Insoles vs Custom Orthotics: What is the Difference?

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Insoles and Orthotics are the two most popular solutions for foot-related diseases and problems that people suffer.

They play a great role in relieving pain, swelling, and other foot-related infections and illnesses in a very efficient manner.

They also aid in improving the flat foot and other postural problems of the foot.

While insoles and orthotics are both used to provide better arch support and cushioning to your feet, the basic difference lies in their effectiveness.

Unlike insoles, orthotics are more effective in correcting the way you stand or walk.

orthotics and insoles

Insoles vs. Custom Orthotics

Insoles and Orthotics are often used interchangeably, and both indeed address similar feet or ankle problems.

But both of these are very different from each other.

This makes it very important to know the difference between them to choose the right cure for your illness.

Let’s look at the ways they both are different from each other.

What are Insoles?

Insoles are commonly known as arch supports and shoe inserts.

They are very popular for treating various foot-related problems and can be found easily in drug stores, pharmacies, and even at Wal-Mart.

They are generally made up of a soft material which is usually foam or a gel.

They lose their shape very easily, making it very important to replace them every 3-6 months.

They provide additional support to your feet by acting like a cushion which ultimately helps in curing various physical deformities in the feet.

These are widely and popularly used to cure the problem of fallen arches and reduce different types of excruciating foot pain.

The biggest drawback of insoles is that it is just a short-term cure and does not help eradicate the illness.


Usually, there are two kinds of insoles. They are known as support insoles and comfort insoles.

Support insoles are suggested for those with problems like overpronation, plantar fasciitis, splayed feet, or any other type of foot problem.

They also offer support, but because they are made of harder form, they render better stability and support.

Comfort insoles are suggested for those who have pain in feet after long hours of walking or standing.

They are crafted from soft foam or gel, rendering better shock absorption and cushioning.


Often people select insoles because of the benefits they get over orthotics. Things which users like about insoles are:

Easy access:

As stated earlier, insoles can be purchased from common places like grocery stores or drug shops.

So, if you are in need of one, you don’t have to wait too long. You can also buy one and use it at your convenience.


Insoles are ready to use and do not need any prescription for purchase. They render support and comfort to the user.


They are budget-friendly and cheaper in comparison to a foot specialist.


Durability and lifespan:

As they are cheap, they don’t last too long. You may need around 3 pairs in a year as one pair will not even work for 6 months.


As they are readymade, they don’t render arch support like the custom-made insoles, which are specifically crafted for you.

What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are similar to insoles in many ways, but they are usually made up of a firm and hard material, in most cases, plastic.

They aid in providing additional firmness and support to your feet, just like insoles.

While insoles do not have a long life and may get deformed after 6 months, orthotics can be used for more than 5 years.

They can easily be found in medical and grocery stores as they are very popular in curing different foot-related illnesses, posture problems, and pain and discomfort issue better than the insoles.

Their ability to cure the flat foot, pain, and other feet related issues is more efficient than insoles as they help to eradicate the root cause of the problem and do not simply work to provide short-term relief.

Moreover, the most interesting thing about custom orthotics is the fact that they can be customized to suit and fit your feet perfectly.

This is something that the traditional insoles in the stores do not provide.

Orthotics can greatly help in improving the way you walk because they help in evenly spreading the pressure around your feet, which ultimately improves you’re standing and walking posture in the long run.


Usually, orthotics can be segregated into accommodative and functional orthotics.

Accommodative orthotics are majorly used in correcting biomechanical walking issues in kids, but they can be used for adults too.

They come decked with a soft and supportive gadget to wipe out pain along with small foot problems. Some common examples are gait plates, braces as well as a splint.

Functional orthotics are manufactured from a plastic polymer material and are produced to support abnormal foot biomechanics, which may lead to abnormal foot pronation or arch flattening.

They are equally helpful in shock absorption by lowering the impact received by our foot from the ground when running or walking.

Hence, functional orthotics render support to the mid-foot and back foot. They are also helpful in correcting deformities and preventing frequent injuries.


Professionals suggest the use of orthotics because of several reasons. Some of them are given below:


To keep the orthotics effective, the insoles should be efficient.

The simple reason behind it is that they are crafted to target and fix a particular problem related to the feet of the user.


They can be customized and offer individualized corrections per the user’s condition.


The materials for manufacturing orthotics are chosen to work per the user’s needs and to easily go with their shoes.



As one requires professional assistance, it may require some time before you can use them on your own.


Customized orthotics are heavier in weight in comparison to readymade insoles due to the material used in making them.


As they are customized and made by specialists, they are costlier.

Insoles Vs. Orthotics: What To Choose?

When it comes to choosing between insoles or orthotics, it is good to know that both of them work well and can be chosen depending on the problem you have.

However, while both help perfectly in curing foot-related issues, custom orthotics are a better choice.

This is because it eradicates the root cause of the problem and helps you give a more permanent type of cure.

When choosing between insoles and orthotics, you may also come across a similar term: a shoe insert.

Insoles and inserts are quite similar to one another when talking about footwear comfort.

They are often used in place of one another, but they do have some differences.

Inserts are usually insoles designed to serve several purposes like comfort and joint pain relief.

Hence all inserts are insoles, but all insoles are not inserts.

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  • functional insoles vs accommodative insoles