Foot insoles

Insoles are shoe inserts that change the way your feet work. There are many types of insoles, but generally they work by supporting and cushioning the foot, or by changing the way you walk. 

Benefits of insoles

Your podiatrist may suggest insoles for a number of conditions. Generally, there are 2 main types of insoles:

  • functional devices
  • accommodative devices

The podiatrist will decide which the most appropriate device is for you. 

Functional devices are used when support is needed to reduce strain on an injury in order for it to heal, or to ease pain.

Accommodative devices are usually cushioned and designed to ease pressure on a particular area. Sometimes this may be due to a deformity (for example due to arthritis), an area of high pressure (such as corns or callus), or because sensation is reduced (for example, due to diabetic neuropathy).

Risks of insoles

There are not many risks with insoles. At first some people may find them uncomfortable because they alter the way you stand and walk. This is not usually a problem if they are worn in gradually, increasing the time worn every day. If they continue to be uncomfortable, remove the insoles and let the podiatrist know as they may need adjustment.

Insoles can also affect your legs or your back, and sometimes patients find that they can cause aches and pains in these areas. If the insoles cause severe pain or aching, stop using them and let your podiatrist know at your next appointment.

Your insoles have been made for your particular foot problem. Please do not let anyone else wear them.

Other treatment options

Usually, insoles are given as part of a care plan along with other treatments such as rehabilitation exercise, strapping, footwear changes or injections.

For some conditions, there may be other options to insoles. These could include strapping or bracing, exercises, footwear advice, steroid injections or surgery. It is important that you discuss these with your podiatrist before deciding against insoles.

Wearing in your insoles

We recommend that you wear insoles for up to 1 hour on the first day. Wear them around the house to begin with. Vary your activities as constant walking may be too much at first.

Gradually lengthen the wearing in time by 30 minutes to 1 hour each day. After 1 to 2 weeks, you should be able to wear them comfortably all day. It is important to wear in the insoles gradually, even if they feel OK. This is particularly important if you have back problems, as if you wear them too much you may have some pain the next day.

It is normal to expect a little aching at first as the muscles in your legs and feet get used to the devices. If the insoles cause severe pain or aching, stop wearing them and let your podiatrist know at your next appointment.

Follow-up appointment

Usually, the podiatrist will organise a follow-up appointment about 6 weeks after giving you your insoles. This allows time for you to get used to them. At this appointment the podiatrist will discuss how effective the devices have been, and may modify the devices based on your symptoms.

For some conditions you may need to wear your insoles forever. However, if the pain goes away or the injury heals, the podiatrist may suggest that you stop using them.

Useful sources of information

Versus Arthritis is a UK charity providing information and support for people living with arthritis. You can read their information about foot and ankle pain

The Royal College of Podiatry have information for patients about different types of foot conditions.


Resource number: 4689/VER2
Date published: September 2022
Review date: September 2025

Contact us

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the community foot health (podiatry) team.

Phone: 020 3049 7900, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm

Email: [email protected]

We aim to respond to emails within 2 working days. 

For emergencies outside of these hours, go to your nearest emergency department (A&E).

Do you have any comments or concerns about your care?

Contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

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