Inserts vs. Insoles - What you need to know


With a wide variety of foot products on the market, it's important to know the differences between inserts, insoles and orthotics. All of these products have a variety of features that address specific issues in your foot. Some of them have custom shaping, while others are all about padding and comfort. Below we go over the distinctions on what makes arch support pads so different. 

What are foot insoles, inserts and orthotics?

Foot insoles and inserts are support aids that can be placed inside a shoe to treat various foot and gait problems. People most often complain about issues like arch pain, heel pain (plantar fasciitis), bunions, flat feet, overpronation, hammer toes or a pinched nerve. Insoles and arch support can help to stabilize the foot by correcting any bones, muscles or tendons that are not in an optimal functional position. By aligning the foot with proper support, less stress and pressure are applied to the heel and the ball of the foot when walking, relieving pain and fatigue in the feet and legs. A simple insole or insole sock can even help to resolve knee pain that results from an improper gait.

There are a few differences to take note of when you are thinking of getting yourself a pair of arch support inserts or insoles:

  • Over the counter (OTC) orthotics are usually generic and made from plastic, gel or foam, and come in shoe sizes. They can be used by people with relatively ‘normal’ shaped feet, and work well for problems like arch pain, flat feet, overpronation and Achilles tendinitis (injury or inflammation of the Achilles tendon).
  • Different types of OTC inserts are available, i.e. heel insert, arch insert, ball of foot insert, high heel insert, arch support socks, gel heel socks, insole socks.
  • Prescription orthotics are individualized aids, made to fit and order by an orthotist according to the diagnosis given by a podiatrist or any other relevant medical professional. They can be used to improve biomechanical problems (walking, standing, running) or foot pain caused by injury, plantar fasciitis, arthritis, diabetes, etc. Prescribed orthotics can be rigid and functional or soft and accommodative.

When should you consider using an insole or foot insert?

If you have a job where you are standing for long periods of time or if you are an avid runner, you should consider getting some extra support for your feet as these activities can cause extra strain. Consider visiting a podiatrist if you have a foot injury, congenital foot problems, arch problems or severe foot pain.

What are the benefits of using an insole and why is it important for foot health?

Wearing an insole, whether lose or as an insole sock, will provide balance and stabilization to the foot. Here are some of the benefits and insole can provide:

  • Reduces foot pain
  • Improves flat feet
  • Optimal arch and heel support
  • Improves biomechanical issues
  • Removes excess strain from the feet by evenly distributing pressure
  • Reduces foot fatigue
  • Improves overpronation
  • Can help to resolve other lower limb pain
  • Improves posture and gait
  • Can improve athletic performance

Insoles and inserts can greatly improve foot health by helping the ligaments and muscles in the foot to function optimally. It can reduce foot pain and inflammation, giving you the confidence to move around freely without having to worry about sore and fatigued feet.

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