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Podiatrists Reveal Their Favorite Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis and Other Foot Bothers

British study reveals that inexpensive shoe inserts can work just as well as $500 custom orthotics

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When foot pain flares, it can be difficult to do everyday tasks like grocery shopping or walking the dog, let alone the more active hobbies you love. The good news: You don’t have to suffer through another painful step. Simply slipping cushioned insoles into your favorite pair of shoes can provide immediate relief, say doctors and peer-reviewed research. So we tapped top podiatrists for their recommendations for the best insoles tailored to your needs. Whether you’re looking for relief from the pain of plantar fasciitis, extra padding for an uncomfortable pair of high heels or inserts to ease the stress that standing all day has on your body, we’ve got a pair of insoles that fits the bill. And they cost far less than a pricy pair of custom orthotics, too!

The top cause of foot pain: Plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis, the most common causes of foot pain, affects more than 2 million men and women in the US. The condition occurs when the plantar fascia, the connective tissue that runs along the bottom of the foot from the heel to the base of your toes, becomes inflamed and causes sharp heel and arch pain. It’s triggered by everything from standing for long periods of time to constantly pounding the pavement. It’s more common in women 40 to 60 years old, notes podiatrist Jaqueline Sutera, DPM. (Learn how to stop foot pain from standing all day and what to do if you have plantar fasciitis so bad you can’t walk.)

An illustration of plantar fasciitis, which can be soothed with insoles

Other reasons your feet might feel achy are arthritis, wearing heels or ill-fitting shoes, weak arches, bunions, and standing on your feet all day. In fact, foot pain is so common that surveys show 80% of Americans suffer from foot pain. And 80% of them spend a whopping $228 a month treating it with podiatrist visits, orthotics and more.

Related: 2-Minute Bed Stretch Eases Bunion Pain + More Bunion Self-Care Tips

Why women experience more foot pain than men

While any ache is bothersome, women often experience more intense foot pain than their male counterparts. “Hormonal changes as we age lead to lower bone density and more stress on our feet,” explains Dr. Suzanne Levine, DPM, a foot surgeon at Millenium Podiatry in New York City. Podiatrist Douglas Tumen, DPM, FACFAS, author of Ask the Foot Doctor, adds that women experience up to four times more foot pain than men. “That’s in large part because fluctuating estrogen levels as women get older can weaken ligaments in the foot.”

Aging, and the natural tendency to put on a few pounds as we do so, also plays a role. Not only do the natural “shock absorbers” (or fat pads) on the balls of our feet thin as we get older, for every pound we weigh, 1.5 pounds of pressure is exerted on the foot, says Dr. Tumen. So for a 175 lb. woman, every step feels like 263 pounds of pressure. (Sometimes, foot pain can be triggered by hip issues and toenail trouble. See the best exercises for uneven hips and how to remove an ingrown toenail.)

The best insoles for plantar fasciitis and more

Before splurging on a pair of custom orthotics, consider this: “It pays to first try cheaper remedies like inserts, as they’re often as effective as expensive orthopedic footwear,” notes Dr. Levine. The proof: A review of 20 plantar fasciitis studies in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds drugstore inserts keep foot pain at bay just as well as a pricy Rx version. Here, the best insoles for everything from plantar fasciitis to heel pain. (Tip: The right insoles can even ward off sweaty feet!)

3 easy ways to soothe plantar fasciitis pain

When foot pain strikes, you want speedy relief. These natural remedies quash plantar fasciitis heel aches quickly and effectively.

1. Try a towel stretch

Sit on the floor, legs extended in front of you, then loop a towel under the sole of your foot. Keep your body and leg straight and slowly pull the towel toward you. Hold for 10 seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 times, three times daily. Why it works? People with plantar fasciitis often have tight Achilles tendons, which start in the calves and extend to the heels, says Dr. Levine. Stretching this tendon can eliminate the pain, plus ease inflammation in the plantar fascia.

In fact, research out of the University of Rochester School of Medicine suggests the simple technique tamps down pain for 94% of folks who practice it daily. Indeed, when interviewed two years after learning the stretch, 92% of study participants reported their plantar fasciitis had been cured or nearly cured. Tip: This stretch is best done first thing in the morning before getting out of bed, since putting your feet to the ground can suddenly overstretch fascia that have tightened overnight.

2. Smooth on olive oil

You know how relaxing giving yourself a foot massage feels, especially when you have plantar fasciitis. Add a dab of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) before you rub and research in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology suggests you’ll relieve pain more effectively than piroxicam, one of the most commonly-prescribed topical NSAIDs for plantar fasciitis. A compound called oleocanthal in EVOO inhibits pain-triggering inflammatory enzymes (COX-1 and COX-2) the same way NSAIDs do, but without the drugs’ side effects. To do: Warm ¼ tsp. of olive oil between the palms of your hands then massage from the balls of your feet to your heels for 5 minutes. (Extra EVOO leftover? Click through to learn how to whip up a trendy olive oil coffee.)

A bottle of olive oil being poured into a glass bowl with olives

3. Roll your feet on a cold water bottle

As you kick back to read or watch TV before bed, roll a frozen bottle of water back-and-forth on the floor with the bottom of your foot, focusing on the heel and arch. Loma Linda University research suggests 20 minutes of the cooling technique before bed reduces next-day plantar fasciitis pain by 58%. Indeed, cold before bed offered the greatest reduction in pain of any method the researchers tested, even shrinking the thickness of the inflamed plantar fasciitis connective tissue that produces pain. To do: Fill two water bottles no more than 2/3 full and place in the freezer. Sit in a chair and roll your feet over the frozen bottles.

The best insoles for plantar fasciitis and more

Keep scrolling to shop our picks for the best insoles for plantar fasciitis and other foot aches, so you can make every step pain-free!

PowerStep Pinnacle Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis

Best insoles for plantar fasciitis
PowerStep Pinnacle Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis

Buy from Amazon, $44.96

Why we like it:

  • Dual-layer support
  • Cushioned from heel to toe
  • Odor control top fabric reduces friction and perspiration

No matter if your plantar fasciitis manifests as a dull ache or stabbing pain, PowerStep Pinnacle Insoles can provide immediate relief. “I find this to be one of the most well-made over-the-counter inserts available,” Dr Tumen says. “It fits well in shoes, it is designed to give good support, holds up well and most people find it super comfortable as soon as they put it on.” It’s deep heel cradle also adds comfort and stability when you’re on the move.

BraceAbility Heel Spur Cups Medical-Grade Silicone Plantar Fasciitis Insole

Best overall insoles for plantar fasciitis heel pain
BraceAbility Heel Spur Cups

Buy from Amazon, $29.99

Why we like it

  • Medical-grade silicone
  • Evenly distributes pressure
  • Fits in any shoe, include dress shoots and boots

“No study has shown that $500 custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis are any better than these simple silicone heel cushions,” says Clifford Jeng, MD, FAAOS, Medical Director at The Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. They slip into any shoe and provide extra cushion at the heel, where plantar fasciitis pain is most pronounced. Plus they’re shock-absorbing and hand washable.

PROFOOT Triad Orthotic Insoles for Knee, Leg & Back Pain

Best insoles for foot and leg pain
PROFOOT Triad Orthotic Insoles for Knee, Leg & Back Pain

Buy from Walmart, $6.83

Why we like it

  • 3 targeted support zones
  • Three quarter length

Foot pain is bad enough, but adding leg pain on top of it is a double whammy. The fix? PROFOOT Triad Orthotic Insoles, which have three different target zones: balls of your feet, arches and heels. Targeting these spots with extra cushioning helps relieve foot, leg and even back pain, all in one insert.

Superfeet All-Purpose High Impact Support Insoles Orange

Best insoles for standing all day
Superfeet Orange

Buy from Amazon, $54.97

Why we like it

  • Distributes pressure evenly
  • Can be trimmed to size

If your work or daily routine requires you to be on your feet all day, a custom insole can help. “Standard insoles that come with most shoes are very flat and have minimal contact with the sole of the foot,” explains Dr. Jeng. “All super feet insoles are contoured to match the shape of your foot to maximize contact between the insole and your foot.” This adds extra support and comfort to carry you through go-go-go days. Your tired feet will thank you!

Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Arch Support Shoe Insoles

Best insoles for walking
Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Arch Support Shoe Insoles

Buy from Amazon, $22.65

Why we like it

  • 4-way stretch fabric prevents blisters
  • Lightweight and shock absorbing

Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer insoles can make each stride comfortable, whether you’re walking one mile or 10. “These insoles have extra cushioning under the heel and ball of foot to decrease impact during long walks,” explains Dr. Jeng. Another smart pick from the same brand: the Spenco Rx Comfort insole (Buy from Amazon, $13.39). “They just feel good under the feet and supply a good combination of cushioning and support,” Dr. Tumen says.

Superfeet Run Support Medium Arch Insoles

Best insoles for running
Superfeet Run Support Medium Arch Insoles

Buy from Amazon, $44.87

Why we like it:

  • Thin to easily slip into any running shoe
  • Available in custom arch support
  • Can be trimmed to size

Running is a great stress reliever, but each stride can be agonizing when you have foot pain. Superfeet Run Support insoles can ease the ache and put the pep back into your step. “They’re thin so they fit into running shoes easily, replacing the standard insoles,” Dr Jeng explains. And as Dr. Tumen notes, “They provide excellent support and hold up well to the shock of running.” They come in low, medium and high arch versions, which means you can choose the perfect insole for your feet. Bonus: They can be trimmed to size, guaranteeing a perfect fit in any shoe.

Physix Gear Plantar Fasciitis Feet Insoles

Best insoles for hiking
Physix Gear Plantar Fasciitis Feet Insoles
Physix Gear/Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $9.32

Why we like it

  • Stiff and supportive
  • Under $10

Physix Gear’s Sport Full Length Orthotic Inserts with Arch Support are great all-around insoles, but they’re a must if you’re a hiker with foot pain. They’re a bit stiffer than your average insole, meaning they’ll stabilize your foot no matter what kind of bumpy terrain you’re trekking over.

Dr. Scholl’s Stylish Step High Heel Relief Insoles

Best insoles for high heels
Dr. Scholl’s Stylish Step High Heel Relief Insoles
Dr. Scholl’s/Walmart

Buy from Walmart, $14.21

Why we like it

  • Helps soothe pain from bunions
  • Clear for invisibility
  • Slim profile fits in any shoe

High heels that are tight and pinch your toes are a common cause of foot pain and bunions. While we probably can’t convince you to give them up for good, we can recommend a supportive insole like Dr. Scholl’s High Heel Relief Insoles. These clear gel orthotics are slim so they won’t squeeze your toes. Most importantly, they take some of the pressure off the balls of your feet to ease discomfort. “While I don’t recommend wearing high heels, the Dr. Scholl’s gel insoles do offer some cushioning,” Dr. Tumen notes.

FootScientific Arches Type 3 High Arch Orthotic Shoe Insoles

Best insoles for high arches
FootScientific Arches Type 3 (High Arch) Orthotic Shoe Insoles

Buy from Amazon, $72

Why we like it

  • Form Correcting Molded Cork
  • Heel Stabilizing Padded Foam

High arches can cause foot and ankle instability, upping your risk of foot pain. To stop trouble before it starts, slip these insoles into your favorite pair of shoes. “These inserts have a wedge under the heel, also known as a lateral post, that corrects supination,” Dr. Jeng explains. This is when your feet don’t roll inward enough as you walk and instead are less flexible or lean outward. “It also has a depression under the first metatarsal head [the base of your big toe] to accommodate people with higher arches due to a plantar flexed first metatarsal.” 

Aetrex Women’s L420 Compete Posted Orthotics

Best insoles for flat feet
Aetrex Women's Compete Posted Orthotics

Buy from Aetrex, $64.95

Why we like it

  • Moisture-wicking, antimicrobial material
  • Prevents blisters

Flat feet, or fallen arches, is a condition that occurs when you have little to no arch. This can lead to discomfort in your arch and heel area. Luckily, the Aetrex L420 insoles can ease the ache. “People with flat feet are pronators, making their heel turn outward while the ankle appears to roll inward,” Dr. Jeng explains. “The L420’s have a medial post or wedge under the heel that realigns the heel back into a neutral position,” correcting the underlying cause of heel and arch pain.

Correct Toes Toe Spacers

Best healers for bunions
Correct Toes Toe Spacers
Correct Toes

Buy from Correct Toes, $65

Why we like it

  • Can be worn in shoes or while barefoot
  • Strengthens feet with every step

Notice a painful bump on the outer edge of your big toe? It’s likely a bunion, which forms when your big toe starts leaning in toward your other toes and the toe join bulges out. To quash the ache, Dr. Tumen recommends Correct Toes Toe Spacers. “Small muscles inside the foot can be strengthened and pain diminished with quality toe spacers,” explains. By separating the toes, you restore their proper alignment and ease the ache. The best part: These separators can be worn while barefoot, in socks or in your favorite pair of wide shoes.

For more of our favorite plantar fasciitis products to shop:

14 Best Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

33 Best Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis in 2023 That You’ll Love Wearing

22 Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis That Women Are Buying Over and Over

For one woman’s story of healing through shoes:

“A Pair of Stylish Flip Flops Finally Healed My Painful Plantar Fasciitis!”

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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