People with “average” feet are lucky to not have to think much about shoe shopping beyond pondering styles and colors (okay, price too!), but those of us with stubborn foot issues can splurge on high-tech, walking-friendly sneakers and still suffer from foot pain. Sometimes special insoles can help, though. For example, if you have high arches, flat feet, or plantar fasciitis, arch support insoles can give you relief while walking and running.
The first rule of wearing arch support insoles is to make sure you truly need them. As Dr. Frances J. Lagana, podiatrist at UMass Memorial Health, explains, “Many times a patient's problem is not because they need arch supports; it's more because they are wearing the wrong shoes or the wrong size shoes. It's essential to have the correct fitting shoe before even talking about getting arch supports.”
To confirm your shoe size, Dr. Lagana recommends getting measured at a brick-and-mortar store. “Over 40 percent of adults in the United States—and I was one of them—are wearing the wrong size shoe,” she says.
Dr. Lagana suggests seeing a podiatrist before buying insoles, because wearing the wrong type can make your foot problems worse. Also, skip the drugstore. “The items that you get at Walmart or CVS are never going to be able to address your problems,” she says.
Dr. Lagana shared a few key basics for using arch support insoles: Buy insoles that are full length, wear them in both shoes, and remove existing insoles from athletic shoes first.
Try one of these 10 arch support insoles, and your feet will thank you.
Best arch support insoles
Superfeet is a well-known brand among runners, and Dr. Lagana recommends it as a good choice for arch support insoles. These insoles are specifically designed for a woman’s foot (many insoles are unisex) and reduce stress on your feet, ankles, and knees by providing stability and support. They’re made for high-impact activities and can withstand long distances.
Pros: Wide size range (women’s 4.5–12), and odor control.
Cons: Pricier than some, and need to be cut to size.
W+G editors are big fans of Fulton’s cork insoles, thanks to their shock-absorbing support and sustainable design. Each insole features three thoughtful layers for better alignment and comfort on your feet: a cactus leather top layer (for eco-friendly cushion), an antimicrobial mid-layer (that’s made from sustainable foam, too) and that cork bottom (that molds to your feet in about 10 hours of wear time.)
Pros: Sustainable. Affordable. Customizable, thanks to the cork.
Cons: The cork is a little tough to break in at first. The insole height also tends to work better with deeper shoes.
Recommended by Dr. Lagana as a quality option, this brand has been around forever (well, since 1967), and these particular insoles have almost 4,000 5-star reviews. They have enough cushioning—including for the forefoot and heel—to provide shock absorption for high-impact sports, and their 4-way stretch fabric prevents blisters.
Pros: Wide size range (women’s 5–12.5), and odor control.
Cons: The insole heel height may raise your feet too much for lower-profile shoes.
These arch support insoles provide moderate support for walking and running in all sorts of footwear, including hiking boots, everyday shoes, and work shoes. The company claims that the insoles can correct overpronation (feet rolling inward when you move) and relieve heel and ball-of-foot pain, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendinitis. (If you suspect you have one of these conditions, it’s best to see a podiatrist.)
Pros: Non-slip surface, moisture-wicking technology, and wide size range (women’s 6–15.5).
Cons: Reviewers say it takes some time to adjust to the round support in the middle.
Insoles from PowerStep—”the #1 podiatrist-recommended brand of orthotic insoles”—are designed by a podiatrist and made in the US. The two-layer cushioning limits stress on your feet, joints, and tendons while providing comfort and support. They’re compatible with walking and running shoes, work shoes, and some casual and dress shoes, and they come in women’s sizes 5–12.
Pros: 12,000 5-star ratings, anti-microbial top layer, and trimming typically not required.
Cons: Some reviewers say these are too thick for some shoes.
These insoles feature extra deep heel cups to cushion your foot naturally, carbon fiber material for strong support, and special “foot strike pads” that give maximum shock absorption. They’re compatible with athletic, hiking, casual, and dress shoes (if they have removable insoles) and are available in women’s sizes 5.5–12.5.
Pros: Very durable, and latex-free (a bonus if you have a latex allergy, at least!).
Cons: Some reviewers aren’t fans of the metatarsal pad in the insole.
Many arch support insoles don’t offer any choices for widths—so if you wear wide shoes, these insoles from New Balance are for you! (A medium-width version is also available.) They’re specifically designed to be thin enough to fit in slim-fitting shoes, as opposed to a range of footwear like many other insoles. Plus, they’re designed with Superfeet insole technology (see above).
Pros: Wide size range (women’s 4.5–12), moisture-wicking top layer, and odor control.
Cons: A few reviewers disliked the deep heel cup.
Sorbothane is another of Dr. Lagana’s recommended insole brands that are available online. These insoles were created for “highly active” people and are made in the States. They’re compatible with athletic, casual, and dress shoes and are designed to provide relief for Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, arch pain and strain, flat feet, overpronation, supination, shin splints, and bunions. (If you suspect these, a podiatrist visit is a smart move.)
Pros: Non-slip surface, up to 94.7 percent shock absorption, and a “60-day wear test guarantee.”
Cons: Pricier than some.
Yes, Birkenstock doesn’t just make love-’em-or-hate-’em sandals, but insoles, too! Made in Germany, these arch support insoles are meant for athletic shoes and are made with a shock-absorbing top layer and extra cushioning for the ball of the foot. As it’s a Birkenstock product, it’s not surprising that the design contains cork—more specifically, their own “BirkoCork” (cork and EVA foam).
Pros: Wide size range (women’s 4–13.5), hand-washable with light detergent, and can wear both pieces or just one.
Cons: Pricier than some.
These arch support insoles have one key difference from the others on our list: They’re made from leather. Handmade in Germany, they are relatively thin and are designed for flats and low-heeled shoes. The leather is vegetable tanned (rather than synthetically treated), the adhesives are water-based and skin-friendly, and no solvents are used. (Leather production solvents are harmful to the environment and also to workers.)
Pros: Self-adhesive; reviewers say they helped them “hike 12 miles without pain,” “walk all over D.C.,” and … dance the Argentine tango.
Cons: A few reviewers disliked the lack of metatarsal support.
These lightweight, three-quarter-length insoles work well with athletic shoes, casual shoes (including canvas), dress shoes, and work shoes. They’re designed to relieve pain and reduce fatigue during both exercise and everyday activities, and the deep heel cup helps stabilize and balance your foot.
Pros: More than 4,000 5-star reviews, very affordable, and anti-slip.
Cons: Some women reviewers say they wish the insoles were narrower.
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