Last Updated on September 15, 2023 by Martina McKeough
Are you thinking about getting insoles or orthotics to help with comfort or to give you extra support? If so you might have thought do I need bigger shoes for insoles or can I get away with fitting them into any existing footwear? Choosing the right shoe inserts isn’t always as straightforward as you think but hopefully, our guide can help to give you some pointers to help you make the right decisions.
This post may contain affiliate links which means that we get a commission if you choose to make a purchase through the link. This is at no cost to you. Please read our disclosure page for more information.
What Is The Difference Between Inserts, Orthotics, and Insoles?
The first thing you need to understand before making any decisions is what the difference is between inserts, orthotics and insoles. Understanding this basic information can help you to make a more informed decision about choosing the right shoes for your particular needs.
Insoles are something that generally can be found in just about every shoe and are the portion of the shoe that your stand on. The insole is placed on top of the base of the inside of a shoe and is either fixed in nature or removable depending on the shoe brand. In ordinary shoes, this footbed is relatively nondescript but in some shoes, it is providing arch support to help your feet feel more comfortable.
Inserts differ in that they are purchased separately from your shoes and can be placed over the insole to provide cushioning and prevent pain. Inserts come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. Popular inserts include foam insoles, gel insoles, or ball of foot cushioning half inserts.
Orthotics are really medical devices that are specifically designed to prevent foot pain, create improved posture, and deal with problems relating to foot positioning. You can get custom foot orthotics that are specifically made for you to place in your shoes by a podiatrist or alternatively you can buy ready-made ones off the shelf. Orthotics tend to be bulkier than inserts.
How Much Do Insoles Change Shoe Size?
Different insoles can have different impacts on your shoe size. This means it very much depends on how your current shoe fits and the size of the inserts being used as to whether your shoe size changes or not.
Typically half insoles or ball of foot cushions are unlikely to take up that much room in your shoe. This means that you should be able to wear them without worrying about whether you have enough space or a tighter-fitting shoe.
Full insoles however can make a difference but it will depend on whether they are foam squishy insoles or thicker insoles that provide arch support. Full insoles are often used to make shoes smaller inside so if this is your aim then it isn’t a problem. If however, your shoes are already snug then thicker insoles are potentially going to mean that you may need at least a half size or a size larger shoe to accommodate them.
Do Orthotics Make Shoes Tight?
When it comes to orthotics which tend to be thicker than inserts then yes in many cases you are likely to find that they will make most shoes a tighter fit. This does of course depend on the thickness of the insole and the type of shoe that it is placed in as well as whether your existing insole can be removed.
A few years ago I was given ready-made orthotics to wear by a doctor to correct a foot problem. These were not custom-fit orthotics and were incredibly bulky and impossible to wear in women’s standard pumps or footwear. The only way I could have worn them was by placing them in trainers or more old-fashioned shoe designs in a much larger size. I ended up never using them as I couldn’t find the right shoes to wear them with.
Orthotics have however improved in the past ten years since I was given these orthotics so there are slimmer fit designs available. The key is to shop around to see what is available. Women’s shoes such as court shoes or ballet pump styles are still more likely to experience a problem because the extra space inside the shoe is not going to be available even if you are able to take out the existing insole. Men’s shoes may have less of a problem provided their existing shoes aren’t too tight.
Custom orthotics however are a different matter and specialist companies are able to design the best insole for your footwear without making you buy bigger shoes. These are obviously much costlier but may solve the problem of you needing to buy an entire closet of new shoes.
Do Insoles Go On Top Of Insoles?
If you don’t want to purchase shoes to fit the right insole or orthotic it is worth looking to see if your existing styles have removable insoles.
Many shoes now allow you to take out the insoles that were giving you additional support so that you can replace them with alternatives. This is particularly useful for bulky insoles that might have been offering arch support or were being used for shock-absorbing reasons.
If your existing thick insoles can be removed then do so and replace them with your new insoles. This of course only applies if we are talking about full-size insoles and not half-size inserts.
If you have half-size inserts or low foam cushioning ones then these can simply be placed on top of the existing insoles as an existing layer of thin material without too much problem.
Can You Put Insoles In Any Shoe?
There are now insoles and inserts that are designed for every shoe including sandals and even flip-flops. This means that if you have a foot problem you should be able to find an insole that gives the appropriate treatment.
The key is finding an insole that fits your footwear and solves the problem that you have. Remember that not all insoles fit in every shoe. You need to assess your shoe’s fit and internal space before deciding what might work best. If you are buying off the shelf this can be a little bit of trial and error as you may pick the wrong size or shape initially.
Do Insoles Make Shoes Feel Smaller?
Insoles don’t have to make your shoes feel smaller especially if your existing insoles can be removed and replaced with new ones.
Thin leather insoles and foam and small gel inserts should also make little difference to the feel of your shoes. Once however, you wear any form of thicker insole then you may feel the difference with regards to the room inside your shoe. Providing the insole leaves you enough room for your toes and doesn’t cause you foot pain this won’t be a problem. If you do feel friction or experience discomfort you will need to size up your shoe or change your insert.
How Do I Know What Insole To Buy?
Buying the right insole can be daunting because there are so many choices of products that you can buy on the market. If you are wondering do I need bigger shoes for insoles then you can have a look at Dr Scholls Insole Advisor which can help you to make a more informed decision about what to buy and how it may fit.
In cases of mild foot discomfort, the insert that you use can usually be bought off the shelf as it probably doesn’t need to be designed bespoke. As a rough guide here are some of the best insoles and inserts that you can buy to suit specific foot problems or comfort issues.
All of the following insoles can be used in everyday shoes and most can be worn without needing to go up a half size or more in shoe size. The exceptions are the insoles that are deliberately designed to help make your shoes smaller and the bulkier orthotics which provide support but take up a little more room in your shoes.
Do Insoles Work in High Heels?
Dr. Scholls High Heel Relief Insoles are the perfect inserts if you find walking in fashion shoes problematic on your feet. These insoles are made from gel and have a slim design which means that they won’t make your shoes smaller or painful.
These are a great solution if you get foot pain because of heels, particularly on the ball of your foot. This is because this design moves the pressure away from this area so you don’t feel the need to discard your shoes after wearing them because of the discomfort.
This particular design works for high heels that are more than 2 inches in height.
Cushioning Gel Inserts for Sore Soles
Scholl Gel Activ Insoles are a perfect example of inserts that you can place in your shoes to create added comfort and cushioning. Unlike foam inserts gel doesn’t get flattened so easily meaning you should feel comfortable for longer.
These insoles can be cut to size which means that they can fit in big or wide shoes. As these are thicker than foam inserts the manufacturer suggests that you use them instead of your existing insoles which should be taken out. By removing the existing inserts you are creating an empty space that allows them to rest securely without making your shoe feel slightly smaller.
The Best Insoles for Ball of Foot Pain
If you suffer from metatarsalgia or experience pain in the ball of your feet when you are walking you are going to need insoles that provide additional cushioning in that area.
Whilst a new pair of full-size shoe inserts may work a much easier solution is to either use a gel cushion or foam insert that can be stuck in a position in that specific area of your shoe. These style inserts are usually at least half the size of normal ones if not smaller.
These ball of foot cushions are easy to place in the front of your shoes and are designed not to slip around when you walk as well as absorb sweat. These are designed to fit in your existing shoes and shouldn’t impact the way your shoes fit.
Insoles to Help With Plantar Fasciitis
If you suffer from a condition such as plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendonitis then getting insoles that help with arch support and foot positioning is key to resolving the problem.
These Walk Hero Orthotic Insoles are one of the most popular brands on Amazon and can help to reduce foot pain in many people. Just note that in order to wear these you need to make sure that shoes have sufficient room and depth as the arch support raises your foot height inside a shoe.
Shoe Inserts You Can Use for Heel Pain
If you suffer from heel pain then a full-sized insert or insole isn’t always needed. Heel That Pain Insoles sit in most shoes to solve the problem of sore heels caused by everything from plantar fasciitis to heel spurs.
They come in four sizes and the link shows you what size you need for your particular foot size. Providing the back of your shoe has a firm back they should work without you needing to buy new footwear.
Custom foot orthotics tend to be the best option if you have more complex foot problems or when the other insoles haven’t worked to solve your problem.
More Articles To Help You With Shoe Issues
*This site is owned and operated by Chicpedi.com. Chicpedi.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.