These Are The Best Insoles For Heel Pain, According To A Podiatrist

by Marshall Bright
vladimirfloyd / Fotolia

Heel pain can make it feel like a relatively small part of your body is affecting your entire life. Standing and walking can become painful, and the problem can worsen if not treated. Insoles, which can provide support and relief for your foot, are one way to help treat the issues. But the best insole for heel pain for you should reflect the cause of your pain, and not all heel pain is the same, explains Dr. Doug Tumen, DPM, a specialist at Hudson Valley Foot Associates and author of Ask The Foot Doctor, in an interview with Bustle.

Accroding to Dr. Tumen, one leading cause of heel pain is plantar fasciitis, and it affects between 2 to 3 million Americans annually. An inflammation of the tissues connecting your heel to the ball of your foot, it can cause intense heel pain for sufferers. For that, the best insoles for heel pain will offer a lot of support to not only help with the pain but address underlying causes in how you walk and stand. If your pain comes from a heel bruise, on the other hand, you will want a softer insert mostly for cushioning.

While the causes of heel pain varies, Dr. Tumen also explains that many have the same root cause: concrete. “Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers living on soil and grass,” Dr. Tumen explains. By contrast, today, we are walking on hard surfaces most of the time, whether at work, shopping, or even working out. “The heel bone takes the initial brunt and impact of each step,” Dr. Tumen continues.

Better shoes with more cushioning are often a first defense, but insoles can greatly improve cushioning and support. Injury or pain can easily occur with any combination of overuse or poor support, another reason insoles are a good choice. Dr. Tumen also adds that heal pain can be alleviated by icing it, daily stretches, and oral anti-inflammatories as needed. Dr. Tumen especially recommends avoiding being barefoot as much as possible, opting for cushioning, supportive shoes and, if necessary, inserts. It is best to see a doctor to address your specific needs and treatment therapy, as well.

However, inserts can often be one of the leading suggestions for treating and relieving pain. See the best picks for different types of pain below:


The Best Insoles For Arch Support

One of the leading causes of heel pain is plantar fasciitis. And one of the causes of plantar fasciitis, Dr. Tumen says, is pronation, or the foot and ankle rolling inwards. Inserts with arch support can help correct your foot and ankle to actually treat the source of the pain, not just alleviate it. Superfeet Green inserts provide strong arch support to prevent pronation. Because they primarily are designed for support and not cushioning, however, these won’t help with heel pain from impact in shoes without much cushioning. Because the arch support gives these a high profile, they are best in shoes like sneakers and boots, not flats or slides.

  • Sizes: Women’s 6.5 to 12.5+, Men’s 5.5-17, Juniors


The Best Cushioning Arch Support

If you want arch support with additional gel support and cushioning, consider Dr. Scholl’s plantar fasciitis orthotics. The arch support isn’t as high as with the Superfeet, but still provide you with support to prevent pronation. Additionally, the heel comes with a shock-absorbing heel cup to help reduce the shock of movement and help soothe the pins-and-needles pain of plantar fasciitis.

  • Sizes: OS for men and OS for women, trim to fit


The Best Inserts For Cushioning

If you have heel pain from bone spurs or an impact injury, you might not need extra arch support but should go for something that is cushioning and will absorb the shock from walking and standing, says Dr. Tumen. These gel heel cups don’t add arch support but will make standing, running, and walking less painful on your heels. The gel also helps redistribute pressure evenly. Or, if you already have arch support and are looking for an added heel boost, this is a great pick because of its shape and size. They are also good for putting into shoes that might need a little more comfort regardless, like dress shoes or flats.

  • Sizes: Women’s 4.5 - 13.5, Men’s 6 - 13


The Best Arch Support For Dress Shoes

Like the top pick, this offers firm arch support. Because it is a heel cup, not full insole, they are also good for placing into dress shoes or any other shoe that might have difficulty accommodating a full insert. The manufacturer says they are good for any shoe with a firm back. The firm rubber may take some time to get used to, however. That is because a bar inside the insole actually gives the foot itself constant pressure, helping correct both the pronation and inflammation as a result of pronation.

  • Sizes: Women's S, M, L and Men's S, M, L, XL


Also Great: A Heel Wrap For Going Barefoot

While wearing shoes as much as possible is advised by Dr. Tumen, this is a great option to hang around the house in without worrying about taking shoes on and off every time you get off the couch. The soft neoprene fabric provides thick cushioning as well as arch support when worn. Like with their inserts, this Heel That Pain seat wrap also helps relieve underlying inflammation as well. These can also be worn with shoes.

  • Sizes: 3 sizes (S, M, L) starting at women’s 6.5 to a men’s 15

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