The 6 Best Shoe Insoles and Orthotics for Athletes to Buy in 2018

Designed to Provide Relief and Correct Foot Position

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Shoe insoles and orthotics can correct a variety of biomechanical foot problems (including pronation and supination) while helping stabilize and cushion vulnerable arches and midsoles. They are especially useful for athletes who are prone to overuse injury, have stability issues, or are experiencing foot, knee, hip, or lower back pain while on their feet.

Difference Between Insoles and Orthotics

By definition, insoles provide cushioning and minor support in your shoes. Because the material is soft and deforms easily, they need to be changed every three to six months on average. They may function as shoe deodorizers, provide arch support, or offer targeted relief to the heel, midsole, or ball of the foot (metatarsus).

By contrast, the term orthotic suggests a firm, supportive insole that usually has some type of plastic where the arch is located. While they are frequently custom-made to an orthopedist's specifications, more and more non-custom models are being produced for drugstore and athletic store shelves. As opposed to a multi-purpose insole, an orthotic is specifically designed to correct the way you stand and walk.

What You Should Know Before You Buy

Shoe inserts may be helpful as a short-term solution for athletes suffering acute or recurrent foot pain or instability. However, as a longer-term solution, they may fall short.

This is because an insert provides relief by taking over the function of certain muscles in the foot. By lifting an arch or supporting the heel, the muscles involved in those areas are given a break. As such, if you use an insert for too long, those muscles will eventually lose their tone and strength and possibly leave you in worse condition than before.

While results can vary from person to person (due to the variability of foot shapes and structures), insoles and orthotics are typically effective in treating mild to moderate foot problems in athletes and non-athletes alike.

Here are six of the best designed specifically for people on the move:

Superfeet Performance Insoles

Superfeet is a top-selling insole brand prized by competition runners. They are specially designed to hold the heel in alignment and reduce the strain on the knees, ankles, hips, and lower back. While not cheap, Superfeet insoles are able to reduce pronation and provide consistent arch support even during endurance runs.

Spenco Arch Supports

Spenco makes a variety of insoles that help reduce pronation and provide extra support for those with high arches or flat feet. They help alleviate pain by maintaining the foot in the neutral position. Spenco offers a wide range of over-the-counter orthotic devices, most of which are reasonably priced.

ZenToes Metatarsal Pads

ZenToes metatarsal pads fit under the ball of the foot and help decrease the pressure on the underlying metatarsal bones. They are particularly helpful for athletes who run or hike uphill and experience midfoot pain. ZenToes is unique in that it slips over your foot like a half-glove rather than using adhesives like other metatarsal pads do.

Dr. Scholls Massaging Gel Insoles

Dr. Scholls is a name that everyone knows, and their trademark insoles remain bestsellers for good reason. For performance cycling, you can do no better than trying a pair of their patented gel insoles. These darlings provide all-around comfort while stabilizing the midsole and maintaining the integrity of the arch.

HYLOON Gel Heel Cups

Heel cups are often prescribed by physical therapists to reduce symptoms of foot pain, heel pain, and plantar fasciitis. They work by gently cushioning the heel while lifting it slightly to decrease the pressure. HYLOON's popular heel cup is especially comfortable, made with a pliable, medical-grade silicone that bolsters even the most painful heel spurs or bruises.

New Balance Insoles

New Balance is the name in orthopedically designed sports shoes. The company was, in fact, one of the first to design shoes with built-in arch supports. Today, New Balance continues the tradition with a line of extra-light, anatomically designed insoles. Choose from motion control, pressure relief, arch stability, pro-gel, or multi-sports models for comfort and performance that are simply unmatched.

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