Orthotics, Insoles and Inserts: A Comparative Guide

Our feet are one of the most used parts of our body, but sometimes we tend to take them for granted. Wearing the wrong kind of shoes, socks, or putting them under too much pressure can result to foot pain. When that happens, it can hinder us from going about our daily activities.

So, when you start feeling some pain or discomfort on your feet, you should find ways to alleviate the pain and prevent it from persisting.

In this article, there would be a comparative analysis between orthotics, insoles and inserts. Let’s enjoy it.

Insoles vs Orthotics: Comparative Analysis

In the next few minutes we discussed about Insoles and Orthotics in accordance with their uses, usefulness and drawbacks etc. So, Lets Know what are those.


An orthotic is also a type of insole but it is firmer and more supportive because it usually has some type of plastic material to support the arch of the foot. They are much more rigid than insoles because of the built-in arch support which maintains their shape even when pressed.

Unlike insoles which are easily accessible, orthotics are usually found in specialty stores or medical offices. They also provide support to the feet and control abnormal foot motion to prevent the foot from moving inward or outward. Aside from providing support, orthotics are also used to correct problems such as supination, pronation, ankle instability, as well as knee, hip, back, and even neck pains.

Types of Orthotics

Generally, orthotics can be categorized as functional orthotics and accommodative.

  • Functional orthotics are often made of supportive plastic polymer materials. They are designed to support abnormal foot biomechanics by preventing abnormal foot pronation or flattening of the arch. They also help with shock absorption by reducing the impact that our feet receive from the ground while walking or running. Basically, functional orthotics support the rear foot and the midfoot. They are used to correct deformities and help prevent repetitive injuries.
  • Accommodative orthotics are often used to correct biomechanical walking problems among children but they can also be used by anyone. They feature a soft, supportive device to alleviate mild pain and correct simple foot problems. Some examples of accommodative orthotics are braces, splints, and gait plates.

Pros and Cons

Specialists recommend the use of orthotics because of the following:


  • Effective. If insoles are effective, orthotics are even more because they are designed to target and fix a specific problem concerning the user’s feet.
  • Custom-fit. They are more personalized and ensure individualized correction of the users’ condition.
  • Materials. The materials used can be specifically selected to work well for the user and to go with the user’s shoes.

However, there are also some drawbacks to using orthotics:


  • Time Consuming. Since professional service is required, it may take some time before you can use them.
  • Weight. Custom made orthotics tend to be more bulky than ready made insoles because of the materials they are made of.
  • Cost. Since they are custom-made and done by specialists, they are more expensive.


One of the immediate relief that most people often try are insoles. An insole is a removable layer that is placed inside the shoe to provide support and add comfort. It comes in different shapes and sizes and can also differ depending on the support level that it can offer.

Insoles are easily accessible. They can be bought from shoe stores, athletic stores, and even in groceries and drug stores. Sometimes, they are also referred to as inserts or arch supports. What they do is they provide minor support and additional cushioning for comfort, but they may provide little or no support to the arch of the foot.

Types of Insoles

There are basically two types of insoles, comfort insoles and support insoles.

  • Comfort insoles are recommended for people who complain from aching feet after prolonged periods of standing or walking. They are usually made with gel or soft foam that is why they are good for shock absorption and cushioning.
  • Support insoles are recommended for people who have issues such as overpronation, splayed feet, plantar fasciitis, and other foot ailments. They also provide comfort, but since they are made with harder foam, they also add support and stability.

Pros and Cons

Some people chose insoles because of the advantages that they have over orthotics. What most users like about insoles are the following:


  • Ease of Access. As mentioned earlier, insoles can be bought in common places, even in groceries and drug stores. So, if you need insoles, you do not have to wait longer. You can get one and use them as soon as possible.
  • Effective. Insoles, even those which are ready made and non-prescription are effective in providing support and comfort.
  • Cost. They are affordable and substantially cheaper compared to seeing a foot specialist.

However, there are also some disadvantages of using insoles:


  • Durability and Longevity. Since they come cheap, especially those bought from drug stores, they also do not last very long. In a year, you might need to get about 3 pairs as one pair do not even last for 6 months.
  • Generic. Since they are ready-made, they do not support your arch as much as you like, unlike when you use a custom-made which is specifically built for you.


Insoles and Inserts are pretty familiar name to you if you are interested in comfort regarding your footwear. They are often mentioned as same, though have some differences.

Inserts are basically insoles which also aim to accomplish a number of purposes including comfort and foot and joint pain relief.

So all inserts are obviously insoles but all insoles are not inserts.

Choosing the Best Insole

In order to know the right insole to buy, you must identify the reason why you need one in the first place. Do you need insoles which can help alleviate pain in your feet? Are you looking for insoles which you can use for your sports activities? Do you always experience footwear fit problems when buying and wearing shoes for the first time? Or are you simply looking for a regular insole to replace the built-in insoles of your shoes?

It is important to know why do you need insoles and how do you intend to use them so that you will not waste money and effort in buying the wrong one. It will also help to know the types of insoles so that you can tell the difference of each and know which one might suit you best.


Having discussed the differences of insoles and orthotics as well as looking at their own pros and cons, it is now a matter of personal preference. Whether you will choose insoles over orthotics or vice versa, the important thing is that it can address whatever problems you may have with your feet.

Hope you will find this comparison of Orthotics vs Insoles and Inserts valuable. Share this in social media and with your friends to help them too. Enjoy.

Related Post 

1. Learn How to Clean Shoe Insoles Effectively

2. Best Insoles for Work Boots: Guide To Choose the Right One

3. Best Memory Foam Insoles For Extra Support & Cushioning