If your feet ache at the end of a long day, you’re not alone. The majority of adults will occasionally experience foot pain. There’s always a solution for foot pain, and finding the right solution comes from identifying the cause of that pain.

Shoe insoles are often billed as the perfect way to prevent foot pain, especially for people who work on their feet. Although shoe insoles may be helpful for some people, they aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between orthotics and shoe insoles.

What is a Shoe Insole?

A shoe insole is an insert designed to be placed inside of a shoe. Most inserts are made to provide cushioning to the foot. They make shoes more comfortable and absorb a small amount of shock with every step.

What is an Orthotic?

Orthotics are custom made devices that can be placed into your shoes. They’re designed to provide tailored structural support to your feet when you walk. If you have flat feet, very high arches, or a structural deformity of your foot, orthotics can help to correct your feet and make standing or walking more comfortable.

Can You Buy Shoe Insoles or Orthotics at a Store?

If your feet hurt, you’ve probably looked around for a quick and easy solution. You’ll find a lot of insoles online and in big box stores that seem to be orthotics. Don’t buy anything just yet.

Orthotics are insoles, but not all insoles are orthotics. If you see something on a display rack at a store that claims to be an orthotic shoe insole, it isn’t. Orthotics need to be made specifically for the person who is going to wear them. General fit orthotics are impossible.

Anything you find as a packaged solution is a regular insole. Insoles are the right solution in some cases, but people with significant or recurring foot pain will find that shoe insoles miss the mark.

When to Use Shoe Insoles

The shoes you wear everyday need to be comfortable, supportive, and appropriate for the activities you’ll be doing. There is no replacement for a shoe that fits properly. There may be occasions where you need to wear shoes you wouldn’t ordinarily wear, like dress shoes. It’s not always easy to find comfortable dress shoes.

Shoe insoles can be used to make these types of shoes a little more comfortable while you’re wearing them. They’re good for occasional use where people have otherwise healthy feet.

People who experience foot pain after they’ve been standing for several hours might also benefit from the comfort that shoe insoles provide. People who work as servers are an excellent example. If your feet start to ache towards the end of your shift, switch up your routine. Get a pair of perfectly fitted comfortable shoes and use an insole for a little extra support.

Shoe insoles wear down rather quickly with regular use, and they take on the smell of sweat very quickly. You should throw out your used insoles and replace them with new ones every six months or so.

When To Use Orthotics

If you experience foot pain no matter what pair of shoes you wear, this is a sign that something is wrong. You need to visit a podiatrist or an orthotist to figure out what’s causing your foot pain. If you have a structural deformity of your foot or a condition that causes foot pain, you’ll need custom orthotics.

Custom orthotics are designed for daily use. They’re prescription medical devices designed to correct foot pain at the source. You insert them into every shoe you wear. You’ll work with an orthotist to make sure your orthotics are comfortable at all times.

Orthotics last a long time. In most cases, a pair of custom orthotics will last about three years before needing adjustment or replacement.

How to Get Custom Orthotics

The process of custom orthotics begins with an examination of your feet. If your doctor believes that orthotics would be the best solution for you, you’ll be given a prescription for orthotic shoe inserts.

If you’re in the Tucson area, bring your prescription to Tony Martin Limb & Brace. We’ll use high tech scanning equipment to make a comprehensive digital image of your foot. We’ll use this scan to design custom tailored orthotics that will provide you with the support you need to correct your gait and walk comfortably.


We’ll follow up with you regularly throughout the process. We can help you establish a schedule that will allow you to adapt to your new orthotics. If necessary, we can adjust your orthotics to maximize the support and comfort they provide.


Call us today for a consultation. You’re one step away from relief.