If your sneakers, sandals, and otherwise comfortable shoes are causing you pain, the best insoles for flat feet can help. Chances are, you’re probably on your feet a lot—and we don’t just mean when you’re hitting the dance floor. You don’t have to suffer the discomfort and pain of not having support for your flat feet. We tapped podiatrists Nelya Lobkova, DPM and Alissa Kuizinas, DPM to help determine what the condition really is and how to find the best insole options on the market.
What does it mean if you have flat feet?
Having flat feet means that your feet have little to no arch on them. “Flat feet are characterized by a particular bone structure in the foot, including a low declination in the heel bone and pronated talus bone,” elaborates Dr. Lobkova. “The cause of flat feet is typically genetic due to the alignment of bone structure in the foot. Other causes include injuries, pregnancy (it increases laxity in the ligaments of the feet), or aging.”
For most people, having flat feet doesn’t result in any underlying symptoms—nor do you need any surgical intervention for the most part, according to Dr. Lobkova. However, symptoms of flat feet can include pain in the knees or hips, pain in the arches over long periods of sitting or standing, or inflammation, in which case additional help (like an insole!) might be beneficial.
Why do you need insoles for flat feet?
While not everybody with flat feet might need an insole, flat feet could potentially increase your likelihood of developing other, more serious issues down the line, such as bunions, calluses, shin splints, and more. According to Dr. Kuizinas, “People with flat feet can develop pain in the arch or midfoot due to improper alignment and biomechanics.” She adds, “Over time, the tendons and ligaments located on the inside of the foot begin to weaken and stretch out, causing deformity of the joints that the tendons and ligaments normally stabilize. The foot arch appears collapsed and the foot becomes unstable, which leads to pain in the arch (plantar fasciitis), and often knee and back pain.”
She suggests that those with flat feet use an insole in their shoes in order to help stabilize the arch in the feet. “People with flat feet often find it difficult to find shoes that are wide enough yet supportive and stable,” adds Dr. Lobkova. “A flat foot requires the shoe to be wide enough at the ball of the foot and supportive in the midsole or arch of the foot in order to limit the collapse of the arch. Orthotics or insoles are the only devices that place the foot in neutral by providing the correct tilt in the heel, as well as arch support.” She stresses that insoles (if used correctly) can provide the support needed for multiple activities and performance levels without problems.
What should you look for in an insole?
“For over-the-counter insoles, one should look for insoles with a heel cup and stabilizing post (or support under the heel section),” says Dr. Lobkova. You want something that’s semirigid—you should not be able to bend them in half. If they bend in half, the insoles may be too soft and may actually contribute to foot and ankle instability, instead of fixing it. Other types of insoles that can be helpful are sensory insoles that stimulate the nerves of the feet and foot muscles, along with cushioning insoles that can be used to augment barefoot or minimalist shoes, adds Dr. Kuizinas.
The best insoles for flat feet
Still at a loss for the best insoles on the market right now? Below are the best picks for flat feet, according to podiatrists’ recommendations.
1. Walk Hero Comfort and Support Plantar Fasciitis Feet Insoles
Walk Hero Comfort and Support Plantar Fasciitis Feet Insoles
According to Dr. Lobkova, people with flat feet can often develop plantar fasciitis, which is when the plantar fascia (a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of each foot and connects the heel bone to the toes) of the foot gets inflamed, causing heel pain. In this case, a thick insole like this option from Walk-Hero helps decrease the pain. It’s cushioned enough to absorb the shock through the entire length of the foot. It also comes with a deep heel drop, which will make sure your foot remains in a healthy position all day long.
2. Superfeet Green High Arch Support Orthotic Shoe Inserts
Superfeet Green High Arch Support Orthotic Shoe Inserts
These unique insoles provide high arch support, helping to stabilize the feet and reducing stress on the heels, knees, and back. The wide, deep heel cup helps to keep the feet in their correct position, while the unique coating in the insole helps with odor control for sweaty feet.
3. Samurai Insoles Arch Support Shoe Insoles
Samurai Insoles Arch Support Shoe Insoles
These podiatrist-designed insoles from Samurai may be a bit on the pricier side as far as insoles go, but they’ve been expertly designed to stop the pain experienced by both flat feet and plantar fasciitis. In particular, these insoles have a flexible orthotic core placed at the center and heel in order to provide complete support throughout the foot. Even though these soles might look thin, the orthotic is hidden inside the sole to provide complete relief without being bulky.
4. Dr. Scholl’s Stabilizing Support Insole with Motion Control
Dr. Scholl’s Stabilizing Support Insole with Motion Control
While some insoles from Dr. Scholl’s might be too soft for those with flat feet, this option comes with a motion-control stabilizing shell that makes sure your ankle stays in alignment with your heel, therefore preventing pain later down the line. This not only helps improve stability and posture, but also reduces any pain or discomfort caused by the extra pressure exposed on flat feet.
5. Spenco Rx Orthotic Arch Support Full-Length Shoe Insoles
Spenco Rx Orthotic Arch Support Full Length Shoe Insoles
Those with flat feet usually have either a very shallow arch (or in more extreme cases, no arch at all!), which is why it’s essential to get a specialized orthotic that will provide support in the arch area to prevent heel and toe pain. This one by Spenco Rx is made of full-length polyester to provide extra stability, while the flexible plastic arch makes sure to keep the foot perfectly in place during all your extracurricular activities.
6. Redi-Thotics Flex Orthotic Insoles
Redi-Thotics Flex Orthotic Insoles
For those who have a low arch and need additional support, the Redi-Thotics Flex Orthotic Insoles are the perfect option. They’re equipped with a plastic, flexible shell that provides support without hurting your feet, and it provides a tight grip for feet that often slide around. The foam adds a layer of cushioning, and a comfy fabric top wicks sweat away.
7. Powerstep Arch Pain Relief Insoles
Powerstep Arch Pain Relief Insoles
This option is great for those with flat feet, since it consists of two layers of foam cushioning, in order to create a sculpted insole that will provide firm (yet flexible) full-foot support. The deep heel cradle cups the heel, which will help fix the shaky step that occurs with flat feet.
8. Pcssole Orthotic Arch Support Shoe Insoles
Pcssole Orthotic Arch Support Shoe Insoles
This comfy pair of insoles provides three solid inches of arch and heel support, while the stabilizing heel cradle will make sure the heel bone stays aligned and locked into place all day. This will help reduce stress in the hips, knees, and heels, allowing for pain-free movement, no matter what.
9. Walkomfy Flat Feet Arch Support Insoles
Walkomfy Flat Feet Arch Support Insoles
Another great pick for those with plantar fasciitis, these orthotics by Walkomfy provide a unique, ergonomic, U-shaped design that provides a ton of stability and keeps the base of your foot aligned. The foot bones are kept vertical and in balance, and the breathable memory foam interlayer absorbs sweat quickly and keeps everything hygienic and dry.
10. Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Arch Support Shoe Insoles
Spenco Polysorb Cross Trainer Athletic Cushioning Arch Support Shoe Insoles
If you’re incredibly active, podiatrists highly recommend the Spenco Polysorb Insoles. The four-way stretch fabric prevents blisters, while the lightweight foam provides a ton of arch and heel support for even the sweatiest workouts. As a bonus, this unique insole is made of a special material that absorbs shock and impact in order to prevent pain during all of your highest impact activities.