The Best Insoles

in Health


Best Overall

After miles of walking and running and hours of standing in place, we’ve determined that the best insoles are Superfeet – GREEN. Recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), these shoe insoles provide great support for the entire foot, including the troublesome heel and arch areas. They are appropriate for a wide range of activities and slip easily into a variety of shoe styles. Our runner-up selection is SOLE – Softec Ultra-U, a well-cushioned alternative that offers excellent stability.

Our Top Choices

Best Overall

Superfeet

GREEN

Runner-up

SOLE

Softec Ultra-U

After miles of walking and running and hours of standing in place, we’ve determined that the best insoles are Superfeet – GREEN. Recommended by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), these shoe insoles provide great support for the entire foot, including the troublesome heel and arch areas. They are appropriate for a wide range of activities and slip easily into a variety of shoe styles. Our runner-up selection is SOLE – Softec Ultra-U, a well-cushioned alternative that offers excellent stability.

Table of contents

How we selected finalists to test

We began our research by exploring recommendations by medical experts, including podiatrists and physical therapists. First, we learned that the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) recognizes products, including insoles, that are found to be beneficial to foot health with a Seal of Acceptance. Five of our six insole finalists have received this endorsement; the sixth received excellent user reviews at an economical price point.

Next, we contacted an experienced podiatrist, Dr. Benjamin Cullen of San Diego Podiatry Group, for his opinion on the best insole. Dr. Cullen explained that for an average person with mild heel pain, a pair of Superfeet – GREEN insoles often resolves any issues. He suggests this type both for active exercisers and for people who are on their feet for long periods of time. These insoles, Dr. Cullen says, provide enough support for most individuals without being too rigid.

In general, Dr. Cullen recommends breaking in new shoe insoles first before wearing them for a full day. This involves wearing them for 1-2 hours per day and gradually increasing the time worn over several days. Most manufacturers of the insoles we chose make this same recommendation, particularly if you aren’t used to wearing shoe insoles or orthotics.

Note that while insoles are heavily marketed for a range of different activities (from “running” to “work”), our podiatrist suggests that it is not necessary to have different insoles for each activity.

We also discussed the benefits of using insoles with exercise enthusiast and physical therapist, Christine Kittles. She explained that putting your feet into proper alignment can relieve pain in your feet and lower body, plus improve overall mobility. Kittles has seen positive results with all types of Superfeet insoles, which mold to the shape of your feet over time.

Finally, we researched previous product testing by The Wirecutter, along with a variety of articles, expert advice and product information online from sources like Runner’s World, Orthotic Shop, REI Expert Advice and The Insole Store.

The six best insoles

ProductPriceOverall Comfort
Rating (1-10)
Heel SupportArch SupportRigidity
1. Superfeet - GREEN$$$8.4StrongModerateRigid
2. SOLE - Softec Ultra-U$$$7.5StrongHighRigid
3. Physix - Gear Sport$7.4Moderate/StrongModerate/HighSemi-rigid
4. Spenco - Polysorb Cross Trainer$7.4MildMildFlexible
5. Powerstep - Pinnacle$$6.9Moderate/StrongHighSemi-rigid
6. Vionic - Orthaheel$$6.8ModerateModerateSemi-rigid

Who needs an insole?

Almost everyone who puts stress on their feet can benefit from a pair of quality insoles. This stress may come from high-impact physical activity such as running, fitness walking and intensive training. Or, it can come from long hours of standing on your feet in professions like nursing, food service or retail. If you stand in the same spot all day, consider using an anti-fatigue mat too.

Whether you are currently experiencing foot, ankle, knee, hip or lower back pain, or simply want to avoid it in the future, a good pair of insoles may help. For the majority of people, putting feet into a neutral position — which is what most shoe insoles aim to do — helps solve and prevent related pain and discomfort.

Foot pain can be due to plantar fasciitis, flat feet, high arches, heel pain, overpronation or repetitive stress. If you have a proper insole already and are still experiencing foot pain from repetitive stress, using a foot massager may help relieve some pain. Shoe insoles provide both cushioning and overall support, thereby relieving pain not only in your feet, but often in other areas of your lower body as well. Shoe insoles can also help prevent blisters and even keep your feet warm.

Choosing a pair to try may seem overwhelming. As previously mentioned, insoles are marketed for many types of activities, such as standing all day, walking, running and hiking. Our experts, however, suggest that there are only two main types of insoles — support insoles and gel/cushioned ones.

Most people can benefit from better support, but some individuals may simply need extra padding. Although our testing focused on full-length support-style insoles (which generally provide the maximum level of support and, ultimately, comfort) the final six selections offer a range of cushioning levels.

Insoles can be used in various types of shoes, including athletic, casual, dress and work. Generally, they are meant to replace (as opposed to go on top of) the original shoe insoles.

Full-length insoles tend to be designed for sturdier, roomier athletic shoes, so there are certain styles of shoes that insoles won’t work for. This can be an issue particularly affecting women’s styles: sandals, high heels and very tight-fitting shoes. In these cases, other types of partial inserts/lifts/pads may be more appropriate.

If your shoes do not have removable insoles to start with, getting a pair of insoles to fit could be challenging.

When it comes to insoles, sometimes the “best” pair depends on the actual shape of your foot, any problems you are having and what activity you are doing.

Women, for example, tend to have issues with forefoot pain from wearing high heels; good arch padding can help divert the pressure from that area. Runners, on the other hand, often experience heel pain, so a deep, stable heel cup could help.

Our feet come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. As you explore the many insoles on the market, it is helpful to understand your foot type. Are you flat-footed or do you have unusually high arches? Take this test to find out. Are your feet wide or narrow? Do you over- or under-pronate? Finally, are you currently experiencing any pain? If you are having severe foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain, consult your doctor before starting your search.

If chronic health problems, such as diabetes or circulation issues, are contributing factors to your foot, ankle or lower body pain, please consult your medical provider. Custom orthotics and/or additional treatment may be needed.

One important aspect that our testers noticed was that every single pair of insoles tested was a major improvement over the thin, floppy, formless insoles that come standard in shoes. Bottom line? Give shoe insoles a try! Your feet don’t need to hurt.

Store-bought insoles vs prescription orthotics

There are many reasons to try over-the-counter shoe insoles before rushing to the podiatrist for custom orthotics. The biggest reason, of course, is financial. The average cost of prescription orthotics is $400-600. Because this isn’t generally covered by insurance, podiatrists and physical therapists often suggest trying over-the-counter shoe insoles first, since they are generally priced at $10-100.

When making your decision, consider that because custom orthotics are costly, most people only purchase one pair and transfer them between various shoes. This isn’t as convenient as owning multiple pairs for all of your shoes. If store-bought insoles prove effective for you, their more affordable price point may allow you to purchase multiple pairs for this convenience.

Next, note that custom orthotics can also be more of a hassle to obtain, often requiring a referral from a primary care doctor to a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist. This can cause delays in treating foot discomfort. Quality over-the-counter insoles can be conveniently purchased at many stores selling footwear or online from various outlets.

Custom orthotics are customized to your feet, either to correct certain motions or to accommodate specific problems and relieve related pain. They can also be customized to particular shoes, including high heels.

Also, custom orthotics are made from top-quality materials and can last one to five years, depending on a variety of factors. Your podiatrist can help determine when it’s time to replace them. Store-bought insoles tend to wear out faster, though there is a wide range of durability between products. Superfeet, for example, can last up to a full year.

If you are experiencing any active foot pain, Dr. Cullen recommends giving it some time to resolve once you start wearing your new shoe insoles. After the initial break-in period of several days, wear them full-time for an additional two to four weeks. If there’s no improvement in your pain at that point, you may need custom orthotics.

Finally, if you are in doubt as to whether you should try over-the-counter or prescription orthotics, and/or your foot-related pain is severe, please consult your medical provider.

Important features to consider

Overall support: For proper foot health, good support is key. In our testing, we generally found that the more rigid pairs of insoles, particularly in the arch and heel areas, provided the best overall support. Again, a supportive pair of insoles will place the foot in a neutral position, minimizing foot pain and discomfort and/or avoiding future issues with these.

Overall comfort: Comfort is also very important. The whole point of insoles, after all, is to make your feet happy! Of course, this measure is more subjective than others, since it depends on the needs of your feet, but the majority of our testers found Superfeet the most comfortable.

Arch support: Many individuals seeking insoles mention arch pain as a motivating factor. The arch area should be shaped appropriately for your foot and be strong enough to not collapse under your weight. Those with very flat feet may not find very high arch support as comfortable as those with naturally higher arches, but the exact shape of the arch curve can factor in as well.

Appropriate arch support can help divert pain from other areas, such as the forefoot or heel areas, so it is beneficial for the entire foot. We found that Superfeet offered a nicely shaped, moderate arch curve with strong support that did not collapse under weight. The SOLE, Powerstep, and Physix models had the highest arches; Spenco the most mild.

Heel cup: The heel is another area of the foot where many people experience pain. Some insoles offer a cradling effect for the heel which can improve stability and comfort. Consider the width and depth of the heel cradle (if any) and how it fits your particular foot. We found that Superfeet and SOLE offered the most stable heel support.

Best overall: Superfeet - GREEN

The Superfeet offered the best support of all the insoles we tested, with the most support in the heel area.

Cushioning: The level of padding varies significantly from insole to insole. Some offer a fairly uniform cushion while others focus the padding onto certain areas of the foot. The Spenco insoles were by far the most cushioned of the ones we tested.

Thickness: Shoe insoles are designed to replace the ones that come standard with a pair of shoes. Shoes with removable insoles are generally higher-volume, with some flexible space to accommodate a slightly larger insole. However, if you need to fit the insoles into a greater variety of shoes, look for a thinner design.

Material: All of the insoles we tested are made from synthetic materials, primarily foam and plastics. However, there are shoe insoles on the market made from leather and natural materials.

Odor and moisture control: Although we didn’t notice any particular odor or moisture issues with any of the insoles tested, we can certainly imagine this could become an issue over time. To avoid, remove the insoles entirely from the shoe after heavy use and let them air out overnight. Many insoles can be hand washed, but check care instructions for specifics.

How we tested

We recruited two product testers, one male and one female, to spend some time wearing our six finalists. Both testers either walked or ran a regular route multiple times per week; both also spent a fair amount of time standing in place. Insole tests were conducted after an initial 3-day break-in period, as recommended by our medical experts and manufacturer’s instructions.

Comfort ratings

The first product test assigned comfort ratings —scale of one (poor) to 10 (excellent) — for each insole after being placed into a pair of athletic shoes. Each model was rated 1) after first putting them on, 2) after an hour of brisk walking and/or running, and 3) after an hour of standing. Care was taken to ensure comparable conditions such as speed, time of day, type of socks and length of route.

These tests were repeated for all of our insole finalists to ensure an accurate and consistent assessment. We then averaged all individual comfort scores to create an overall comfort score for each finalist. Superfeet insoles received the highest overall comfort ratings.

Padding inspection

Next, a visual and touch inspection on padding was completed. This took note of padding levels in the following areas: overall, heel, arch, toe and metatarsal. The Spenco insoles offered the best overall padding and cushioning. SOLE and Powerstep also performed well.

Shoe fit

We placed the insoles into a variety of shoes to check fit: experimenting with men’s and women’s hiking shoes, running shoes, fashion sneakers, dress shoes and boots. It quickly became clear which insole was more difficult to put in, take out and move into another shoe.

For anyone wanting to transfer their insoles between shoes regularly, the flexible, floppy style of the Spenco insoles made them the most challenging to maneuver; the SOLE ones were next most challenging due to their slightly larger size, though we found the others fairly comparable.

This stage of testing was also designed to reveal which, if any, insoles slipped around within the shoe. We found that they all stayed in place quite well. We also discovered which ones were more likely to fit in lower-volume shoes.The thinner forefoot area of the Physix made them the lowest profile insoles and most likely to fit into tighter dress shoes and boots or low-volume fashion sneakers.

Stability measurements

Heel cup

Heel pain is a big problem for many individuals and a major component of why people turn to insoles in the first place. Therefore, a key point of marketing for shoe insoles involves claims of a “deep heel cup.”

To attach some relative meaning to this claim, we investigated by assigning each insole one of three categories: strong, moderate or mild. Two of the insoles landed in the “strong” category and offered the best cradling of the heel area — the Superfeet and SOLE.

Arch height

Insole arches were compared to each other and rated high, moderate or mild. SOLE and Powerstep had the highest arches and strong arch support — but note that the arch curve could be too high for some individuals. Superfeet, Physix and Vionic offered more moderate arch support; Spenco was the lowest.

Rigidity of insole

When it comes to insoles, there must be a balance of being rigid enough to offer good support while still flexible enough for the feet to comfortably bend and move. We rated each insole model in one of three categories: flexible, rigid or semi-rigid. Our top choice, Superfeet, and runner-up, SOLE, both landed in the “rigid” category, although note that while the heel and arch areas are fairly rigid, both are still flexible in the forefoot area.

Customization

Most shoe insoles are designed to custom-mold to your foot over time. None of the insoles we tested require heat molding, though the SOLE model offered the option to heat mold, a simple process involving an oven at low heat before wearing to speed up the customization process.

With either heat or wear molding, our manufacturers’ recommendations consistently suggested breaking in new insoles over a several-day period, slowly increasing the time worn each day. We noticed that the Superfeet insoles showed visible shape changes as they molded to our feet.

Odor and moisture

We planned to take note of any unusual odor or moisture after wearing, but all insole models that we tested provided effective odor and moisture control.

The best insole overall: Superfeet – GREEN

After extensive online research to narrow down the field to six finalists, we conducted a variety of product tests that had us running for miles, walking briskly, standing in place and pulling out a variety of shoe styles from our closets. We explored insole support, stability, comfort, cushioning, shoe fit — and even potential issues with bad odors (yikes!). In the end, our feet are extremely grateful and the winner of best insole overall is abundantly clear: Superfeet – GREEN.

This product comes highly endorsed by medical experts. Along with our runner-up, SOLE – Softec Ultra-U, this one has received the APMA Seal of Acceptance — a distinction demonstrating that podiatrists agree these insoles add significant value to overall foot health.

Beyond that, Superfeet insoles are recommended by our expert podiatrist, Dr. Cullen, for the vast majority of people with mild foot pain. They are appropriate for high-impact activities, long periods of standing, and general daily wear. Dr. Cullen generally suggests that patients give these a try before spending hundreds of dollars on custom orthotics; however, if active foot pain has not improved within two to four weeks, custom orthotics may be necessary.

Exercise enthusiast and physical therapist Christine Kittles agrees that Superfeet makes the best insoles. She uses them personally and recommends them to help resolve or avoid both foot and lower body pain — thereby improving an individual’s overall mobility. Over time, Superfeet insoles visibly mold to your foot to provide a higher level of customization than many other store-bought insoles.

Best overall: Superfeet - GREEN

Superfeet - GREEN are the best insoles for almost everyone's feet. They're comfortable, supportive and perfect to wear in either athletic or everyday shoes.

Superfeet insoles are highly reviewed by a number of product sites that we know and trust, including The Wirecutter, Runner’s World, Orthotic Shop, REI Expert Advice and The Insole Store.

From our series of product tests, Superfeet – GREEN earned top comfort marks by all product testers, offering a combination of excellent arch and heel support. The arch support offers a moderate, nicely shaped curve that is appropriate for most foot types and a deep cradle provides excellent heel stability. SOLE also offers a nice heel cradle and good arch support, although the arches are a bit higher so they may not be appropriate for all foot shapes.

Superfeet has a fairly rigid structure to the heel and arch areas, similar to our runner-up, along with a flexible, moderately cushioned forefront. While SOLE offers more cushioning in the forefoot area, they are also higher-profile and thicker as a result, leading to more challenges with shoe fit. Superfeet allows for a nice trade-off between comfort and functionality.

The downside mostly comes with cost. Superfeet (and SOLE) are definitely on the pricier end of store-bought insoles. However, we believe that they will last much longer than less expensive options, which we could see visible wear and tear on after just a handful of wearings. Superfeet claims their insoles will last up to one year or 500 miles and they come with a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

Key takeaways:

  • Superfeet – GREEN insoles are APMA-accepted and recommended by our medical experts.
  • These insoles can be used for a variety of activities, including running, fitness walking, long periods of standing and everyday use.
  • They are designed for medium- and high-volume footwear and work well in running shoes, casual footwear and boots.
  • Each pair offers comfort and support for up to 12 months or 500 miles, whichever comes first. They also come with a 60-day satisfaction guarantee.

The runner-up: SOLE Softec Ultra-U

We also really like SOLE – Softec Ultra-U insoles. Like Superfeet, they have the APMA Seal of Acceptance and performed well in all areas of our product testing. SOLE can be used for a variety of activities and work best in high-volume shoes.

SOLE performed especially well for overall support. The arch of the SOLE insoles provides high, fairly rigid support, making them a good option for individuals with high arches. Like all models tested, the forefoot area of the insole remains flexible. They have a very similar cradling heel cup to Superfeet – GREEN, which is part of their appeal and offers excellent heel support and stability.

For individuals with particularly high arches, SOLE is a good option. Even for those with more moderately arched feet, they might be still be comfortable due to the nicely shaped and cushioned arch curve. Alternatively, Superfeet offers more moderately raised arches.

Throughout the whole insole, the cushioning was noticeably thicker on SOLE than all the other finalists, with the exception of Spenco. This especially stood out in the forefoot area where other insoles tend to run much thinner.

While the padding is certainly nice to have, there is a trade off because it makes the size of the insoles slightly larger than the others, including Superfeet. This makes shoe fit more challenging, although there is still room in high-volume shoes for these to be comfortable.

The runner-up: SOLE Softec Ultra-U

Best for someone who needs overall support, the SOLE Softec Ultra-U have strong arch support, high cushioning, but a high price tag to match.

To speed up the customization process, or make future adjustments, SOLE also gives the option of heat molding — a simple process that can be done in your home oven. If that doesn’t appeal to you, they can also be molded just by wearing them.

The main drawbacks are that they are higher in price and that there may be some shoe fit issues since they are also thicker than some of the others, as a result of more cushioning. We also found that they run a little longer than some of the others, so may require trimming. (Superfeet also required some trimming.)

If you’re looking for good support that also offers good cushioning, and plan to use them in high-volume shoes, SOLE might be a good option. They are extremely comfortable, supportive and padded, earning them best runner-up choice.

Key takeaways:

  • SOLE – Softec Ultra-U insoles offer excellent cushioning with high, rigid arch support and stable heel cradling.
  • They have received the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Because of their thick cushioning, they are best suited for high-volume shoes.
  • There is a heat-moldable option to speed up the break-in process and provide more customization in less time.

Other finalists we tested

Physix – Gear Sport Soles

Physix – Gear Sport Soles offer an ultra-thin design, leaving lots of toe space and also making them a good choice for tighter fitting shoes. The trade-off is that the forefoot cushioning is quite mild. They have a moderately cradling heel cup and moderate/high arch support.

As one of the least expensive options, they are easy on the budget and come with a 100% money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied. One area of concern is that they do not have the APMA Seal of Acceptance. However, they tested higher than some of the other insoles that do. Like all of our insole finalists, they are generally highly reviewed by previous customers.

Spenco – Polysorb Cross Trainer

The Spenco – Polysorb Cross Trainer is another budget-friendly option that is almost exclusively focused on cushioning and shock absorption, though there is also a soft, moderate arch support that is designed for low- to medium-arched feet.

Unfortunately, the foam under the metatarsal area already showed some signs of wear and tear after just a couple wearings, so the low price point suggests a trade off with long-term durability, but they also come with a one-year unconditional guarantee.

They are comfortable and cushioned and accepted by the APMA, but may not be right for everyone due to fewer stability features.

Powerstep – Pinnacle

Designed by podiatrists, Powerstep offers a full range of insoles, with Powerstep Pinnacle being an “Amazon choice” and APMA-accepted. These have high firm and flexible arch support and a moderate/high cradling heel cup designed for mild to moderate pronation.

The heel is raised slightly higher than some of the other products, taking up somewhat more space in the shoe. The insole’s texture caused some friction for one of our testers on the bottom of the foot and the high heel cup caused heel blistering (due to shoe fit issues) for our other tester.

Powerstep offers a moderate amount of cushioning and is also priced in the middle of the range. Insoles come with a lifetime guarantee against breakage of the plastic foot support.

Vionic – Orthaheel Active

Vionic – Orthaheel Active insoles are designed by podiatrists and have a moderately sloped, fairly rigid arch support with mild overall cushioning and a moderately cradling heel cup. There is visible targeted padding in the metatarsal and heel strike areas.

Vionic offers a 30-day guarantee and has the APMA Seal of Acceptance. While there was nothing specific wrong with them, testers just generally didn’t find them as comfortable as the top choices.

The bottom line

We believe that our top-rated shoe insoles, Superfeet – GREEN, will help you say goodbye to sore feet. These insoles scored well on all aspects of our product testing including overall comfort, arch and heel support, padding, rigidity, shoe fit and functionality — and were clear favorites among our product testers.

They are appropriate for all levels of activity. The combination of cradling heel support, well-shaped and rigid arches, and overall comfort made them winners for best insole.

Our runner-up, SOLE – Softec Ultra-U insoles, is another great option for sore feet. This option is especially good for anyone looking for high, rigid arch support, along with good padding, for high-volume, athletic-style shoes.

Best overall: Superfeet - GREEN

Try wearing Superfeet - GREEN the next time you hit the trails, go to work, or head out around town. These comfortable, supportive insoles will help relieve foot pain and keep your feet healthy!

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