7 Different Types of Insoles - Shoerazzi (2023)

7 Different Types of Insoles - Shoerazzi (1)

Finding the perfect fit when shoe shopping can be a near-impossible task. Most shoes are made with little built-in support, which can take a toll on your feet, ankles, and even your back. Adding insoles to your shoes can help to make them more comfortable and give you the support that you need as you go about your day. Here, we’re going to go over the different types of insoles and how they can help you to find relief from foot-related pain.


  • 1 What is an Insole?
  • 2 What to Look for in an Insole
  • 3 Athletic Insoles
  • 4 Insulating Insoles
  • 5 Moldable Insoles
  • 6 Cushioned Insoles
  • 7 Heavy-Duty Insoles
  • 8 High Heel Insoles
  • 9 Kids’ Insoles
  • 10 High Arch Insoles
  • 11 Magnetic Insoles

What is an Insole?

An insole is a contoured insert that you can add to your shoe to improve the fit. You can also use certain insoles to help insulate your feet in cold weather, or as a way to promote airflow and keep your shoe deodorized.

Insoles, also known as footbeds or inner soles, are most often removable so that you can slip them in and out of different shoes with ease. The can cover part or all of the bottom of your shoe to give you better support and stability.

While some people use insoles daily, others only wear inserts to improve athletic performance. Improving the fit of your shoe can help to give you better comfort and more power during activities such as running, cycling, and playing sports.

Insert vs. Insole vs. Orthotics

You may have heard insoles referred to as inserts or orthotics. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they all have a slightly different meaning.

Inserts and insoles are often available over-the-counter and can be found in just about any pharmacy. You don’t need a prescription from a doctor to buy these, but you may want to seek out the advice of a specialist before trying to self-correct any foot pain issues.

Shoe inserts target a specific area of the foot instead of covering the entire sole. They allow you to focus on problem areas without accidentally affecting other parts of the foot.

Heel cups are designed to help with heel pain by offering cushioning and shock absorption. Heel lifts, on the other hand, help with calf and ankle pain by raising the heel and taking the pressure off of these areas.

Metatarsal pads are placed towards the front of the shoe, just behind the ball of the foot. They can be particularly useful for people who are seeking relief from the pain associated with Morton’s neuroma. Women in heels may also benefit from these pads. They can help to take some of the pressure off the ball of the foot.

Insoles, unlike inserts, tend to cover the full length of the shoe. Instead of targeting a particular area, they offer to cushion to the entire foot and help to support the arch. Insoles can be stiff or flexible, depending on whether you’re looking for more support or more comfort. Many are one-size-fits-all, but some insole varieties offer precision sizing.

Orthotics, unlike inserts and insoles, are custom-made to fit a particular foot. They have to be prescribed by a doctor and constructed using a one-off mold.

Custom orthotics help not only to alleviate pain but also to correct problems with your feet or your gait. They’re often rigid or semi-rigid to offer the maximum level of support to the arch and the heel while limiting ankle movement.

Functional orthotics are the most common type of prescription insole. These orthotics are designed to help eliminate abnormal motion. They can also help to treat chronic foot pain or heal injuries properly.

Accommodative orthotics, on the other hand, are designed to offer cushion as well as support. They’re ideal for those suffering from inflammation, foot ulcers, or painful calluses.

Over-the-counter insoles are often fine for treating minor discomfort issues, and they’re less expensive than custom orthotics. For chronic or complex foot issues, however, you may want to see a specialist for a custom insert. Though orthotics cost more, they offer the best possible support for your feet and work to fix persisting problems.

What to Look for in an Insole

When looking for the best insole for your feet, there are a couple of things that you should keep in mind. By shopping smart, you can find the best fit for your foot at a price you can afford.


Many insoles come in a single size, or in limited sizing options. Often, you’re expected to cut the insole to fit the size and shape of your shoe. This type of insole is usually foam and intended for padding rather than support.

More advanced insole designs often come in a range of sizes. You can find the right one for you based on your shoe size. You may still have to trim the insole for a perfect fit, however. If necessary, always opt for the bigger size, as you can always make your inserts smaller.


Most shoes come with a removable insole that offers limited cushioning. If you buy a full-length insole for your shoe, you’ll most likely have to remove this insert before using the new one.

Three-quarter length insoles, along with partial inserts such as heel cups and lifts, are designed to be worn alongside your shoe’s insert. They’re often thinner than full insoles to prevent your footwear from feeling overcrowded. Some are designed to go on top of the insert, while others should be placed underneath.

Arch Support

If you use an insert that’s not designed for your particular arch type, you may end up causing more harm than good. You need an insole that will be able to offer your arch the maximum level of support to help prevent foot fatigue.

You can have one of three different types of arches. Most people have neutral or medium arches, which require the least amount of outside support for comfort.

Some people, however, have low arches, fallen arches, or flat feet. They need rigid or semi-rigid support around the middle of the foot to keep the pressure off of their arch area.

Those with high arches may want to look for specialty insoles that offer a lifted midsection. The insert should conform to the arch of the feet, in this case, to reduce pressure on the balls and heel of the feet by distributing pressure more evenly.


The footbed construction is one of the most important factors to consider when looking at insoles. It determines how much support or cushioning you’ll get as you move.

Typically, the most supportive insoles have rigid or semi-rigid footbeds. They don’t have any give as you move, ensuring that your foot stays in the proper orientation. However, they don’t do much to prevent foot fatigue.

Cushioned footbeds are better for those who are looking for pain relief or shock absorption. You can find various levels of cushioning depending on your unique needs, from rigid footbeds with built-in padding to footbeds with a flexible construction.


Insoles are made of a variety of materials, each with their own benefits and drawbacks. Foam is one of the most common materials, offering plenty of cushioning and pressure relief, but not much in the way of support. Wool also provides plenty of cushioning with the added benefit of temperature regulation.

Gel insoles also help to enhance comfort, and typically offer more support than either foam or wool. However, they’re often more expensive and can weigh down your shoes.

Cork is another common insole material. It offers more support than either gel or foam while still cushioning the foot. However, cork is thick, and it wears down quickly.

Leather lasts longer than most other insole materials, and leather inserts are often thin enough to fit most shoe types. It offers both cushioning and support, and many people enjoy the feel of it. However, leather is not good at wicking away sweat, and may not be the best choice for strenuous activity or warm weather.


Different insoles are designed with different feet in mind. You should look for one that matches the size and width of your foot as well as your arch height. However, the shape of your feet isn’t the only consideration when looking at insole design.

You should also take into account pronation, or how you walk. Very few of us have a naturally perfect gait, and our shoes should reflect this. Overpronation means that when you walk, the arches of your feet roll inward. Supination, on the other hand, is when your ankles roll outwards with each step.

If you overpronate, you should look for an insole designed to address that issue. It should have a ridged or lifted inside edge to help direct your feet to move straight. Similarly, if you supinate, you should look for ridges along the outer edge of your insoles.

Athletic Insoles

Not all insoles are designed for daily wear. Some are specialized to help improve athletic performance. They have a carefully engineered design that offers greater balance and stability along with protective padding.

Different sports require differen t types of insoles for optimal performance. Runners need plenty of padding in the heel and forefoot to help absorb shock when their foot hits the ground. Cyclists, on the other hand, need a stiff insole that will help to support their feet on the pedals.

For winter sports, it’s best to look for an insole that offers both support and insulation. Skiers, in particular, can benefit from a rigid insole that helps to keep them upright on their skis.

Compact insoles are often best for sports that require the use of specialized footwear, such as hockey, skating, or soccer. The insole should be able to fit comfortably underneath your feet without causing too much compression. You should look for a thin yet contoured design.

Insulating Insoles

In cold weather, insoles can do more than just support your frame. Some insoles are designed to insulate your feet, allowing you to regulate your temperature.

Wool is one of the best materials for insulating insoles. Not only does it keep you warm during the winter, but also cool in the summer. It’s able to do this thanks to its wicking properties. Wool is excellent at absorbing moisture from the air, allowing it to hold in heat when it’s cold out while trapping cool air on warm days.

Wool inserts make a good addition to heavy-duty shoes without much insulation. Adding them to your hiking boots can help you to regulate your feet’s temperature in all weather conditions.

If you’re looking exclusively for an insole to keep your feet feeling warm and toasty, you can find battery-powered insoles. They’re designed to heat your feet, even in the bitter cold. Some can even be operated wirelessly, allowing you to turn them on and off at will.

Moldable Insoles

No matter what kind of insole you use, with daily use, it’s bound to conform to the shape of your foot eventually. With heat-moldable insoles, however, you can fit them to your feet in one easy step.

Typically, you heat the insoles for a short period in the oven, allowing the material to become soft and flexible. Then, once it’s cool enough to touch, you can stand on the insoles to imprint your unique foot shape on them.

Moldable inserts are the closest over-the-counter solution that you can find to custom orthotics. However, they’re not designed to correct imperfections. You copy the exact contours of your foot, including problem areas.

Moldable insoles are best used to enhance comfort and support in your shoes. If you’re looking to fix problems such as a collapsed arch, heel spurs, poor pronation, and more, it’s best to seek the help of a professional.

Cushioned Insoles

Cushioned insoles are designed for both comfort and shock absorption. They’re often flexible instead of rigid or semi-rigid. They offer temporary pain relief, but often, heavily cushioned insoles offer little-to-no arch support.

Insoles with cushioning are ideal for joggers and runners who are looking for relief from foot fatigue. This type of insole is also popular amongst people with shin splints or who experience discomfort from standing all day.

Cushioned insoles are typically made with foam or gel. Although gel insoles tend to be heavier than other alternatives, they’re often the best at protecting your feet against high-impact movements.

In recent years, memory foam insoles have become more popular amongst people looking to enhance shoe comfort. Memory foam is soft, supple, and conforms easily to the shape of your foot. Memory foam insoles are also typically thin enough to fit in most shoe styles. However, this material offers even less support than gel insoles.

Check out the best shoe inserts for standing all day long.

Heavy-Duty Insoles

When you work a physically demanding job, you can end up wearing down insoles and orthotics quickly. It’s best to opt for heavy-duty insoles that are made of a durable material and designed specifically to withstand frequent use. Many can also hold up to carry heavy loads.

Heavy-duty insoles should also provide the support that you need if you’re on your feet all day. Their design often includes padding to help reduce pressure and foot fatigue throughout the day. Many also feature semi-rigid support around the arches for extended standing or walking.

Heavy-duty insoles are ideal for those in industries such as construction and manufacturing. They can also come in handy if you frequently do heavy labor around the house, such as renovating or landscaping.

High Heel Insoles

High heels, while fashionable, aren’t known for being comfortable. They place the feet at an unnatural angle, putting pressure on the ball and toes. Wearing heels every day can also eventually lead to ankle and back pain.

It can be a challenge to find an insole that’s discreet enough to fit in a heel and yet substantial enough to offer support. Often women opt for metatarsal pads, but many also use full insoles.

It’s best to look for something with a low profile and made of cushioning material. Gel or foam are both ideal for high heel insoles, as they help to absorb shock and pressure on the ball of the foot both when standing and walking.

Kids’ Insoles

Children’s feet are still growing and developing, which can make finding the right insert for their shoes a challenge. You may have to swap out inserts fairly frequently as they increase in shoe size. An insole that’s too small can end up causing long-term damage to a developing foot.

There are many insoles that are specifically designed for a child’s body. You can find a range of sizes and styles, with many boasting designs and colors that kids will love.

Kids’ insoles should work to complement food growth, driving it in a healthy direction. You should look for a carefully engineered model that gently positions, rearranges, and aligns the foot as it grows.

If you’re experiencing foot pain, adding an insole to your shoe may be the solution to your problem. Insoles give you more cushioning and support as you walk, helping to prevent discomfort in the foot, ankle, and back. There are several different types of insoles to choose from, from over-the-counter inserts to custom-made orthotics.

High Arch Insoles

Why should you get insoles with high arches? They are going to provide excellent support and cushioning for your underfoot! Get them today so that you can enjoy the comfy feeling of a good night’s sleep.

Check out these best Insoles for High Arches.

Magnetic Insoles

Magnetic shoes have become popular recently with all their benefits for pain relief and improved circulation that come from this new technology.

Magnetic shoe inserts are a lot more complex than they may seem. The medical magnets in these shoe inserts can be placed to face an injured area of the feet and help relax those capillaries, which improves blood flow by up to 20%.

Here are some of the best magnetic shoe inserts on the market today.


How many types of insoles are there? ›

Material: The four most common materials from which insoles are made are foam, gel, cork, and leather. Each has their advantages, and the material you choose is largely based on preference.

What are the three types of insoles? ›

There are three basic types of insoles: comfort insoles, molded insoles and custom orthotics. Comfort insoles are a great option if your feet are uncomfortable, sore or tired from running, exercising or standing because they are designed to increase arch support.

What are the different types of Nike insoles? ›

Shop the Latest Nike Running Footwear

To simplify things, there are three main types of insoles: high-volume (maximum cushioning), medium-volume (moderate cushioning) and low-volume (minimum cushioning).

What is the difference between insoles? ›

Insoles that are separate from your shoe, sometimes called inserts, are designed to replace those standard insoles and bolster your shoe with more cushion and support. The main difference between an insole and an orthotic is that insoles do not address specific foot disorders.

How do I know what type of insoles I need? ›

Insoles are typically sized by a range of shoe sizes (for example, Men's 9-11). For most insoles this is because they are designed to be trimmed down to fit your shoe perfectly. If you know your foot measurements then pick the insole that corresponds with your foot size.

What are the different orthotics inserts? ›

Basically, orthotics can be divided into two main categories – off-the-shelf shoe inserts and prescription or custom-made orthotics. The former are over-the-counter prefabricated products that are designed to cushion your feet and provide an element of support.

What does EVA stand for in insoles? ›

What is EVA? EVA is the acronym name of a material that stands for Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate. EVA is an elastomeric (naturally stretchy) polymer that produces materials which are "rubber-like" in softness and flexibility. EVA stands for a plastic which is made by mixing ethylene and vinyl acetate.

What are factory insoles? ›

Factory liners or sockliners

This term typically describes the layer of fabric or foam that's already in your shoe when you purchase it — it's the part in between the wearer's foot and the midsole of the shoes. Sockliners may be affixed to the footwear, or completely removable.

Are hard or soft insoles better? ›

More supportive – Hard orthotics may offer more support than their soft counterparts. Because they don't depend on the shoes you wear to hold their shape, they can equitably distribute different amounts of support to different areas of your feet.

Should I get high arch insoles? ›

The best thing you can do for high arches is properly support them. That means using insoles made for high arches. Insoles will relieve excessive pressure on the ball and heel of your foot by evenly distributing your body weight. That, in turn, will cushion the impact when you walk, run or jump.

What is the difference between arch supports and insoles? ›

Many people don't know the difference between orthotics and basic arch support when it comes to orthopedic inserts. One significant difference is that orthotics are custom-made to address your foot's biomechanical faults or provide advanced arch support.

What is comfort insole? ›

: a loose thin strip placed inside a shoe for warmth or comfort.

What are comfort insoles used for? ›

When you are on your feet all day, your feet can experience discomfort, especially in the heel, arch and ball of foot. Dr. Scholl's® Comfort Tri-Comfort® Insoles provide cushioning and support in these key areas to reduce the impact of walking, which can help you feel more comfortable during the day.

What are insoles for flat feet called? ›

Orthotics will have a heel cup that allows your heel to sink down and keep your ankle from moving around too much. The arch support is also crucial because it helps restore the normal arch people with flat feet are missing. Orthotic insoles can be split into two categories; rigid and semi-rigid.

Are hard or soft insoles better for flat feet? ›

Rigid Orthotics for Flat Feet

Rigid orthotics also do tend to work well when attempting to treat plantar fasciitis due to flat feet because they offer necessary rigid arch support and help restrict or control abnormal foot movement to ensure correct alignment.

What is the difference between orthotics and insoles? ›

To summarise, an insole is a device to cushion and absorb shock whilst an orthotic is a device which can relive pain, redistribute pressure and restore natural foot function. If you think you may need orthotics make an appointment with your Podiatrist to discuss the correct orthotic prescription for you.

How do you use orthopedic insoles? ›

The orthotics should lie flat on the bottom of the shoe with minimal “rocking”. Place the orthotics in the shoes with the orthotics as far back into the heel cup as possible. When putting on the shoe, be sure the orthotic remains completely at the back of the heel counter.

Should insoles be bigger than feet? ›

It is also accepted that the insole should be at least half a centimetre longer than the length of your foot. So if, after measuring, you find that your foot is 24 cm long, which is shoe size 37, you should add half a centimetre and choose size 38 shoes instead. The same applies to men's shoes.

Do you put insoles on top of insoles? ›

Any insole or orthotic that is not full-length should be placed on top of your shoe's existing insole.

What are orthopedic shoe inserts called? ›

What are orthotics? Orthotics are special shoe or heel inserts a doctor prescribes that are custom-made specifically for you. A doctor may prescribe orthotics to treat foot, leg, or back problems.

What are custom insoles called? ›

Custom orthotics are specially-made devices designed to support and comfort your feet. Prescription orthotics are crafted for you and no one else. They match the contours of your feet precisely and are designed for the way you move.

How much do orthotic shoe inserts cost? ›

There are many types of custom orthotics, and they can cost anywhere from $300 to $800. Semi-custom orthotics cost between $60 and $300, and basic off-the-shelf inserts are available for as little as $10 to $20. Some health insurance plans won't pay for custom-made orthotics.

Which is better EVA or rubber? ›

EVA is softer than rubber, making them more flexible and comfortable on your feet. EVA has shock absorption technology; most running shoes use EVA for this reason.

Is EVA rubber or foam? ›

EVA is expanded or foam rubber, which is used for sports equipment padding. Snow and water ski boots, bicycle saddles, hockey pads, boxing gloves and helmets, and fishing rods and reels are constructed with EVA foam.

Which sole is better PVC or EVA? ›

EVA is an environmentally friendly material with stronger tensile toughness than PVC.

What is the difference between EVA and PU insoles? ›

More dense EVA foam will offer more support and break down less quickly. Polyurethane is a longer lasting, very supportive midsole material mostly found in backpacking and mountaineering boots. PU is dense and weighty and usually requires a break in period before it becomes more pliable and comfortable.

Are all insoles the same? ›

They may be made for a specific type of foot. For example there are insoles for flat feet. There are also high arch insoles and arch support insoles. Certain types of insoles might also be made for a specific type of issue such as lower back pain.

What did NASA use shoe insoles for? ›

The foam's properties allow the shoe to change with the wearer's foot as it shrinks and swells throughout the day. Scientists at NASA's Ames Research Center originally developed temper foam in the early 1970s to relieve the intense pressure of G-forces experienced by astronauts during rocket launches.

Why do insoles hurt at first? ›

Your orthotics were not properly fitted or designed, or are worn out. Improper design or fit is one of the top reasons for foot pain from orthotics. If you have an improperly fitting foot orthosis, it is often because you have chosen an off-the-shelf solution that does not fit your specific foot shape correctly.

What are the signs of bad insoles? ›

5 Signs that it's Time to Replace Insoles
  • Visual Damage: Torn, cracked, etc., which can cause blisters.
  • Fading: Color and Logo.
  • Bad Odor: Indicates bacteria or fungal growth, which can lead to foot infections.
  • Compressed: Constant wear will eventually compress insoles and no longer offer cushioning and support.
Oct 8, 2022

Should insoles be bigger or smaller? ›

The primary purpose of insoles and orthotics is to improve stability and comfort for your feet. As a result, your insoles should fit snugly in your shoes, not taking up so much space that they cause discomfort, pressure, or pain.

Can too much arch support hurt your feet? ›

Plantar fasciitis is a condition where the plantar fascia ligament, which supports the arch of your foot, becomes irritated and inflamed. One of the most common causes is excessive arch support, which can cause too much pressure on the fascia and result in a burning sensation in the soles of your feet.

What are the negatives of high arches? ›

Ankle instability: High arch feet can cause ankle instability and increase your risk for ankle sprains. Metatarsal fractures: Because high arches can cause repeated stress, people with the condition may develop hairline fractures in the bones of the foot.

Why are Birkenstocks so good for your feet? ›

Our Contoured Footbed Encourages Foot Health

The Birkenstock footbed is made of resilient cork/latex and is shaped to create a healthy walking environment for your feet. Additionally, the cork/latex blend is pliable and reacts to natural body warmth.

How do I choose an arch support insole? ›

Insoles should be firm enough so that when you press down on the arch, it doesn't collapse. If there's too much give, the insert won't give you the support you need. Insoles work best when they match the contours of your feet. Insoles that are too high can hurt.

What can I use instead of insoles? ›

Pads, cushions, and insoles will do the job for a lot less. Gel pads, for example, won't absorb odors like traditional fabric pads. They also last longer and are washable and reusable. "There are also some really great silicone adhesive gel cushions that stick onto feet instead of inside the shoes," suggested Dr.

Who should wear high arch insoles? ›

There are many different reasons to wear shoe arch support insoles. If you have foot pain from plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions, are a pronator or supinator, are an athlete looking for better biomechanics for optimum performance, or if your feet feel fatigued and tired from your daily activities.

What are medical insoles called? ›

What are orthotics? Orthotics are special shoe or heel inserts a doctor prescribes that are custom-made specifically for you. A doctor may prescribe orthotics to treat foot, leg, or back problems.

What is the difference between 3 4 and full length insoles? ›

Unlike full length insoles, 3/4 length insoles extend from the ball of the foot to the heel and are ideal for dress shoes and shoes that have non-removable liners.

What is orthopaedic insoles? ›

Orthopedic insoles : definition

Orthopedic insoles are medical devices made to measure by a podiatrist or a pedorthist. They relieve pain caused by foot deformities thanks to a correction specific to each individual (see also our article Why wear an orthopedic insole ?).

Do gel insoles make shoes more comfortable? ›

They are designed to minimise the shock and pressure on your feet when you partake in physical activities and exertions, making you feel comfortable for longer. Whether wearing an uncomfortable pair of work heels or a sensible pair of shoes, gel inserts and inner shoe soles elevate the comfort of any footwear design.

What are the cons of wearing insoles? ›

Your intrinsic foot muscles are working less because your foot is being supported by the insole. This can be good for pain relief in some cases, but if you wear orthotics for years in all your shoes, your feet can become deconditioned.

Do podiatrists give insoles? ›

Some are firmer and designed to provide your foot with support. Podiatrists can design a specific insole prescription that will meet your foot health needs. However, some people are not able to access a podiatrist or may prefer to try an insole that you can buy in the first instance.

Do podiatrists make insoles? ›

Orthotics are only manufactured after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs, so the orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and pathology. Prescription orthotics are divided into two categories: Functional orthotics are designed to control abnormal motion.

Why are foot orthotics not covered by insurance? ›

Many employers have excluded custom orthotics as a covered benefit, as a way to save their company the out of pocket expense of a custom item.

Should I get a size bigger for insoles? ›

Do I have to go up a shoe size in order for my insole to fit? You may have to go up by half or one size so that your insole fits comfortably into your shoe.

How much should I spend on insoles? ›

They give your feet extra support tailored to your unique needs. There are many types of custom orthotics, and they can cost anywhere from $300 to $800. Semi-custom orthotics cost between $60 and $300, and basic off-the-shelf inserts are available for as little as $10 to $20.

Are buying insoles worth it? ›

Not only can insoles provide much needed pain relief for foot, ankle and leg issues, they can also provide a wide range of benefits focused on aligning feet into a healthy position when standing, running and walking.

What types of orthotics are there? ›

There are three common types of orthotics known as soft, rigid, and semi-rigid.

What are proprioceptive insoles? ›

Naboso Proprioceptive Insoles are textured insoles which improve proprioceptive and neuromuscular stimulation to the skin of the feet. Their function is very different to a standard orthotic which provides physical bio-mechanical support/control to the foot and leg.


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