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Diabetic insoles and shoe inserts specially designed for people with neuropathy are a great addition to diabetic footwear. If you regularly read my blog, you know I’m often skeptical about so-called “diabetic” products that everyone’s trying to sell us. But regarding orthotics, there’s definitely a necessity to choose diabetes-friendly ones.
Here’s my ultimate guide to insoles for diabetes and neuropathy. It’s full of bits of advice and product reviews. I hope it answers your questions.
Let’s take a dull terminology moment before we start. I’m sometimes talking about insoles, shoe inserts, orthotics, or even sock liners. There used to be a difference. Originally, orthotics were custom-made insoles meant to correct posture (which insoles did not). Since hundreds of companies have entered the game, the distinction has lost its meaning. Each one is calling its foot accessories the way it pleases it without respecting any rule.
So, inserts, orthotics, insoles, sock liners… call it whatever you like. Just be sure you’re buying something that’s good for you!
An insole is a removable footbed that can be added or removed inside your shoe. Most factory-made shoes come with basic pointless insoles. Adding shoe inserts that foot specialists have designed can serve many purposes from improved comfort, plantar fasciitis treatment, arch support, foot pain relief to motion aid, orthopedic or postural correction, and even optimised athletic performances.
Diabetic insoles and insoles for neuropathy are shoe inserts precisely designed to alleviate foot pain caused by diabetic neuropathy and protect your feet from further problems. They generally feature extra-cushioning, anatomical arch support, pressure-relief properties, anti-friction and blister-guard materials, as well as a good shock absorption capacity.
Most diabetic shoes already come with built-in or removable diabetes-friendly inserts. But you can also wear regular shoes with an additional diabetic insole that will improve comfort and protection.
First, let’s clarify. Not all diabetics need diabetic orthotics. Diabetic orthotics are not made for diabetics, but for diabetic foot problems! Suppose you don’t have any foot problem and dominate diabetes management. In that case, chances are you don’t need anything else but good quality shoes and protective socks.
It is true that people living with either type 1 or type 2 diabetes are more prone to develop severe foot conditions than the general population. There are three main reasons why diabetics need suitable orthotics:
Most foot problems people with diabetes suffer from are due to peripheral neuropathy. This serious diabetes complication affects the nerves in the lower limbs. Insoles for neuropathy have proven to alleviate the extreme foot pain caused by neuropathy symptoms (tingling, burning, sharp pains, cramps, extreme sensitivity, etc.). They also play a key role in preventing foot injuries in neuropathy patients, especially foot ulcer.
People with diabetes are more at risk of developing plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of the tissue in the heel. The main symptom is stabbing pain in the heel area. One of the most recommended treatments is proper shoe inserts.
I’m not saying you need to wait and suffer before you get orthotics. Wearing appropriate footwear plays a significant role in the prevention of foot problems in diabetic patients. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with neuropathy nor plantar fasciitis, providing your feet with extra comfort and protection is always a good idea. It’s part of the daily recommended foot care routine for diabetics.
Yes. If you regularly read my blog, you know I am often skeptical about the so-called “diabetic” products everyone’s trying to sell us. Not this time.
Diabetic footwear for people with peripheral neuropathy does make a huge difference. Not only can it alleviate foot pain, but it also prevents further problems from showing up.
Neuropathy insoles are designed to soothe your feet, support them, improve motion, provide extra cushioning, absorb shocks and impacts, and prevent skin frictions that could lead to blisters and infections.
Honestly, I’ve never worn insoles myself. I’m a 32 years-old Type 1 diabetic and have not felt the need for it (yet!). But my goal is to find the best products for diabetics, and shoes inserts are a big part of it. So I’ve looked at dozens of insoles. I’ve read hundreds of customers’ reviews. I’ve asked for recommendations from my podiatrists partners.
And I came up with the following list of the 10 best diabetic insoles and shoe inserts for neuropathy available in 2021.
Dig in; I hope you find yours! If you need extra help choosing, check the buyer’s guide with all the features to look for.
Orthofeet is the #1 recommended diabetic and neuropathy footwear brand by foot professionals. The company has designed four different orthotic foot inserts. The BioFit model is the most suitable for diabetic and neuropathy foot pain relief. It features advanced foot, knee, and back pain relief properties.
The shock-absorbing foam is excellent and truly alleviates foot bottom pressure. A comfortable arch support provides good stability and reduces foot stress.
Unlike other companies, Orthofeet crafts its foot orthotics on a separate mold for each shoe size and width. It ensures a more precise and customized fit, which is extremely important when choosing insoles. These insoles are not unisex. There’s one model for women and one for men.
Last but not least, there’s a 60-days wear test and 100-money back guarantee on Orthofeet’s website. I find it very valuable when buying footwear products online that you can’t try out.
These Spenco insoles have been specially designed for people with sensitive feet, diabetes and neuropathy. They aim at providing ultimate comfort and protection to delicate feet. The central uplift is a great feature that improves foot stress-releasing function.
What’s best about these soft diabetic inserts is the top-quality materials they’re built in. Spenco has patented a SpenCore memory foam that’s known to be one of the most shock-absorbing and impact-reducing insole foam. Plus, the anti-blister plastazote top cover reduces friction and protects sensitive feet. Plastazote insoles have proven to work great for people with sensitive feet, diabetes-related foot problems, and neuropathy foot pain.
For the last 30 years, PowerStep has been a leader in providing clinically proven foot pain relief solutions. The Pinnacle shoe inserts model is its best-selling product and is well-famous among diabetic and neuropathy patients.
The arch support is neutral and semi-rigid. It’s firm and flexible at the same time and suits all arch types (low, neutral, and high arches). The premium cushioning technology uses two thick layers of plush fabric, and the sole is made from EVA durable foam.
PowerStep Pinnacles inserts provide your feet with optimum support, comfort, and shock absorption, while correcting posture towards proper foot alignment. These insoles fit a wide variety of shoes with removable insoles, including most diabetic and neuropathy shoes.
Surprisingly, PowerStep Pinnacle insoles are considerably cheaper on Amazon than on the company website. If you want to try them out before buying, they’re available in most orthotic footwear stores in the USA.
AIRfeet promotes its diabetic insoles as dynamic insoles instead of static ones. Dynamic insoles are made with gel that disperses the energy instead of absorbing it. The fluid constantly moves under your feet. It adjusts in micro-seconds to act like a foot massager and a blood circulation booster. It is precisely what diabetes and neuropathy patients need.
What I like the most about AIRfeet’s diabetic insoles is that you can pop them into your freezer to get a cooling effect on your feet. The inside gel will act like as cold pack to soothe aching, tingling, and sore feet.
AirFeet neuropathy insoles are sold at Kmart and Walmart but are cheaper on Amazon. They can also be used as a complement to your orthotics and be placed on top of them.
Superfeet 100% employee-owned niche company has gained incredible popularity in the States. Their insoles are top-quality and, most of them are hand-made. I’ve looked around Superfeet’s catalog and found that the best insoles for diabetes and neuropathy are probably the Copper anti-fatigue ones.
They’re low-profile, high-volume insoles. It means they provide big comfort with a low arch shape. It’s enough to support most people’s feet without plantar fasciitis. Superfeet also makes great high arch profile insoles as well as strong pain relief ones: check the full catalog here.
The stabilizer cap is a unique feature that you won’t find in many other diabetic insoles. It’s here to provide enhanced support and stability.
The memory foam cushioning optimizes comfort allowing the insole to perfectly shape your foot. This is particularly important for people diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy as you want to avoid any pressure and friction points. Plus, Superfeet copper insoles are trim-to-fit. You’re supposed to trim them, so you find the precise fit you need.
Specially designed with extra-comfort and anti-fatigue purposes, they’re meant to be worn all day long. The fabric is moisture-wicking and anti-bacterial, protecting your feet against fungus and odor-causing bacterias. These shoe inserts fit in roomy footwear with removable sock liners, which is the case for most diabetic shoes and shoes for neuropathy.
Last but not least, I really encourage you to support this 100% employee-owned company that give 1% of each sale to charities.
All Superfeet insoles are trim-to-fit insoles. Trimming your insoles only takes a few minutes, and it’s a tremendous customizable feature that allows you to find the perfect fit. Remove your old shoe insert and line up with your new Superfeet insole. Trace the contours and trim with sharp scissors. Insert and enjoy! Here’s the video:
You’ve probably heard about the famous New Balance casual sneakers before. Did you know the Boston footwear company offers a full product line for diabetics? New Balance diabetic shoes are even covered by Medicare and other health insurance providers.
New Balance cushion insoles are actually shaped by Superfeet, one of the USA’s top orthopedic insoles company (see above). Superfeet’s patented shape is notorious for providing a supportive and energizing shoe foundation.
Two layers of plush foam relieve pressure on your feet, and a reinforced heel adds protection against impacts. The fabric is moisture-wicking and odor-controlling. These insoles are super soft, ideal for sensitive skins that need blister-guard shoe materials.
New Balance insoles are simply great for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who need extra comfort and light support. You do not need to have diabetic extra-wide footwear as they fit into most regular-wide shoes.
Dr. Scholl’s offers a vast catalog of orthotics. Whether you need orthotics for foot pain relief, plantar fasciitis, heel pain, sore soles, or ball of foot pain, there’s a Dr. Scholl’s insole for you.
I’ve chosen the heavy-duty pain relief orthotics because they bring something different from regular diabetic insoles. They’re specially designed to alleviate foot, leg, and back pain for men over 200lb. The weight distribution system is better than in any other insoles. The shock-guard technology absorbs pain-inducing shocks in the heels.
These trim-to-fit insoles fit casual shoes. Dr. Scholl’s insoles are very reasonably priced. There is a similar extra-support insoles model for women.
The Cloud Walker insoles by Infusion Insoles company are perfect for people who need extra soft cushioning due to diabetes or neuropathy foot pain. The material is strongly shock-absorbing even for high impacts on the foot. The heel cup is 25mm deep, which is ideal for foot stability and motion improvement.
They’re built with a combination of medical-grade Poron and Polyurethane layers. Poron is a polyurethane foam that wicks moisture away and helps keep your feet in a dry and healthy environment. Poron insoles are long-lasting quality orthotics.
These trim-to-fit insoles are thick and won’t fit in every regular-width shoes. They might fit in your regular sneakers or walking shoes if these are not too tight.
These trim-to-fit Happystep memory foam shoe inserts are just great for type 1 or type 2 diabetics who simply need a bit of extra comfort and foot protection. They’re made with high-density memory foam, which gently contours the shape of your feet.
The arch support fits neutral and medium foot arch types. You can insert these insoles better into high-volume footwear.
If what you’re looking for are cheap diabetic insoles, these are your product! It’s about 60% cheaper than any other orthotics for diabetics.
Before choosing insoles for diabetes or diabetic neuropathy, there are a few features you should really pay attention to. Wearing orthotics that do not suit your own foot type will do you more harm than good.
Here’s a little help to guide you through the most essential features to look for in shoe inserts. You should also ask for your doctor’s or podiatrist’s advice first.
Insole sizes usually refer to a shoe size range. For example, “Women’s 5-7”. Most factory-made insoles are meant to be trimmed off. It allows you to find the perfect fit. If you’re in between sizes, you’re supposed to buy the next size up and trim unneeded length.
Full-Length orthotics are the most commonly used by diabetes and neuropathy patients. They extend through the entire length of the foot and are meant to replace the existing shoe insert.
3/4 length insoles are shorter. They extend from the ball of the foot (behind the toes) to the heel. They’re meant to be placed on top of your existing shoe inserts. People with hammertoes or bunions usually prefer 3/4 orthotics. If your shoes are a bit tight (narrow-toed shoes), they’re also more suitable.
The insole volume is the amount of space it takes inside your shoes. Logically, high-volume footbeds will take more room and provide more cushioning than low-volume ones.
People with diabetes or neuropathy must wear non-binding footwear. Shoes that are too tight constrict your legs and impede proper blood flow.
Choosing the right diabetic orthotics volume really depends on the shoes you’re going to place them in. If you have extra-wide shoes for diabetics, consider high-volume insoles for more cushioning. But if you’re wearing regular-width shoes, you might be better with a bit less cushioning and more room. In that case, choose medium or low-volume inserts.
There are three foot arch types, and you should be one of them. You’re either neutral arch, low arch, or high arch. A picture is worth a thousand words:
To determine your own arch type, you can also do the water test or wet test. It’s essential to know your foot arch type as most insoles are designed for one arch type only. Wearing insoles made to support a high arch if you have a low arch can be painful and do you more harm than good.
Like all orthotics, orthotics for diabetics come with four different footbed options. The rigid footbed is the one providing the strongest arch support. It can be difficult to wear, and it’s advisable to seek your podiatrist’s advice before using rigid arch support. The semi-rigid footbed also provides good arch support but it’s more flexible. It’s easier to wear and ideal for most people.
Then, there are the cushioned arch support and the flat cushion (no arch support). They are totally fine for diabetics not experiencing plantar fasciitis nor foot arch pain. If you suffer arch pain, you should generally choose rigid or semi-rigid arch support. Cushioned or flat support won’t do anything for you.
Most diabetic insoles are made from foam or gel. Foam is better for cushioning and pressure relief. Gel works great for shock absorption. Memory foam insoles shape to your own feet, which is quite pleasant. Gel insoles act more like a foot massage, which is also nice. A significant advantage of gel insoles is that they generally are anti-bacterial and machine washable.
Yes, and you should. The bad smell of shoes often comes from the insoles themselves. Regularly washing your orthotics helps keep your feet in a healthy environment and prevent bacteria and fungal growth.
Only a few insoles are machine washable, though. You can wash gel insoles in the machine at cold temperatures. For foam insoles, it’s better to hand wash them. There are several methods to cleanse your insoles without deteriorating them. You can use warm water and soap, vinegar, or baking soda.
Custom orthotics can last up to three years if you take good care of them. Most ready-made shoe inserts don’t last as much, and you usually have to change them every 6 months or so. There are clear signs that indicate it’s time you get new insoles: deformation, damage, bad odor, and especially if they’re flatter than they used to be.
It sounds like a stupid question, but it’s not! You should remove your shoe insoles before placing custom-made orthotics. For full-length insoles, it’s best to remove your original insole too, but it’s not obligatory. If you feel more comfortable and your feet have enough space, you can keep the original insole under the new one. On the contrary, 3/4 length shoe inserts are supposed to be placed on top of your shoe insoles.
Medicare does cover orthotic shoes and inserts for people with type 1 to type 2 diabetes who qualify under Medicare Part B. The shoe inserts must be prescribed by a podiatrist, an orthotist, a prosthetist, a pedorthist, or any other qualified doctor.
Some private medical insurances in the US also cover part of the cost of therapeutic footwear for diabetics. Check with your insurance provider.
Custom-made orthotics can cost anywhere between $250 and $1500 and are usually not covered by medical insurances. The process takes a long time and several appointments with specialists who thoroughly examine and cast your feet. If you have serious foot conditions such as advanced neuropathy, foot ulcer, foot deformation, chronic pain or tendinitis, and you can afford the price, custom orthotics do make the difference.
For most people though, including diabetes and neuropathy patients, ready-made insoles are enough.
Acupressure insoles are magnetic therapy shoe inserts covered with plenty of tiny magnetic nodules. Their action is based on reflexology, an alternative medical practice relying on the idea that every area of your feet is linked to a part of your body. They provide a massaging effect and claim to be an effective foot pain relief solution.
As I said above, magnetic acupressure shoe inserts work on the principles of reflexology. The tiny magnets gently apply pressure on the acupoints of your feet. If you believe in reflexology, using magnetic insoles is definitely something your should try.
Reflexology insoles claim to alleviate foot pain and boost blood circulation. Both effects are very beneficial to people with diabetic neuropathy. If you don’t believe in the idea behind acupressure insoles, the worst case scenario is that you’ll have a good foot massage!
I’ve done some research and found that the Carespot Gel Acupressure Foot Therapy Inserts have the best customers reviews of all magnetic shoe insoles.
I hope this article has helped you decide on what’s best for your feet. Please, comment and share your thoughts!