Knee pain is an irritating beast that feels impossible to tame. We can alleviate it, though, with insoles—most of the time, and not with every insole.
We’re going to take you through the best insoles for knee pain that will help with fatigue or injury-induced irritation. Insoles won’t work for arthritis, but any other agony, and they’re your saviors.
The best insoles for knee pain are:
What To Look for in Insoles for Knee Pain
Feet have three types of arches: high, low and regular. They all need equal support, and there are insoles for every type. The insoles we’re examining today are suitable for an array of arches, so be sure to select the one that’s best for you.
Here’s a test to determine your arch type.
The Wet Test
Go outside where there’s dry, light-colored concrete that will darken when wet. Bring a bucket or basin of water with you and ensure you’re barefoot with a towel nearby.
Step into the water with one or both feet, ensuring they get thoroughly soaked. Then step directly onto the concrete and start walking for a few steps.
Examine your footprints once you get out.
- Low arches: Your footprint will have no caps and form a solid foot shape.
- Neutral arches: There’ll be a slight dip inwards on the inside area of your foot and a thin line or small gap between your footprints and toeprints.
- High arches: The tip inwards from above will be deeper, with possibly nothing more than a line making up your footprint on the outside area of the foot. You’re also likely to have a large gap between your foot and toe prints.
When in doubt, consult a podiatrist or see if a shoe store will check your arch type.
Knee pain often comes with one of the conditions named above, so it’s vital you keep them at bay. If you suffer from these conditions currently, then you definitely need a heel cup to keep your foot in place.
If you want a soothing sensation as you walk, consider a gel insole. The gel is more fluid, and it has a force of its own when compressed. Depending on the gel in the insole, it may massage your feet as you walk, too.
Your other option is foam, which eventually compresses and is harder to clean but is still fantastic. Most insoles are foam or a mixture of foam and gel. These are the insoles to go for if you’re not looking for anything fancy.
Some insoles are a one-size-fits-all deal, but it’s easy to go wrong when trimming them down to size. Look for insoles that come in different sizes to ensure they fit.
However, shoe length isn’t the only worry you should have. Sometimes insoles come far thinner or wider than your shoes, so be sure to look out for width reports from customers. It’s no good getting a regular insole if you have wide feet.
The insoles below all fit regular feet, or Size D for men and B for women. If those letters threw you off, read our article on what does shoe width letters mean for a refresher.
If you wear lots of different shoes day by day, look for a versatile insole that will fit any shoe type. Some insoles are made for specific brands or shoe types, but you want something that can take you from the gym to the office to the office party.
Look for thin but sturdy insoles that hold a regular shoe’s shape, top and bottom. A rounded top is fine if you have shoes with pointy toes—so long as your toes remain on the insole when worn.
Just be sure to get one you’re sure can fit in all of your shoes. Plus, before you use the insoles, check them in all of your shoes to ensure you won’t need to buy multiple brands to do the same job.
What Else To Consider for Knee Pain
The Journal of the American Medical Association is quick to state that insoles do next to nothing for knee pain—if it’s caused by arthritis. Although some insoles are designed to reduce pressure on your knees, they don’t always work.
In fact, walking barefoot is far better for your knees than wearing insoles, if you have arthritis. Consider walking barefoot as often as you can at home.
To relieve knee pain for the rest of the time, consider:
- Resting the area as much as possible.
- Wearing a knee support or knee-covering compression socks.
- Doing heat and ice therapy when you’re stationary.
- Avoiding high heels.
- Taking a mild over-the-counter pain reliever before spending substantial time on your feet.
Reviews of the Best Insoles for Knee Pain
As mentioned above, arches causing pronation issues can be a real pain on the foot, calf, knee and beyond. So, our top pick has support for one of the peskiest arch types: high.
Made for men, these insoles will support your high arches in any casual or athletic shoe. They’re quite thick, so we recommend removing the shoe’s built-in insole before use. As well as that, we encourage women not to shy away from these insoles either. A quick men’s to women’s shoe size conversion chart can help you out here.
Once on, you’ll find the insoles not only support your arches but your heels, too. There’s a gentle heel cup for your foot to sit in, ensuring stability. Then you get shock absorption and energy rebound along the sides of your foot, moving out from your heel.
The paired stability and energy return keeps your feet stabler for longer and helps you keep energy in your walk. These are fantastic insoles for being on your feet all day. Although if that’s your concern, consider some other best shoe inserts for standing all day.
Part of what makes these insoles usable for the all-day walker is their lightweight nature. Though thick and made of dense foam, they won’t drag your feet down or keep speed out of your step.
Users found them functional for eight-hour days of standing and walking. Others found the insoles fantastic for early or late-stage plantar fasciitis. They’re not great when you’re deep in the painful moments of suffering—for that, you’ll probably need custom orthotics. But if your plantar fasciitis is milder, these are great for reducing strain on the feet, knees and hips.
That said, they’re a bit narrow, so if you have wide feet, then they’re not for you.
- Incredible at easing mild plantar fasciitis and related aches.
- Adds energy to your step.
- Great for standing all day.
- Support high arches.
- Fantastic heel stability and deep heel cup.
- Too narrow for some people.
Coming down to a neutral or low arch in insoles for men and women alike, these may suit you better if your arch isn’t the issue. These inserts are podiatrist-recommended to help ease foot pain and deal with pronation issues and all types of pain, including knee.
When the over-pronation occurs, an aching body follows. So, you need to correct it by supporting your arch and the sides of your feet with an insole like this.
The gentle heel cup with raised sides extending from it keeps you stable. The heel platform is thick and angled, specifically designed to stop your ankles and feet from rolling to the inside.
Outside of the support, the insole adds comfort, which can help with bunions and calluses, and wear and tear in general. It’s a foamy insole, so it will eventually compress, and it won’t massage your feet as you walk, but it will add some relief. The foam is firm enough to support you but soft enough, so you feel like you’re walking on something comfortably squishy.
The EVA foam absorbs shock, too, helping you keep pain further at bay and stay active for longer. The absorption is targeted to the parts of your feet that take the most strain, as is the cushioning.
It’s all wrapped in antimicrobial polyester, ensuring a soft fit in all types of shoes, even without socks. They’re made for use in every shoe and the manufacturers encourage you to move them from pair to pair, implying you only need one set of these insoles.
We’re inclined to believe it, as the ant-bacterial properties and moisture-wicking nature of the insoles may make them last longer. Users get a highly functional few months out of them, noting they replace them to be safe and not out of need.
For those few months, the insoles work well for foot and knee pain, along with mild plantar fasciitis and its symptoms.
That said, some people found the insoles difficult to get used to. They found the heel shape made to prevent pronation threw them off balance at the start. Most users eventually get used to this, but if you’re clumsy, have dyspraxia or perhaps have dizzy spells, then these aren’t your perfect fit.
- Podiatrist-recommended for alleviating knee pain.
- Work for plantar fasciitis.
- Antimicrobial polyester coating.
- Shock-absorbing EVA foam construction.
- Work for every type of shoe.
- Difficult to get used to.
- May throw you off balance.
These insoles are made for athletes who need constant and rigid support to keep them stable when playing. Although they’re foam, these Spenco insoles are thin and dense to ensure you get plastic-level support, according to some customers.
Alongside this hard construction comes a long lifespan. The insoles are guaranteed for a year, so you won’t have to replace them often and if you do, the company can help out with that.
It’s not just suitability for athleticism and a long life that makes these insoles great, though. They have tough support for regular and low arches, although some users found them slightly too high.
Behind that arch support, there’s a deep heel cup with tall sides that holds the heel in place well. The sides of the insoles are shaped to suck the heel in and ensure it doesn’t slip around when you’re moving.
Despite being jammed into the insoles as well as your sweaty sports socks and shoes, you won’t have trouble with sweating. There are breathable areas in the insoles, mainly around the toes, in the form of air holes. You shouldn’t suffer from sweaty feet or pain in any regard.
Part of the pain reduction comes from how the insoles are made to combat all manner of pronation issues. The insoles offer incredible motion control to ensure you have a healthy gait when walking, running and even moving laterally. This is for injury prevention in your sports games, but it can tackle pre-existing irritation like your knee pain.
However, you may want to buy these insoles alongside a new pair of shoes. Users say you need to size up your shoes to accommodate the bulk of the insole. This won’t make your shoes ill-fitting, your insole will fill them out and your feet fit on the insoles. It’ll be annoying if you’re not planning on replacing your shoes any time soon, though.
You should also avoid them if you like lots of cushioning. Most users state that there’s not enough, especially in the heel.
- Fantastic for sports.
- Prevents pain as well as alleviates it.
- Great for stopping pronation and supination.
- Rigid arch support for neutral and low arches.
- Long lifespan and a one-year warranty.
- You’ll need to go up a size in your shoes to fit them properly.
- Lacks adequate heel cushioning.
For those of you seeking comfort in your athletic shoes, these are some insoles to consider. They’re less about rigid support and more about adequate cushioning to help keep your feet cozy and pain-free.
These insoles function fantastically. They are made from EVA foam and full of support under your heel and the ball of your foot. They also absorb shock, which is supposed to keep your foot stable.
As far as support goes, these are more subtle insoles. The arch support isn’t anything extreme, it’s there for neutral and low arches, but that’s all. They’re not made to fix your pain or keep it away; these are support-centric shoes.
Adding adequate support to your feet has the side effect of getting rid of knee and other pain, though, which is excellent.
Users found these insoles work great in many types of shoes, but not narrow shoes. They also noticed that the insoles run large and are heavy. If you need to be light on your feet, look at any of the insoles above and avoid the Birko Sports.
If that’s not an issue for you, then the insoles are wonderful in and out of sports shoes. Users encourage you to experiment with the types of shoes you use these in, as they’re multi-functional and could fit a shoe that you’d never expect needed insoles.
- Add great comfort to sports shoes.
- Versatile, can move from shoe to shoe.
- Shock absorbing properties.
- Adequate, not rigid, arch support for neutral and low arches.
- Supporting the feet with these gets rid of pain.
- They run large.
If you wear boots, these insoles are excellent for it. They’re made to wear with that footwear type and are shaped accordingly. With a wide, flat toe area and a thin fit, they’re fantastic for work boots and other types.
These boot insoles are for high arches, though, so look elsewhere if you have neutral or low arches. They’re podiatrist-recommended to combat common foot ailments and related aches, including knee pain.
Podiatrists and the manufacturers state these insoles are for men and women, any age and shoe type despite being best for boots. The manufacturers say they’re fantastic for walking, although they’re quick to warn you about the break-in period.
You may feel annoying pressure for up to a week with these insoles until you break them in. Manufacturers recommend starting with a wear time of two to three hours and increasing this as needed.
Once broken in, you can enjoy the combination of antimicrobial foam and gel that cushions your feet and massages the ball and heel as you walk.
Customers loved the ball and heel support, but they weren’t all fans of the arch support in these shoes. While they say the arch support is adequate, it’s quite forward in the shoe. This may be because it’s for high arches, so it feels too forward for those without high arches.
Other users had no arch issues and found the shoes held up even after running 70 miles in them. They’re backed by a one-year guarantee, so we’d sure hope the insoles are long-lasting.
- One-year guarantee.
- Great support for high arches.
- Heel and ball of foot gain massaging from the gel in the insole.
- Podiatrist recommended, for all ages.
- Fantastic for boots.
- Arch support may be too far forward for some foot types.
- Long break-in period.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Insoles Help Knee Pain?
Insoles can help knee pain, but it depends on what’s causing it. Research shows that insoles don’t help arthritis-induced knee pain. However, insoles can cause knee pain caused by pronation issues, muscle fatigue and excessive pressure on your feet and legs.
Can Bad Arch Support Cause Knee Pain?
Inadequate arch support can not only cause knee pain but hip pain too. Everything from the feet up is interlinked, and if you’re walking incorrectly, that can shoot up the bone and sometimes all the way into the spine. Ensure you have proper foot health and a correct gait to avoid knee, hip and back pain.
Is Plantar Fasciitis Related To Knee Pain?
Yes, plantar fasciitis can influence knee pain. If your feet are overused, there’s a good chance your legs are too. Plus, if you’re walking strangely to combat plantar fasciitis pain, then your feet may not be aligned in your gait. This can lead to knee pain, too.
Can Insoles Cause Knee Pain?
Bad insoles can cause knee pain—most often cheap, misshapen or shapeless ones that offer no support. Insoles that don’t suit your foot type—low, high or regular arches—can also irritate your joints. Ensure you get an insole that’s best for you and not a random insole you find in any old store.
Is Walking Barefoot Bad for Your Knees?
On the contrary, walking barefoot is better for your knees. It reduces pressure by over 10 percent, letting your knees feel at ease. Walking barefoot is especially fantastic for people with osteoarthritis in their knees and hips. The lack of pressure and pain is a welcome break.
The Top Knee-Pain Vanquishers
The best insoles for knee pain in 2021 are the Sof Sole Men’s Athletic. They add support and comfort as well as keep a spring in your step.
Being on your feet all day can be a huge contributor to knee pain and more. Ensuring you have insoles suited to the all-day job is a sure way to help eradicate knee pain for good.
Of course, if your knee pain persists, you should seek medical guidance and not rely on insoles as a quick fix. You may have arthritis, which insoles will do nothing for. You may also have plantar fasciitis, which sometimes insoles can’t help.
You know your feet better than us, so pay close attention when picking the insoles, as well as the treatment that’s best for you.