Are you experiencing swelling, burning or pain in the back of your ankle after a run or workout? You might have Achilles tendonitis, a common injury among athletes. But you might also suffer from it if you’re not an athlete, and your shoe choices can impact it.
You don’t necessarily have to do a complete footwear overhaul to go back to enjoying your life free of tendonitis, though.
A good pair of insoles can reduce the impact on your heels and correct your posture, relieving the pain. We picked out the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis in this review, as well as other solutions.
If you’re in a hurry to get back up and running, these are the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis;
What To Know Before Buying Insoles for Achilles Tendonitis
To know how to treat Achilles tendonitis, you first have to understand what it is and what causes it. It’s a tough condition that can be slow to rehabilitate from, but with these tips, you’re well on your way.
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis
Achilles tendonitis is usually an overuse injury that comes from exercising, walking or running. Running uphill or on hard surfaces like concrete may also make you more prone to it. But there are some conditions that can make it more likely that you’ll get tendonitis, including muscle weakness, obesity and some medications.
You may also have an unnatural gait as a result of flat feet, poor footwear or bad habits. This might make your heel strike against the pavement too hard, especially when running, and worsen your Achilles tendonitis. Shoes that are too big or worn-out are also risk factors.
How to Prevent Achilles Tendonitis
Though you can’t be sure you’ll rid yourself of tendonitis forever, there are some good ways to prevent it:
- Proper footwear. See a podiatrist if you’re not sure what kind of shoes you need.
- Warm up. Make sure your joints and muscles are ready for exercise.
- Vary your exercises. Don’t run every day if you can avoid it, and mix it with other types of exercises.
- Increase activity slowly. Too much of a new sport or training when you’re out of shape puts you at risk of tendonitis.
- Leg warmers. Training in cold weather can be tougher on your tendons, so keep them warm.
- Stretch every day. Loosening up tight calf muscles can help avoid Achilles tendonitis.
As with everything, consistency is more important for Achilles tendonitis recovery than anything else. Always take it slow and increase your activity, even your stretches, gradually.
How To Treat Achilles Tendonitis
If you’re going through a bout of inflammation in your Achilles tendon, the first thing you should do to treat it is rest. It’s important to stop running for a while to prevent putting unnecessary stress on the tendons.
Ice and keeping your foot elevated also help get the pain under control. If it’s bad, you can also take some over-the-counter pain medication. And if the pain doesn’t go away or gets too bad to walk, see a doctor to rule out other issues.
For a longer-term solution, your podiatrist will likely recommend you to switch to better footwear. The best insoles for Achilles tendonitis can also help you keep yourself pain-free.
You can also do some Achilles tendon rehab exercises to strengthen and stretch the muscles and tendons in the area. And don’t forget to always warm up your legs and feet before strenuous exercise.
What To Look For in Insoles for Achilles Tendonitis
If it’s your first time buying insoles for Achilles tendonitis, you might still be a little confused about what to look for. Here are some tips.
Some of the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis are full-length and include arch support. Others are heel lifts that only cover the back of your foot.
If you don’t need more than just to alleviate a bit of the pressure from the back of your foot, we recommend looking into the smaller heel lifts. They’re also more comfortable and discreet in narrower dress shoes, especially women’s shoes.
But if your arches need support or you need to correct pronation issues, go for a full-length insole. These can be especially helpful to use for high-impact sports, such as running.
Sometimes, people develop Achilles tendonitis because they have one leg that’s slightly shorter than the other. This disparity can alter your gait and put an excessive amount of pressure on one side.
Some heel lifts have an adjustable height. This means you can customize the lift to your exact preference and leg length, trying out the different heights until you feel comfortable.
You can also consult your doctor to find out exactly how big of a difference you have in your foot length before making your purchase.
Usually, you’ll find insoles and inserts made of either soft EVA foam or gel. Some of them also have a more rigid layer of plastic on the outside or the middle to help keep the shape intact. They may also include a mixture of materials, textures and even air bubbles.
EVA foam usually feels nice and soft against your foot, but it often loses its shape the fastest. Gel can retain its shape longer, but it’ll usually feel a little squishier under your foot. Some people don’t like this feeling, especially when working out. Gel is also usually not as breathable as foam.
Other Solutions for Achilles Tendonitis
If you’re wearing your insoles but they’re still not enough to give you relief, you can also check out these additional options to keep your feet pain-free.
These devices look incredibly uncomfortable and not like something you’d want to keep on your feet all night. But night splints can really help with heel pain, especially if you have tight calves.
Many of us tend to sleep with our feet slightly extended as if we were on tiptoes. Especially if you have a heavy blanket or you keep your sheets tight, you might be keeping your feet in this awkward position.
When you do this every night, you might cause your calves to get excessively tight. This, in turn, can worsen your Achilles tendonitis and other heel problems.
Shin splints help you keep your feet at a perfect 90-degree angle all night to give your calves a slight stretch. They often provide immediate relief, but they’re ideal for long-term use with insoles to keep yourself free of pain permanently.
Ankle Compression Sleeve
If you need a bit of extra support for your workout, an ankle compression sleeve can help. It’s essentially a compressive sock that keeps your foot in place when moving, helping prevent injury. But they can also reduce swelling and pain from Achilles tendonitis and other heel issues.
An Achilles strap provides some tension and support on your foot, but only on the Achilles tendon. Unlike a full compression sleeve, these straps can reduce pain without wrapping your entire foot up in a tight bandage. Depending on your injury, the isolated support can also be more comfortable and provide more relief.
Reviews of the Best Insoles for Achilles Tendonitis
These are our top picks for the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis. We’ve included both full-length and half-length models, made from gel and EVA foam, for all needs.
These high-quality memory foam heel lifts are ideal for relieving pain from your Achilles tendon. They’re not more expensive than what you’d find in your local drug store, but better quality.
Customers are generally happy with how much these heel lifts help with their Achilles tendonitis. Another perk of this model is the feel, that’s not as squishy as other models, especially those made from gel. It also molds to the shape of your foot, giving you the ideal fit.
These heel lift insoles come in three different sizes for men and women, but you can also cut the heel a little narrower if needed. This can be especially useful for women’s dress shoes.
They include three removable layers that are easy to detach to adjust the height. Each one is ¼-inch, so you can lift your heel a total of ¾ inches to correct differences in leg length. The package also includes double-sided adhesive tape, so you can really do the customization any way you want.
Some customers do note that the adhesive that comes in the package doesn’t work. You may need to use a stronger tape to keep the layers together.
- Memory foam that doesn’t get deformed quickly with use.
- High-quality materials.
- Adjustable height.
- Non-squishy feel.
- The adhesive isn’t strong, the layers may move around.
These insoles are designed to fix another common overuse injury in athletes’ feet, plantar fasciitis. But heel problems often go together, so it’s possible you’re suffering from pain behind your heel as well as under it.
The Walk Hero insoles include a deep heel cup to keep your foot in place when walking or running. The heel includes a thick layer of foam cushioning to soften the impact, so these insoles are great for high-impact sports as well.
They also have a lot of arch support, so if you also experience pain in your arches, these can help alleviate it. It’s not completely rigid, so it tends to mold to your feet without issues. If you need higher support, though, these might not be ideal.
These insoles also include an antibacterial cover that helps keep odors at bay. It has a velvety soft feel, but some customers do note that it’s not as durable as the rest of the insole. You might get some peeling of the fabric after a while of use.
- Soft antibacterial cover.
- Arch support.
- Deep, cushioned heel cup.
- The cover fabric can start peeling off.
Dr. Scholl’s makes these orthotic inserts for your heels from a gel that maintains its shape for a long time. They also have a shock guard at the heel to offer even more impact resistance.
This design is only meant to give you a heel lift and absorb impact, but it doesn’t give support to your arches. However, you can use it on top of your old insole and get the benefit of both your preferred arch support and the elevated heel.
They’re longer than most heel lifts, at about ¾ of the length of your shoe. At the forefoot area, there are some holes to improve ventilation. However, these inserts can definitely make your feet sweat quite a bit, mainly because the gel itself is not the most breathable material.
- Gel insert that maintains its shape for longer.
- Shock guard technology to protect the heel.
- Usable with arch support insoles.
- Not the most breathable.
- Minimal arch support.
These insoles are ideal for those who need high arch support, with 1.18 inches of elevation at the highest point of the insole. They include a highly contoured fit with a deep heel cup that helps keep your foot in place. It corrects your gait if you have pronation issues.
We recommend these insoles, especially for running, walking and gym workouts, because of their highly cushioned design. The cover is sweat-absorbing, breathable fabric that keeps your feet relatively dry in sweaty scenarios.
As for the rest of the insole, it has two layers of EVA foam and a harder TPU layer in the middle. The foam is generally good quality, but it’ll still thin out in use over a couple of months. You’ll have to replace the insoles regularly, and they’re not the lowest-priced model in our review.
Just keep in mind that these types of rigid arch support insoles can be too high if your feet are flat. They’ll require some getting used to, so make sure to break them in first. You can keep them on for shorter periods at home for a couple of days or weeks, or until you feel comfortable enough to run in them.
- Corrective design for pronation problems.
- High arch support.
- Sweat-absorbing cover.
- The foam tends to thin out quickly.
- Rigid arch support, can be painful for some.
These adjustable heel lifts are a low-priced option that fits most shoe types, from athletic to dressy and casual. We recommend them for people, especially women, who have small differences in leg length or only experience heel problems on one side.
The insoles are adjustable and come with three separate gel layers of ⅕ inches you can easily peel off if needed. You can also opt for the two-layer model if you need a little less lift under your foot. Just note that there’s no arch support, but you can also pair them with a more supportive insole.
What customers love about this model is that it’s small and low-profile, and easy to slip into any shoe, even heels. They’re also easy to cut to narrower shapes for women’s feet. The fabric is super soft and comfortable under your foot and doesn’t make you sweat too much.
- Adjustable, with three different layers.
- Small and easy to use with all types of shoes.
- Soft, comfortable fabric.
- No arch support.
These heel inserts from Eacozy are our top pick for those suffering from Achilles tendonitis who are on a budget. They come in a four-pack of small gel inserts that stick onto the top of your shoe, keeping your heel elevated and cushioning impact.
The heel cup is slightly molded to keep your heel in place, but it’s not as pronounced as on many other models. This can be ideal for small, narrow shoes, especially for women.
On the other hand, it also allows for more movement of your foot inside the shoe. When you’re running, it can impact your gait, so we don’t recommend these for sports.
Note that these heel inserts are made from a gel and aren’t covered with fabric, so they can feel a little squishy and sweaty under the foot. They can also smell a little when you first take them out of their package. The material is latex-free, though, so even those with allergies can use them.
- Affordable 4-pack.
- Comes with an adhesive to stick on your shoe.
- Fits well in narrow shoes.
- Latex-free gel for those with allergies.
- Can have a chemical smell.
- Slightly squishy and sweaty feel under the foot.
These SQHT Height Increase insoles are half-length, lifting your heels a little to alleviate the pain in your heels. They’re small and discreet, easy to slip inside your shoes and a good pick for everyday wear.
They’re not adjustable, but they come in different heights, from 0.6 inches to 1.4 inches. If you’re not sure about what the right elevation for you is, you’ll have to buy several pairs to try them, and it can get expensive.
These insoles are made from a gel material, and they have a honeycomb design in the bottom to absorb shock better. They’re also covered with a sweat-absorbing fabric, but the gel itself is not the most breathable.
Some customers comment on the honeycomb design falling apart after little use. It’s not always the most durable, but in general, customers are happy with these insoles and say they’ve provided a lot of relief.
- Comes in different heights for leg length imbalances.
- Small and discreet.
- Honeycomb design to soften impact.
- Sweat-absorbing fabric cover.
- No way to adjust the height.
- The honeycomb design can start to crumble.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Walking Barefoot Cause Achilles Tendonitis?
Walking barefoot can be a risk factor for Achilles tendonitis because you won’t have any cushioning for your heels. If you walk long distances, it’s best to protect your feet with shoes and insoles. And it’s also good to stay away from barefoot-style, minimalist running shoes.
Can Shoes Cause Achilles Tendonitis?
Yes, shoes can cause Achilles tendonitis, especially if you have other underlying issues, like flat feet. Old and worn shoes or insoles, or buying the wrong kind, won’t provide enough cushioning for your heels. If you walk, train or run with these shoes for a longer period, you’re almost certain to have some issues.
Can I Workout With Achilles Tendonitis?
You can work out with Achilles tendonitis. But if you’re experiencing a flare-up, it might be good to stay off whatever activity it was that gives you pain. Running, especially hill running, can seriously slow down your recovery, as well as jumping. Try cycling, yoga or swimming instead, or hit the weights at the gym instead.
What Is the Fastest Way To Heal Achilles Tendonitis?
The fastest and best way to heal Achilles tendonitis is with rest, ice and stretching. Switch your activities to low-impact ones and always keep your insoles in your shoes to speed up the recovery.
Will Achilles Tendonitis Ever Go Away?
Achilles tendonitis can go away, but it requires patience and work. An inflamed or ruptured Achilles tendon can take months to heal, so it’s possible you’ll have to stay away from your favorite sport through that period.
Our top pick for the best insoles for Achilles tendonitis is the Makryn Premium Adjustable Orthopedic Heel Lift. It’s a quality insole at a great price, highly customizable and durable.
These insoles include three removable 1/4-inch layers, so you can customize the lifts to your preference. And if you have a small imbalance in leg length, they’re also easy to modify for both feet separately.