless you need special insoles for medical reasons (9).
Insoles can’t always help with Achilles tendinitis. Achilles tendinitis is characterized by the swelling of your Achilles tendon, which can include pain or discomfort as you walk or run, as well as the inability to compete in sports. Although this condition is similar to others that insoles are relatively effective at treating, this condition is not always caused by posture or your foot shape but by certain types of physical activity.
A 2016 review showed that there are multiple treatments for Achilles tendinitis, although insoles and other heel inserts are not necessarily effective at treating the condition. The only exception to this was when foot shape was a leading cause of the development of the tendinitis, which is rare (10).
Insoles are not very effective at the prevention of lower back pain. Lower back pain affects up to 80% of adults at some stage in their lives and may be the result of poor posture, diet, work habits, or other reasons. However, despite its connection with posture and spinal health, insoles are not effective treatments for this condition.
A 2014 review of available studies and literature, including 11 trials focusing on either the treatment or prevention of lower back pain using insoles, showed that there was no significant effect favoring their use. However, the researchers did conclude that there isn’t a lot of evidence to support that the insoles limited one’s chances of preventing lower back pain when combined with other efforts (11).
Expensive insoles are not necessarily better than cheap ones. In recent years, newer insoles with special materials are advertised as being able to alleviate back pain or other illnesses, including lower body conditions. These insoles are also often sold at higher prices compared to typical insoles made with regular materials.
A 2015 study involving 30 healthy adults and three randomized conditions split adults into groups with glycerin filled insoles, prefabricated orthoses, and flat control insoles across three tests; including level-ground walking and single-leg standing. The test results showed that there was no major difference between the three insole types in regard to test subject comfort or overall balance and performance scores. This shows that many more expensive insoles aren’t worth the money, and many may be fooled into paying much more than necessary for their benefits.
Shoe insoles can be used by anyone experiencing foot discomfort even if you don’t have a bad arch. However, overusing insoles or selecting the wrong insole for your shoes for feet can lead to negative side effects.
You should always target an insole that solves the problem you are having and which feels comfortable rather than picking an insole that fills your whole shoe. If your heels are uncomfortable, a gel insole or heel grip is a good idea.
A half insole is another good choice and is less likely to cause side effects over time. Larger insoles are better if you have too much room in your shoes and want to cut down on blisters or ingrown toenails.
If you have a bad arch, you should forgo picking up a store made insole and instead contact a podiatrist. They can take precise measurements of your shoes and feet and create insoles specially made for your needs.
You should leave your insoles out of the shoe from time to time to give your feet a break and to prevent wearing out your insoles too quickly. You should also remove your insoles frequently if you use them every day to let them dry out and prevent moisture or friction from rubbing them down. This helps them maintain their performance over time and prevents them from becoming too dirty or thin.
Do insoles weaken the feet? No, insoles provide support to your feet and arches. This does not affect the muscle force that your feet use when taking steps or performing other physical motions, nor does it affect the muscles in your legs. Insoles can actually help improve the strength of your feet and muscles over time by facilitates efficient walking and muscle motion. This helps your feet and legs grow stronger and more effective.
Do insoles cause pain? Some insoles can cause foot pain if they are poorly chosen or if they don’t fit the shoes they are meant to be used with. Some insoles can also cause foot pain if they are worn for too many hours of the day. Overly worn insoles can change the shape of the interior of your shoes and painfully alter your step or posture.
Can I wear insoles for non-medial reasons? Yes, most people who use insoles wear them because they want some of the above-mentioned benefits rather than to alleviate a medical condition.
Some people wear insoles to increase their height, although this is only recommended if your feet are generally comfortable and only works with very high or thick insoles. Others may wish for certain pairs of shoes to be comfortable but do not need general comfort assistance with their day-to-day shoe wearing.
What size insoles are right for me? In many cases, you will trim your insoles with scissors, especially if you buy them from the store. This lets you customize the size of the insoles to fit your shoes. For this reason, it’s usually recommended that you buy bigger insoles than you need since you can always trim away extra material.
If you need medical insoles developed by a podiatrist, they will be made with a custom size derived from your measurements. Talk to your podiatrist about your foot size and the sizes of your insoles if you need to order them after getting custom measurements down.
What are insoles made of? Gel insoles are among the most popular on the market, especially for store-bought varieties. Foam insoles are also relatively common and are often used as a one size fits all option that can be trimmed for a custom fit. Both of these materials are popular because they provide a soft cushioning effect while maintaining relative rigidity and molding to the shape of your foot over time.
Gel is used in many athletic insoles since it’s absorptive properties make it great for athletes that need to run or jump frequently. Some insoles are also made from cork or leather. These types of insoles are generally designed to be rigid insoles that provide tough arch support and may be combined with a soft covering or gel layer.
Are different types of insoles really that different? Insoles differ based on their shape and how they support your feet rather than their “type”. Athletic insoles, for instance, may offer additional shock support or heel support to prevent athletes from experiencing typical stresses resulting from their activities.
More common arch supports may be flatter or crafted for greater comfort because of these factors matter more for the general user than an athlete. However, a normal person can use an “athletic” insole without issues.
What is the best way to clean insoles? Insoles require regular maintenance for them to last for years. Many of the materials used to make insoles are vulnerable to water damage, so they should never be submerged – even for cleaning.
To clean your insoles, fill a bowl with hot water and soap. Then grab a clean rag or sponge and wet it with the soapy water. Next, use the rag to clean the insoles. Dry the insoles thoroughly after to remove any leftover grease. You should never wear your insoles if they are still wet, as this can affect their shape and how effective they are when supporting your feet. You should also not use a soap that has silicone, as this can damage or dismantle certain insole materials.
How often should you replace your insoles? This answer is subjective because only you can tell when your insoles are no longer working and when you need extra support. Even well-maintained insoles will eventually get worn down from regular wear and tear and will need to be replaced. If they were working fine for you before starting to fail, try to replace the exact same type and material of insole, so your feet don’t need to get used to anything new.
Can you get custom insoles without going to the doctor? Yes, it’s possible to get custom heat-moldable insoles without going to the doctor. Once purchased, you must warm the insoles in your oven to allow the material to soften. These warmed insoles will then mold to your feet, providing custom insoles.
How long do insoles last? Regular insoles will last for about six months if you use them as your primary insole. Serious runners may need new insoles every few months because of the increased friction and shock absorption. Keeping your insoles clean and maintaining them, like taking them out of your shoes to dry in between uses, may extend this lifespan significantly.
Can kids use insoles? Yes, kids can use insoles and benefit from them, but they are often more difficult to find. This is because kids don’t typically weigh enough to experience the same level of discomfort as adults with foot problems or irregularly shaped arches.
Do insoles help treat shoe bites? A shoe bite is the result of friction from your shoe rubbing against your foot. It tends to cause a tender area that should be treated and protected. The easiest way to treat and prevent shoe bites is to wear proper fitting shoes. You should also ditch shoe styles and brands that cause shoe bites, especially if they are already the right size.
Insoles can also help protect the skin from friction and are a great way to help prevent shoe bites. Tape, toe caps, and thick socks are also effective measures. A 2016 study, involving 128 participants, showed that paper tape reduced blisters by up to 40% (12).
Who would benefit the most from insoles? Most people who spend many hours of their day standing or walking could benefit from insoles to some extent. Most people don’t have very damaging foot conditions or arch trouble but do suffer from periodic foot pain or soreness, which insoles could help alleviate. Comfortable and supportive insoles are particularly helpful if you spend the majority of your day standing in place.
Are softer insoles better than harder ones? No, softer insoles have different uses than harder ones. Softer insoles may be helpful for certain types of ailments or shoes, but rigid insoles are often better for those needing extra arch support. Your foot and arch shape will also determine which type of insole is better.
Are insoles supposed to be comfortable immediately? Insoles usually require a breaking-in period before they become comfortable. This helps the insoles aligned with your feet and apply pressure to the bottoms of your feet to change how you walk or stand. If you have difficulty wearing your insoles at first, you can wear them for shorter periods of time intermittently and build up a tolerance before making them a permanent addition to your shoes.
Can you wear your friend’s insole if you forget yours at home? Insoles are very subjective products, much like shoes are. The right pair of insoles for you may not be the ideal insole for someone else.
What are the most important factors to consider when looking for an insole? A few key things to look for are what the insoles are shaped for, like general comfort or treatment for arch support, and whether they could be trimmed. All the insoles on our list can be trimmed to fit any shoe or foot size, which makes them appropriate for everyone.
Memory foam is great for most people as it molds to the foot while providing an overall soft material and pillowing sensation. Another big thing to consider with insoles is whether they’ll make your shoes too hot for comfort.
What features in insoles help limit sweat and odor? Insoles made with air vents facilitate cooler conditions to alleviate sweat. Activated charcoal can help to neutralize foot odor.
Can insoles help with osteoarthritis? Yes, choosing the right insole can help relieve knee pressure and pain associated with osteoarthritis. According to one review, “Insoles and footwear offer great potential, as simple, inexpensive-treatment strategies for knee osteoarthritis.” (13).
Though, the review does indicate that more research is needed to confirm these findings.
Can insoles help heal foot ulcers? In general, standard insoles won’t be able to help foot ulcers. However, insoles like the Purdue insole, are designed to bring more oxygen to the foot, improving its ability to heal from ulcers. More research is needed to confirm these findings, but it’s a promising start.
Can insoles treat knee arthritis? Insoles probably can’t help treat knee arthritis, despite popular belief.
Do insoles help treat planter fasciitis? Yes, molded insoles can help treat plantar fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is a fairly common foot condition that causes pain in the heels of the foot. The pain is a result of the inflammation of the ligament that are responsible for shock absorption, also know as the plantar fascia ligaments.
Lavender oil is also a great remedy for treating planter fasciitis, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. The best way to apply it is to ass a few drops to a moisturizing carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and rub it into the bottom of your feet.
Can insoles help treat high arches? Some people are born with unusual high or low arches, both of which can lead to issues such as pain and imbalance. Insoles can help treat feet with high arches by providing additional support.
To check if you have a high arch, first step on a piece of paper with wet feet. If only an imprint of your heel and front of your foot is around, then you most likely have a high arch. Other effective tests include X-rays, walking patterns and family history. Treating a high arch is important because it can lead to a lot of issues such as claw toes, ankle instability, metatarsalgia and plantar fasciitis.
Insoles can be a great solution if you experience general day-to-day discomfort walking in your favorite shoes, or if you need arch support for a foot condition like Achilles tendinitis.
They’re easy to fit into most shoes and can improve your daily comfort. Remember to speak to a podiatrist if you suspect that your arch supports need to be more customized.
For FitBug’s #1 recommended insole, click here.