Do insoles really help with foot pain?

Shoe Insoles for Foot Pain Relief

Are you suffering from some type of foot pain?  If you suffer from some type of foot pain like plantar fasciitis or achilles tendonitis, you might be looking into ways to help relieve that pain.  One way might be to use a shoe insert/ insole, or orthotic.   So the question is do insoles really help with foot pain?  Well, the answer is, it depends.  Now I know that isn’t what most people want to hear, but it is the truth.  Insoles and orthotics could help, depending on your issue and circumstances.

Orthotics vs Inserts

So what is what?

Inserts can be bought in many stores without a prescription from a doctor.  They are usually only intended to provide extra cushion or support.  Shoe inserts or insoles are made of many different materials like gel, foam, and plastic.  They are not custom made, but some can be modified to fit your foot better.  Shoe insoles provide extra support and cushioning for the heel, around your toes, or for the entire foot.   In other posts, I have reviewed several of the best insoles for plantar fasciitis, which reviews several of the top shoe insoles or inserts available today without a prescription.  One thing to also remember is that shoe insoles or inserts are generally very affordable costing anywhere from $15 – $45 depending on what brand and quality of the insole or insert.

Orthotics are custom devices prescribed to you by your doctor or podiatrist.  These are specific medical devices intended to address a specific foot pain issue.  They can correct issues with how you walk, run, or stand.  They can also help with very specific medical conditions like plantar fasciitis, arthritis, and diabetes.  Orthotics can also help with the issue of flat.  Orthotics are completely custom, so the price for a custom orthotic can range from $400 -$500.

 

Foot Pain that can be treated with Insoles or Orthotics

Here are several different foot pain causes which might have you considering insoles or orthotics.

  • Plantar Fasciitis or Arch Pain
  • Over-Pronation – rolling of the foot inwards when taking a step
  • Standing for Long Periods of Time
  • Supination – rolling of the foot outwards when taking a step
  • Running or Walking
  • Diabetes and Arthritis
  • Heel Spurs or Heel Pain

Each of the above issues can be addressed with a different type of insole or orthotic.

Plantar Fasciitis or Arch Pain

If you are looking for relief from plantar fasciitis or arch pain, you could look at using an insole or orthotic with good arch support and good cushioning.  A foam-based arch support with a semi-rigid foot bed works best.  This will provide a good combination of support, comfort, and flexibility.  Check out our post on plantar fasciitis insoles.

Over-Pronation

Overpronation is a condition where the foot rolls inwards while stepping.  Overpronation can be addressed by an insole or orthotic with a semi-rigid or rigid arch support.  This will help keep the foot in alignment and supported at all times.

Standing for Long Periods of Time

Many people spend long periods of time on their feet, teachers, doctors, nurses, service industry workers, or construction workers.  Standing for long periods of time puts stress on your feet.  A cushioned foam arch supporting insole should help relieve the pressure off the foot.

Supination

Supination n is a condition where the foot rolls outwards while stepping.  Supination can be addressed by an insole or orthotic with a semi-rigid or rigid arch support.  This will help keep the foot in alignment and supported at all times.

Running or Walking

Runners and walkers could use the extra shock absorption of a cushioned arch support that might feature gel construction or padding at the heel and front of the foot.

Diabetes and Arthritis

Those who might suffer from diabetic or Arthritic foot pain could use an insole that will be easy on the feet.  The insole or orthotic should help assist with circulation as well.

Heel Spurs and Heel Pain

Heel Spur and Heel Pain suffers will want an insole with plenty of cushioning and padding in the at the heel of the foot.

Types of Insoles and Orthotics

There are several types of insoles and orthotics, each can be used for a different purpose and aliment.

Orthotic Arch Supports – Rigid Orthotics

Orthotic arch supports are insole or orthotics that have a rigid or semi-rigid construction.  They are designed to make sure your foot maintains a healthy and natural form regardless of the activities you perform all day long.  They are designed with built-in arch support to prevent the collapse of the arch.  Some also contain a heel cup to cup the heel and limit excess ankle movement.

Cushioned Arch Supports – Soft Orthotics

Cushioned arch supports are insoles that feature flexible arch support made from cushioned padding.  These insoles are designed to provide some support for the foot while focusing on providing maximum cushioning. This is useful in situations where proper support is desired, but the primary goal of the insole is to provide relief from foot fatigue and pain. Walkers/runners seeking cushioned support tend to prefer cushioned arch supports, and people who spend long periods of time standing benefit most from cushioned arch supports.

What if you decide to choose custom orthotics or insoles?

Custom orthotics can cost hundreds of dollars, ranging from $400 -$500 depending on the materials the orthotics are made from.  You also will need to have the custom orthotic prescribed to you by your doctor.  Often times these custom orthotics are not covered by insurance, So why would a person want to go the custom route?

The reason there is such a difference in price has to do with the customization and materials used when making the custom orthotics. The quality and durability of the materials, along with the custom molding process, contribute to the expense of custom orthotics. The custom orthotics cost more, but last longer and can be more effective.

 

Do insoles help with foot pain?

As I stated earlier on in this post the answer is it depends.  If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, foot, heel, knee or toe pain the answer may be a $40 insole or orthotic, a custom orthotic, or some simple stretching.

With the correct treatment plan, and maybe a little help from an insole or orthotic, you will be back on healthy feet in no time at all. If you are experiencing pain in your feet or ankle and insoles or orthotics have not helped, then you should make an appointment with your physician or podiatrist to have your issue checked out.

 

Other Resources

 

Sources:

WebMD – What are shoe orthotics

Custom Orthotics vs Over the Counter

Guide to Insoles

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