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How to choose the best shoe inserts, according to podiatrists

Ready to ditch your slippers for real shoes again? Inserts might be worth the investment.
Woman and man wearing athletic clothes, sitting on their bed, putting on sneakers
TODAY Illustration / Anchiy / Getty Images

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While many of us have been living in slippers lately, warmer weather means we'll be switching up our footwear and reaching for spring-appropriate styles like trendy sneakers, flats and clogs. Though, the popular options are not the most supportive for your feet.

If you already struggle with foot pain, now might be the best time to invest in a set of insoles — especially with it being National Foot Health Awareness Month.

"Having the proper foot and ankle support in your shoes will help to reduce pain, support proper foot alignment, and keep you comfortable," Jacqueline M. Sutera, DPM, told Shop TODAY. "Inserts help to reduce excessive pronation, which is a contributing factor to 'flat feet'," she said.

How to choose shoe insoles

The material and structure of your insole are important factors, but there are plenty of other things to take into consideration when choosing a shoe insert.

"You want to look for materials that are semi-resistant, materials that actually provide support," New York-based podiatrist Ernest L. Isaacson, DPM PC told Shop TODAY. "You want something that actually contours the arch and resists bending."

Isaacson notes that people with a higher arch will "do better with a less-rigid type of insert." They should also look for an insert that will contour the arch and bring the ground up in essence. On the other hand, those with flat feet might want an insole with a bit more structure.

"Shoe inserts come in many different styles and materials," Sutera said. "The type that is best varies from one person to another and really does depend on the shoe and activity as well. That being said, in general, I think materials that are semi-rigid or semi-flexible, like graphite with a cushioned topcover made from Poron or EVA are durable, comfortable and give the most support without so much bulk."

Podiatrist-approved shoe inserts

Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer

Dr. Tracey Vlahovic, clinical professor of podiatry at Temple University in Philadelphia, recommends these insoles from Spenco, especially for those with generalized foot pain or conditions such as plantar fasciitis.

"I recommend the full length version and always remind patients to wear them in both shoes —sometimes people think you should only wear them on the foot that is painful — and to remove the sock liners in the sneakers prior to placing the insoles in the shoes," Vlahovic said.

Redi-Thotics Flex Orthotic Insoles

Sutera recommends insoles from Redi-Thotics for foot pain. They're made with a foam base, a plush top layer and extra cushion for comfort and stabilization.

"If you have a flatter arch type foot, increased arch support can help to reduce the likelihood of plantar fasciitis and offer pain relief," Sutera said. "Sometimes, however, custom made orthotics may be necessary which can be made by your podiatrist."

Superfeet Green Insoles

Sutera also likes this popular option from Superfeet, which makes several kinds of insoles for different sports and athletic needs. The "green" inserts are made with a high-density foam that can be trimmed to fit into your shoes. With a stabilizer cap for stability, a deep heel cup and the signature Superfeet shape, they help with natural shock absorption and offer comfort, earning them over 12,000 verified five-star ratings.

Spenco Rx Orthotic Insole

Whether you enjoy running or leisurely walks, comfort is key when it comes to your feet. Sutero recommends these insoles from Spenco for enhanced arch support.

"Choose an insert that is durable, thin and supportive," Sutera said. "Take the original flat insole out of the sneaker that it came with and replace it with one with more arch support."

Bestselling shoe inserts

Walk Hero Comfort and Support Insoles

The current bestselling shoe insert on Amazon, this insole is made with three layers of foam and cushioned material to keep feet cool and comfortable. They're suitable for a wide range of activities and reviewers have awarded them over 22,000 verified five-star reviews.

PowerStep Pinnacle Insoles

PowerStep's insoles have garnered more than 9,000 verified five-star reviews from Amazon shoppers. Currently, they rank among the top 10 shoe insoles on the site and reviewers have praised them for their arch support.

"Love the arch support and heel cradle," wrote one verified reviewer. "Have been wearing them in my walking shoes for weeks and very comfy."

Currex RunPro Insole

If your favorite shoes just don't feel as comfortable anymore, these insoles from Currex can replace the existing liners in your shoe or you can order a half-size up if you are adding an additional layer, according to the brand. Currex's insoles are available in three different styles: high, low and medium profiles, and in six different sizes, ranging from XS to XXL.

Spenco Rx Comfort Insole

This budget-friendly option offers a comfortable stretch and is crafted with an antimicrobial coating that helps prevent odor. While it might not feature as much cushion as other insoles, it is a perfect option for anyone who prefers a thin layer with just enough comfort. They've earned over 2,000 verified five-star reviews from Amazon shoppers, who praise them for the cushion they provide in flat shoes.

Superfeet Carbon Lightweight Support Insoles

Superfeet's Carbon insoles are made with a carbon fiber-reinforced stabilizer and an ultralight foam layer. They provide support along the bones in your feet to help reduce pain and stress and relieve common problems. Since they are lightweight, they can easily slip into your favorite shoe or sneaker to upgrade the footbed.

Brison Soft Gel Insole

Can't wait to dig your wedges and open-backed mules out of the closet? These adhesive inserts can add some cushion and absorb shock on the ball of your foot to prevent pain. While full-size inserts are typically recommended by experts, these cushions have still racked up rave reviews. Though, they are hard to transition between shoes, so stocking up on a few packs can save your feet no matter what pair of sandals you wear.

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