How Shoe Inserts, Insoles, and Orthotics Differ

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How Shoe Inserts, Insoles, and Orthotics Differ

A lot of people use the terms “insoles,” “inserts,” and “orthotics” interchangeably. However, by design, they are quite different. Insoles and inserts can be purchased in a store, while orthotics are prescribed by your podiatrist and customized from a mold of your feet. All three types provide extra support and comfort to your feet. The Orthotic Shop shares the differences and the expected results from these devices.

Shoe Inserts Purchased Over-the-Counter

These can be purchased in any store that sells them, and they do not require any prescriptions from a doctor or podiatrist. These are available in two lengths: short-length and full-length.

Short Length Insoles: Another name for these is “partial” shoe insoles. They support part of your feet. They include four types:

Metatarsal pads

These provide cushioning right behind the ball of the foot. A lot of women who wear high heels use these. These are also good for people who suffer from Morton’s neuroma.

Short insoles

These are different types of insoles designed for flat shoes like casual shoes for daily wear or ballet flats. The length ends at the ball of the foot.

Heel lifts

Used by people who injured their Achilles tendon or calf muscle. They raise the heel to relieve pressure from these areas. A person who has one leg slightly shorter than the other can use one for just the shorter leg. Otherwise, heel lifts should be worn in both shoes.

Heel cups

Designed to alleviate heel pain. They are generally constructed from plastic or gel that can absorb the shock produced by each step. These are not suitable for pain caused by plantar fasciitis because these do not treat the actual foot problem, and the wearer will not get relief long-term.

Full-Length Insoles

These go along the full length of your feet. The different types are described below.

Arch-support insoles

These are designed to provide support for your foot arch, like for people who have problems with “flat feet”. If your feet tend to pronate, these will help in correcting the problem. Different situations will require different arch heights. Accurate sizing is required for the best fit and optimal benefits.

Cushioned insoles

These are simple shoe inserts made from gel or foam. They don’t come in different sizes. These designs provide an extra layer of cushioning to your feet for temporary comfort, but that is all. They provide no arch support and do not correct any foot problems.

Heat-moldable insoles

These are not quite the same as customized orthotics, but you can mold them to your foot’s contours by heating them in your oven. They do not correct any foot issues such as overpronation because the structure of the moldable insole includes the biomechanical abnormalities of your foot. Also, because the material is softer and moldable, moldable insoles are not as durable.


Stacey Chillemi

The Complete Guide to Natural Healing believes that food, vitamins, supplements, and alternative medicine can be your best medicine. Our staff will show you the truth about health and wellness, so you can help your family and closest friends get even healthier. You’ll learn exactly what you should do and how to eat to get healthy, exercise to get your leanest, healthiest body, and how to take control of your family’s health, using natural remedies as medicine.



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