The 7 Best Insoles For Every Foot Problem

Remember that catchy mirror scene in Mean Girls, when the infamous Plastics scowl at their reflections and lament their least favorite body parts? Regina George hates her huge pores, Gretchen Wieners weeps at her weird hairline, and Karen Smith says her nail beds suck. (And let’s not forget Cady Heron, who bemoans her really bad breath in the morning).

If I were a Mean Girl and could find fault with one feature, it would definitely be my penguin-wide feet.

Sure, those webbed toes pitter-pattering through the snow are called “Happy Feet” when they belong to the arctic birds – but in my case, my impossibly wide hooves aren’t doing any dancing, and they certainly can’t squeeze comfortably into most mainstream walking shoes

But wait, the plot thickens. Not only are my feet of such gargantuan width that shoe shopping becomes a nightmare, but last week a podiatrist added a new damning adjective to the mix: “You have flat feet,” he stated confidently.

You see, I’ve been grappling with severe foot pain for the last few months – secondary to an acute running injury I sustained in May – and after seeing a sports doctor who shrugged his shoulders and prescribed indefinite patience, I decided to seek a second opinion. A foot-and-ankle specialist seemed the logical next step.

The new doctor furrowed his brow, twisted my left foot in all sorts of contortions, then delivered the diagnosis that my feet had fallen arches. When I was younger and more durable, he said, I could get away with leaving them alone – but as my aging body (shudder) was becoming more injury-prone, I’d need to fix my feet.

“Not…surgery?” I asked timidly, preparing for the worst. No, I wouldn’t have to go under the knife, he reassured me, as I let out a sigh of relief. What I would need to do, he explained, is follow the lead of a large percentage of people with foot ailments: invest in a good pair of insoles, or orthotics, to provide extra arch support.

What Are Insoles, And Who Needs Them?

“Insoles are special devices that you can use inside your shoes,” explains Alissa Kuizinas, D.P.M., a board-certified podiatrist specializing in functional foot health. “There are many types of insoles, ranging from custom orthotics that are made by a physician to over-the-counter arch support insoles, and finally flat insoles and sensory insoles,” she says. 

arc support insole

And it’s not just active, flat-footed adults like myself who can benefit from wearing insoles, Dr. Kuizinas says. People with all sorts of specific foot problems can find relief from wearing insoles, whether in the long or shorter term. “Typically, those with severe hyperpronation, arthritis, or genetic conditions that affect the feet will need insoles, whether custom or over the counter, for the long term,” Dr. Kuizinas explains. People with more acute foot pain, such as in cases of plantar fasciitis, may only need to wear insoles temporarily, she says.

Not dealing with foot pain or other frustrating foot problems? According to Dr. Kuizinas, even people with healthy, happy feet can find it helpful to wear insoles. “Other types of insoles, such as sensory insoles, can help with improving foot awareness, balance, and increasing foot strength for overall foot health. These types of insoles are great for anyone, but especially those with any sensory loss of neurologic issues,” she notes. 

Which Insole Is Right For You?

In my case, the decision of which insole to buy was a simple one – my podiatrist handed me a paper and pointed to his favorite product for flat feet (the Powerstep ProTech Control Full-Length Support, in case you were wondering). But if your foot problems don’t quite warrant a new visit to the doctor’s office, there are some basic guidelines you can follow to choose the best over-the-counter insole for your needs.

Seeking temporary relief from foot pain like plantar fasciitis? “Look for an insole with a defined arch that feels comfortable and that has some stiffness and structure to it,” Dr. Kuizinas recommends. “Usually soft, very flexible insoles are not as effective at relieving pain,” she says. But don’t depend on these insoles for stubborn pain that persists in the long term as “they will ultimately weaken the foot muscles and lead to reliance on the insole,” Dr. Kuizinas warns.

Seeking extra cushioning to stuff in your stylish-but-stifling dress shoes? “I would look for a thin, flat insole that fits well into the desired shoe,” she recommends. A thin, flat, and well-fitting sensory insole is also the best choice if you’re looking for something to stimulate your feet and improve overall posture, balance, and strength.

If you have abnormal arches or pronation issues like me, your best bet is to seek recommendations from a medical professional, says Dave Candy, P.T., D.P.T., a doctor of physical therapy and athletic trainer. But once you’ve received a diagnosis, there are a few general guidelines to keep in mind, he says. 

“For a flat foot or one that overpronates, you need an orthotic that offers a balance between supporting the foot and controlling excessive pronation (foot flattening) while not being so hard or firm that it makes it uncomfortable to wear,” Dr. Candy explains. “For a high-arch foot or one that under-pronates, you need a softer, high-arch orthotic that fills the gap underneath the arch while still being soft enough to provide cushioning and absorb shock,” he says.

The Best Insoles On The Market

Whether you’re a dedicated runner, a weekend warrior on the hiking trails, or you simply spend a lot of time standing during the day, the right insoles can literally take a load off your feet. Feeling eager to find your sole-mate but overwhelmed by all the options? We asked the experts for their most trusted recommendations. Here are our podiatrist-approved picks for every pain-free purpose:

Best Insoles For Everyday Use: Powerstep Original Insoles

Powerstep Original Insoles
These polyester insoles feature moderate cushioning and neutral arch support to improve foot function and stability during your everyday activities.


Best Insoles For Plantar Fasciitis: Powerstep ProTech Control Pro Insoles

best insoles for plantar fasciitis
Seeking temporary relief from foot pain like plantar fasciitis? The Powerstep Pros are clinically designed with a deep heel cup, strong arch firmness, and dual-layer cushion to alleviate arch pain, heel spurs, and other soreness.


Best Insoles For Moderate Activity: Soft Sole Insoles Unisex FIT Support Full-Length Foam Shoe Inserts

Soft Sole Insoles Unisex FIT Support Full-Length

These full-length insoles feature high-rebound foam density and a deep heel cup to support your arches during moderately strenuous activity like walking, hiking, and cross-training.

SHOP ON AMAZON – $32.13-$47.60

Best Insoles For High Performance: Sof Sole Women’s AIRR Performance Full-Length Gel Shoe Insert

Sof Sole Women’s AIRR Performance Shoe Insert

Looking for a shock-absorbing insole to support high performance? These inserts are designed with gel, a COOLMAX fabric top, and Skydex air bubbles to absorb impact and provide cushioning during running and sports.

SHOP ON AMAZON – $31-$34.99

Best Insoles For Hard Surfaces: Dr. Scholl’s Work Massaging Gel Advanced Insoles

Dr. Scholl’s Work Massaging Gel Advanced Insoles
If you work on hard surfaces and are prone to fatigue in your feet, choose these massaging-gel insoles with all-day shock absorption to re-energize your stride.


Best Insoles For Foot Stimulation: Naboso Activation Insoles

Naboso Activation Insoles
Are your feet always falling asleep? These activation insoles feature a mid-level stimulation of your nerves to wake up and strengthen your feet, especially if you’re standing all day.


Best Insoles For Sensitive Feet: New Balance Casual Therapeutic

New Balance Casual Therapeutic
These insoles feature therapeutic foam to provide pressure relief for sensitive feet – and the hypo-allergenic materials are gentle on sensitive skin!



Do you suffer from foot pain or discomfort? Have you found relief from wearing insoles? Let us know in the comments!

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