How to Select Shoe Inserts for Back & Foot Pain

Written by jim hagerty
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How to Select Shoe Inserts for Back & Foot Pain
Heel Cups Help Add Support to Your Heel and Achilles tendon (

Back and foot pain are often the result of poorly fitted shoes. Finding the proper shoes, however, can be a tedious and expensive process. Shoe inserts can stop pain and discomfort. All you need is some basic understanding of the types of inserts on the market and how they are applied. This knowledge will help you avoid spending thousands of dollars on orthopaedic shoes, pain medication and repetitive visits to your doctor that may not be necessary.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Identify pain sources. Before you can begin to know which type of shoe insert you need, you must identify which of your shoes cause the most pain in specific areas. For example, if you have a pair of suede loafers that cause your lower back to throb every time you wear them, you'll need a specific type of insert for that pair of shoes. If your gym shoes cause severe pain in your heels, you may need another type of insert for those shoes.

  2. 2

    Start with arch supports. Arch supports often provide comfort for a variety of foot and back pain. They help gently raise your arches as you walk, keeping pressure off of your knees, ankles, heels and back. Arch supports generally do not alter the mechanics of your feet and are usually very safe and affordable. Make sure to buy supports that snugly fit into your shoes.

  3. 3

    Consider heel wedges. Heel wedges are set into the back of your shoes (see image). They help take pressure off of your ankles and the tops of your feet by slightly raising your heels. They also add support to your Achilles tendons and relieve pain in your plantar areas. Heel cups are similar and also effective.

  4. 4

    Aim for total comfort and protection. Although a simple pair of heel wedges or arch supports may be all you need to end discomfort, the best way to alleviate lower back and foot pain is to find an insert that provides complete balance and comfort for your entire foot. Look for inserts that cover the entire inside of your shoes and give you an even amount of cushion and support (see Resources). Make sure inserts fit properly, paying close attention to the size indicated on the packaging. Correctly fitted, inserts help evenly distribute your body weight as you walk.

  5. 5

    Consider chiropractic treatment. Many foot and back problems are the result of a misaligned spine, neck and other parts of the body. Chiropractic treatment, coupled with shoe inserts, is often an effective way to alleviate foot and back pain.

Tips and warnings

  • Avoid wearing shoes that cause chronic pain to your back and feet. Prolonged pressure could cause long-term health problems. Choose comfort over aesthetics.
  • Always make sure inserts fit properly before walking in them.
  • If you have chronic foot and back problems, consult with your doctor before using shoe inserts.
  • This article does not provide medical advice. If discomfort and minor pain become severe, contact your physician or other health-care provider immediately.

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