Orthotics are a viable choice to look at if you suffer from plantar fasciitis. Now there are a few different orthotic choices out on the market. This article will guide you through some of the best orthotic options on the market. Note, I’m not a medical practitioner so in no way take my advice over that of a trained professional. I’ve suffered from plantar fasciitis for a couple years myself, so I’ve been through all the hops. This article (and website) are the product of my own struggles with plantar fasciits.
Heel Pads and Cushions for Plantar Fasciitis
Heel Pads are one of the more common treatment solutions. These are basically inserts that you put in your shoe that help to absorb the shock of impact on your heel when you walk. You have a couple options: Heel Pads made from silicone, leather, polyethylene foams, thermoplastics, and polyvinlye chloride. Silcone Heel Pads are pretty common off-the shelf products you can find in most drugstores.
There are a couple “main types”: Fat Pad Soft Heel Cups and Hard Plastic Heel Cups.
When to Use Fat Pad Soft Heel Cups
Not all plantar fasciitis conditions are the same (i.e. you could be suffering pain in different areas of the heel because the tear ligaments are in different locations). If you have plantar calcaneal bursitis or plantar heel spur syndrome, then use of Fat Pad Soft Heel cups is recommended.
If you are looking for specific product recommendations for soft heel cups, here’s our take:
These are very well reviewed online and MANY people who suffer from plantar fasciitis swear by Tuli cups. You can get Tuli cups for specific weights which is great since the cups are then not a one-size-fits-all. If you have bone spur discomfort, Achilles tendonitis, or plantar fasciitis, Tuli is a good bet. What’s great is that these are only about 9 dollars each – pretty cheap.
HTP Heel Seats
These are the best Heel cup inserts we’ve yet found online. They also have the best ratings and most reviews on Amazon.com They are more expensive than some of the other alternatives, but they are formatted specifically for plantar fasciitis and are comfortable and very effective. I myself have used a pair of these for a few months and would hands down recommend these as probably the most cost effective treatment for plantar fasciitis on the market (plantar shoes are ‘better’ in some ways, but they can be expensive).
Anti-Shox Silicone Heel Cradles
These are recommended by a variety of health professionals. I’ve never used them, but I’ve had other people say they are pretty good for treating plantar fasciitis. The key feature these have over some of the other brands is that they offer particularly good shock absorption. If you want to do heavy activities like running or jumping when your plantar fascia is inflamed, the Anti-Shox Silicone Heel cradles are a good bet.
When to Use Hard Plastic Heel Cups
In some cases, you may suffer from Fat Pad atrophy. This is basically a condition where the ball of the foot that helps to cushion the bones in your feet gets reduced or degraded in some way. This contributes to intense pain when walking. To use Hard Plastic Heel cups, you should position them under the Calcaneus (see picture).
Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis
You can find a huge variety of orthotics (also called Orthosis) that will act as shock absorption and foot support. These include heel cushions, custom foot orthotics, dynamic foot insoles.
Shoe Inserts for Plantar Fasciitis (Pre-Made Orthotics)
These are basically special shoe inserts that can provide foot support. Many are constructed from special neoprene.
There are a few tips to keep in mind before choose a good pair of shoe inserts
- Expensive Doesn’t Always Equal the Best Shoe Inserts — There are a lot of shoe insert companies out there and many of them charge overinflated prices for cheap shoe inserts. Don’t base your choice of shoe inserts just on price alone. You may find that a 20 dollar shoe insert does just as good a job as say a 70 dollar shoe insert
- Buy A Reputable Brand – I’ve noticed a lot of no-name companies offering shoe inserts for sale online. However, many of these companies don’t have any sort of reputation. Chances are, their products are made from cheap material and won’t live up to the advertisements. I recommend you look at shoe inserts that have good reviews AND are manufactured by a reputable business.
- Comfort is Important – One thing that must be said: there is no point in wearing shoe inserts if they are not comfortable. Don’t just buy a pair of inserts and wear them if they are uncomfortable. Make sure they fit correctly (some inserts target specific weights — if you are a 200lbs man, you would get a different insert than a 100lbs woman, say)
Recommended Shoe Inserts
These are our recommended shoe inserts for plantar fasciitis. The recommendations come my own research into what inserts people are finding the most effective for plantar fasciitis and the positive feedback left on this site. There are a lot of bogus products on the market and we have tried to recommend inserts that come from reputable companies with a solid history behind them.
Feature list from the manufacturer:
- Heel cradle and platform guards heel on impact
- Strong springy supports calibrated for comfort
- EVA casing for long life from heel to toe
- Heat and slip reducing fabric for dryness
These inserts have a stellar reputation and over 71 customer reviews on Amazon with a 4.5/5 rating. Powerstep Pinnacle Orthotics are probably the most popular, well received shoe inserts on the market. Quite a few individuals who suffer from plantar fasciitis say these shoe inserts do the best job. These inserts are not only effective at reducing plantar fascia pain, but are also comfortable too (something that you don’t always get). At $22+ dollars a pair, they can be more expensive than some of the other options you find, but we recommend these as the best shoe inserts for plantar fasciitis in terms of price, effectiveness and quality.
Spenco shoe insoles offer great shock absorption and a good deal of comfortability. The Spenco brand has a great reputation online and plenty of positive reviews on Amazon (over 60 reviews with a 4.5/5 rating across the board). They are also CHEAP at around $11 dollars.
Spenco insoles are geared for athletes or people who do sports often. Because they are formulated for heavy foot activity, they are probably the best buy if you have plantar fasciitis and want to do something foot intensive such as running. If budget is of concern, then go with the Spenco insoles.
Feature list from the manufacturer:
- Recommended footwear: Ski and snowboard boots, running and trail running shoes, hiking boots, work boots and walking shoes- all with removable insoles.
- Provides maximum support, stability and shock absorption, and is ideal for feet with medium to high arches.
- Extra deep cup cradles your heel’s fat pad for natural shock absorption, while the bio-mechanically correct arch shape provides comfortable support.
- Friction control top cover with AgION® antimicrobial treatment helps reduce odor-causing bacteria.
- Durable lightweight ¾ external polypropylene stabilizer cap provides optimum rear foot control and flexibility.
- Supports and aligns the bones of the foot, helping prevent heel pain, Plantar Fasciitis and other common foot problems.
- Each pair includes a User’s Guide with information on sizing and trimming your new insoles, and the package is recyclable.
Superfeet Premium insoles are more expensive than some of the other popular insole brands, but they offer the most features bar none. I’ve used a pair and love them. They offer maximum support, great stability, and a good deal of shock absorption. One feature I really like is that they have an antimicrobial material that reduced foot smells. Some of the other shoe insoles I’ve tried really leave your feet smelling bad after a long day of walking around. If you can afford these and you suffer from plantar fasciits, then buy them. They are the “best” in everything but price. Note that these are best for people with HIGH arched feet and not low arches!
Lynco orthotics have a good reputation online. They claim over 1 million people use their products. They are a good option for people with plantar fasciitis. However, they are twice the price of the Powerstep Pinnacle inserts and offer about the same functionality/features. Many health professionals do recommend these if you have plantar fasciitis.
If you have a serious foot injury or some special foot condition that make pre-made orthotics unusable, then custom-made foot orthosis is an option.
Custom Orthotics are (usually) made from:
- Leather – usually more comfortable and can absorb up to 30% of the weight before it feels wet
- Plastic – usually cheaper than leather
For plantar fasciitis, most people find that deep heel seat leather orthotics work well. Custom orthotics tend to be much more expensive than the shoe insert/shoe option. You should consult a foot specialist for your condition BEFORE you spend the money getting Custom foot orthotics made.
Plantar Fasciitis Night Splints (also known as Posterior Night Splints)
These are large splints (either plastic or some fabric) that fit over the leg and foot. They help to keep the plantar fascia stretched out. Wearing these can help prevent the stretching and contraction of the plantar fascia ligament, which allow the affected area to heal. Wearing a night splint to bed can help prevent the spikes of pain you first get upon waking up and first putting pressure on your foot when you get out of bed. It’s definitely worth having one if you suffer from foot pain around the heel area.
Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint Recommendations:
As for specific recommendations, we have a couple.