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Anyone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis knows it can be incredibly painful. It can also be a stubborn nuisance that can hold you back from life’s activities. Many say it feels like a repetitive stabbing motion along the bottom of the foot (ouch). And if a Google search brought you to this article, chances are you or someone you know has plantar fasciitis.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, one in every ten Americans suffer from it. But where does it come from, what exactly is it and how can you prevent it? Unfortunately, there isn’t a ton of research on the causes of this common type of foot pain, but one way to help alleviate any symptoms is to invest in the best insoles for plantar fasciitis. The extra cushion and support can make living with plantar fasciitis a lot more manageable.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis is when the tough, fibrous band of tissue (otherwise known as fascia) that connects the heel bone to the base of your toes becomes inflamed. It usually starts as a gradual pain that feels like a bruise that worsens over time, and is typically noticed right after you get up in the morning or after sitting for awhile. According to FootcareMD.com, if you don’t treat plantar fasciitis right away, it can turn into a chronic condition that leads to symptoms in the foot, knee, hip and back.
How to Find the Best Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis
When shopping for over-the-counter insoles to help combat the symptoms of plantar fasciitis, NYC-based podiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Sutera says to look for features like a deep seated heel cup, arch support and a thicker cushioned sole.
“These help to reduce inflammation and pain by neutralizing your arch and decreasing overpronation, all while offering support and cushion,” she told FN.
Minnesota-based podiatrist Dr. Paul Langer, DPM says firm, arch-supporting insoles are your friend. While it may sound counterintuitive, firm insoles relieve strain on the plantar fascia better than soft, flexible alternatives. This is because a firm insole supports the arch better and can withstand the forces of walking and running — which, according to Dr. Langer, approaches 1.5 times bodyweight and 3 times bodyweight, respectively, on every step.
“I always explain to my patients that plantar fasciitis is not an impact problem, it’s a strain problem,” he said. “The plantar fascia does not get injured when the heel hits the ground; it gets injured as the strain through the plantar fascia increases as the heel lifts. So, supporting the arch is more beneficial than just cushioning the heel.”
While it’s important to note that more severe cases of plantar fasciitis require a custom orthotic, there are a handful of over-the-counter insoles that can work wonders and even reverse early-to-mild stages of this condition. We took a deep dive into researching the best insoles for plantar fasciitis, narrowing it down to 10 products you can buy now.
Whether you’re new to this condition or replacing an old pair that didn’t quite do it for you, this guide to the best insoles for plantar fasciitis can help you find relief. In fact, Dr. Sutera notes it’s crucial to replace your insoles if they’re worn out. On average, she says insoles should be replaced every 12 to 18 months. But, “look for signs of wear such as peeling, flattening, or holes,” she explained, “which could mean it’s time to replace them sooner.”
Take a look at the shopping guide ahead.
ViveSole Silicone Gel Heel Cups
Best Heel Cups
Sometimes a simple heel cup is all you need to kick out the pain of plantar fasciitis. If you’re going the heel cup route, consider ViveSole’s silicone gel heel cup inserts. The shock-absorbing gel creates an even distribution of weight to eliminate pain and improve alignment. It’s a subtle yet efficient change that can go a long way if you experience slight pain from PF. One notable feature that sets these apart is that they can be slipped into most footwear. From dress shoes to boots, sneakers and even some heels, a small heel cup is a good place to start in creating a more comfortable stride. They can be worn with or without socks and will remain odorless and cool.
SuperFeet Unisex Green Insoles
Superfeet leads the charge of combatting, reversing and preventing the wrath of plantar fasciitis. These insoles from the brand are made from high density foam, comparable that of a firm luxury pillow. Superfeet insoles are special because they check off all boxes podiatrists recommend to help soothe and correct alignment: a high arch insole as well as a deep cap and wide, deep heel cup to stabilize the feet. Plus, they’re made with a natural, anti-odor and anti-bacterial material to keep them smelling fresh.
Powerstep Pinnacle Breeze
Best for Working Out
You won’t find a “best insoles for plantar fasciitis” roundup without the Powerstep Pinnacle Breeze. They offer the perfect combination of semi-rigid arch support for stability and motion control with dual-layer shock absorption cushioning that provides energy for both low- and high-impact movement. The moderate cushion provides lasting comfort for plantar fasciitis pain. These get bonus points as the best insoles for working out thanks to their ventilated mesh top fabric to keep feet sweat- and odor-free. This feature simultaneously massages the foot with each step.
Spenco Total Support Max Shoe
Best for Walking
The most notable benefit of Spenco’s Total Support Max shoe inserts is that they drastically offload weight from the ball of the foot, equalizing distribution. Over time, this trains your body’s alignment and walking patterns and can reverse the symptoms of plantar fasciitis. These insoles are made with a 3D modulation system that encourages more natural strides, instead of just providing instant comfort. As Dr. Langer noted, it’s important to go for a firm design to shift your body’s weight when walking. These feature an extra-rigid cradle to lock promote proper arch placement. They might take a few spins to get used to, which is why we recommend them for walking. You should be able to break them in in no time, however, and blissfully feel the pain of PF disperse.
Footminders Comfort Supportive Arch Support Insoles
Best for Standing on Your Feet All Day
There’s nothing worse than having a job that requires you to be on your feet all day and suffering from plantar fasciitis. But of course, people that do stand all day are typically more prone to this painful condition.
These insoles from Footminders provide consistent arch support that stays perky for hours on end.
Dr. Scholl’s Plantar Fasciitis Orthotics
Best Budget Pick
For under $15, you can’t beat the price of Dr. Scholl’s plantar Ffsciitis orthotics. They provide a special gel-like cushion in the heel that brings instant relief with no break-in time necessary. Included arch support prevents the plantar fascia from stretching further while the full-foot cushion enhances comfort. These also feature a contoured, deep heel cup, which is recommended by various podiatrists for keeping the heel stable. They’re meant to replace your shoe’s current insole and can be trimmed to fit any foot and shoe.
EasyFeet Plantar Fasciitis Shoe Inserts
Best for Running
For runners with plantar fasciitis, you can’t go for a generic insert. You’ve got to think about the constant strike of each stride, along with the potential for your foot to get very sweaty.
EasyFeet’s insoles are a great solution. While they’re technically made for any activity, many runners rave about how these insoles have helped improved their performance by lessening both pain and fatigue. They use an athletic, gel-like cushion that remains hard-wearing as you move and offer high arch support to lock the foot in place. What’s more, the cushioning is also breathable, while the insole includes overall airy materials to further prevent sweat buildup.
Vionic Supportive Relief Orthotics
Best for Realignment
Vionic is a household name when it comes to best-in-class footwear for your health, so it’s not surprising their insoles are receiving five-star reviews on repeat. These shoe inserts are made to realign the lower body, not just prevent pain and provide comfort (although they do that too). You’ll find arch-hugging comfort and a stable heel cup that supports your body’s natural alignment from the ground up. Users note that their pain lessened and posture improved after a few weeks wearing and breaking these in. The insoles are designed to replace the existing footbed in your shoe and be trimmed to fit anything from a sneaker to a work boot.
Walk Hero Plantar Fasciitis Insoles
Over 47,000 people rave about these insoles, many saying they’re a game-changer for people who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
“In a couple of months, I’ve gone from only being able to hobble short distances painfully to being able to hike several miles again,” commented one reviewer. “My wife was having problems with her feet too, so I bought her a pair and she can now also walk pain-free. If, like me, you’re suffering from PF, I doubt you’ll find a better product.”
These insoles can be placed in just about any shoe, providing the perfect balance between comfort and support. The deep heel cup helps maintain correct foot positioning and protects the heel during heavy impact from walking or running. The arch support keeps alignment in check, while the EVA material provides a cushioned, stabilizing feel.
Samurai Plantar Fasciitis Insoles
The Samurai plantar fasciitis insoles feature a supportive yet flexible orthotic core that provides a springy and responsive feel all day long. And even though they’re roomier other options on our list to accomodate larger feet, they still offer a slim, low- profile design. Essentially, you’ll get the support you need without sacrificing too much real estate in your shoe.