Should Insoles Hurt At First?

My Insoles Hurts

I have tried lots of different insoles in the shoes that I have worn for work. The main reason has been for better comfort. Getting insoles can help your feet to feel better but people get them for different reasons.

An insole may hurt for two reasons. They may be the wrong insole for your feet or your feet may need time to adjust to them. Understanding the underlying problems with your feet and getting the right insole is important. Often, insoles work right away, but waiting 2 weeks may be needed.

If you have healthy feet and need extra comfort for your work shoes, an insole is a great way to get comfortable shoes. Those with foot issues need to be cautious when choosing an insole and should consult their doctor to find the underlying problem with their feet.

I used to own a pair of leather-soled work shoes. They had a thin insole that provided little comfort during the workday when I would stand on my feet all day. I purchase some foam insoles that provided some temporary relief but eventually, these also failed to bring comfort to my feet.

Finally, I used a pair of soft gel insoles that brought all-day comfort. It was nice to wear shoes that looked professional and feet good.

There are many reasons our feet may feel discomfort while wearing shoes. In my case, the insoles of my shoes were not very comfortable from the beginning.

You may understand why your feet are feeling uncomfortable but here are some steps you can take to make sure you have covered all of your bases.

1. Understanding What Insoles Are Best For Your Feet

Best Insoles

For some, they may find little relief from foot discomfort by using insoles. The reason is that they don’t understand that it’s not the insole that’s the problem, it’s their feet.

If you haven’t seen a doctor about your foot pain, that’s a good place to start. They can identify the specific reason behind your foot discomfort. Once you know the specific condition of your feet, you can better address the issue.

At home, you can test what type of arch you have. This may help you determine the right insole for you, but make sure you know about any underlying issues you may have such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, obesity, diabetes, flat feet, etc.

Underlying issues may determine what insole you may need. Consult your doctor for advice.

Determining your arch type can be done by wetting the bottom of your feet and standing on paper. “Low arches will show most of your footprint, medium arches will show your footprint without inner arch area, and high arches will show mostly heel and ball areas of the foot.”(See article for more info Link)

Flat Feet – Those with flat feet may or may not have any foot pain. Using an arch-supporting insole can help some. (Read this article about Insoles For Flat Feet)

Starting with low arch support for flat feet may help most people, others may need medium arch support. And at times it may be better to just get a new pair of shoes.

Stiff shoes that squish the toes or have high heels can continue to create problems for your feet. A soft midsole can add comfort and flexibility that may aid in healthier feet.

Average Feet – If you have an average arch, getting a flat cushioning insole may be best. Your foot discomfort may be due to your shoe’s lack of cushioning and rigidity, or an underlying issue with your feet.

You probably don’t need arch support, but your shoes should flex well, not constrict, and have enough cushion.

High Arches – Similar to average feet, high arches need cushioning insoles. This arch type doesn’t spread impacts as much, so having a good impact-absorbing insole may help with comfort.

Choosing a well-cushioned shoe can help a lot with discomfort. If you wearing business shoes all day, see if you can change them to professional-looking walking shoes. I like these Sketchers walking shoes. (Amazon Link)

To get a better idea of how healthy your feet are you can check for the items below. Try some of these to check your foot health (Be safe by having something to hold onto for balance if needed) :

  • Check your arch type
  • Check your ankles (article) to see if they lean in or out
  • Check for crooked toes or bunions
  • Knowing your blood sugar levels and weight. Are you overweight? Do you have diabetes?
  • Checking your shoe flexiblity, cushioning, and height. (Rigid shoes limit foot muscle activation. Over cushioning can limit foot muscle activation, although some may need it for some foot issues. High heels can cause crooked toes, bunions, and limit foot muscle activation.)
  • Thinking about how much exercise (walk, run) you get and how much muscle activation your feet get (see article)
  • Can you move your toes up and down and separate (splay) them?
  • Can you walk without shoes and balance well? Can you balance well one one foot?
  • Can you raise onto the balls of your feet easily?

Doing some foot exercise may be of benefit for some when considering their overall foot health. An insole is a way of providing comfort but doesn’t address the needs that our feet have for good muscle development so our arches are well supported.

A healthy foot can support your ideal weight because your foot muscles are developed enough. Exercise and wearing the right shoes can help. Insoles can provide comfort and support for feet, but be sure to ask your doctor or physical therapist for advice for long-term foot health.

2. Did I Get The Wrong Insole for My Feet?

The Right Insole

Some insoles are helpful for our feet but not always. Even if we get the type of insole suggested by our doctor, it may not provide pain relief.

What About Runners?

Most people that run may not even need arch support, but finding the right shoe can be important. If you are having pain while wearing your shoe, then that’s a good indicator that arch support might be helpful.

You may be under the impression that arch support is good for you, but in many cases, it’s not helpful. If you read, “The Truth About Arch Support” you will find the pros and cons of arch support in shoes. This article says, “Arch support is needed for those who have chronic heel and arch pain. It can also help certain chronic tendon issues.”

If you don’t need arch support, finding the right shoe would be your next goal. If you do need arch support you can take steps to ensure you get the right one.

What’s The Problem? Our feet and body behave differently in different types of shoes, our arch may need a bit less or more support, and our feet change over time.

It’s best to try on the same insole in different shoes that you wear and to try on a few different types of insoles if possible.

Try This First

Walk on a hard flat surface with only your socks on. Do your feet hurt? If not, you may not need an insole, but you may want a specific type of shoe that helps correct pronation or supination if your ankles lean in or out.

If your feet hurt when walking with socks only, then you should determine what insole is the right kind of support for your feet.

Place an insole on a flat hard surface and stand on it. It should provide comfortable support so your foot doesn’t feel pain. If it feels good, try standing on another insole for contrast. This can help you understand just what type of support you need.

Try This Second

Place the insole in two different shoes that you have. Try walking for about five minutes in each type of shoe. This will give you contrast to help you determine what shoe it will work best in.

There may be times your insole is helpful but not comfortable. Normally you always want the shoe you wear to be comfortable the first time you try it on. Yet, when you are transitioning to healthier shoes, your feet may feel uncomfortable and will need time to adjust.

3. Give Your Feet Time To Adjust

Your feet should feel comfortable with new insoles almost immediately, except in certain cases.

Wearing Different Shoes

When you are transitioning to a new shoe, your feet will need time to adjust to them. Even if you have the right insoles, your feet will take time to adjust to the differences in how the shoe flexes, cushions, and supports your foot.

Custom Insoles

You’re having foot pain and have ordered custom insoles but they don’t feel comfortable. Did you make a mistake? It is likely your insole can help relieve pain but discomfort is a sign that something could be wrong.

Think about the following questions.

  • Are they helping relieve some of the pain?
  • Have you waited about two weeks for your feet to get used to them?
  • Are you wearing new shoes with your new insoles? (Feet may take time to adjust to new shoes)
  • Do your insoles fit inside your shoe properly and are they fuctioning properly (not broken)?
  • Are you taking it slow, wearing your new insoles a little more each day?

Zero-Drop Shoes

When you are wearing zero-drop shoes, your feet are normally working harder. Some zero-drop shoes have little cushioning and some have lots.

Depending on the type of zero-drop shoe you get your feet may need more or less time to adjust. As your feet get stronger over the course of months, your feet will start to feel more comfortable.

If you are using a specific insole with your zero-drop shoes, it may help your feet be more comfortable, but your feet will need time to adjust to a new heel-to-toe height difference.

Hiking Boots

We don’t wear hiking boots a lot unless we are going on a multi-day hiking trip. These shoes aren’t always comfortable and we may want or need a different insole.

Most hiking boots are rigid, so having enough cushioning can be important for long-term comfort. Even with enough cushioning, your feet may need time to adjust to walking in a shoe that has limited flexibility.

Rigid Insoles

If you are getting a rigid insole and it feels uncomfortable, it’s unlikely that your foot or the insole will adjust enough to start to feel comfortable. You don’t need to continue to wear an uncomfortable insole but should get one that fits your foot and shoe better.

Small Differences

While it’s best to get an insole that feels comfortable from the start, it may be possible to get one that is slightly uncomfortable and still have it work.

Whether it is a foam, gel, or arch-supporting insole, it may take a week or more for feet to start to feel more comfortable with new insoles. If your shoe is already broken in, small differences in how your foot sits on the insole in your shoe can take a week or two to get used to. If it’s not comfortable by then, you likely need a different insole.

To check to see if you’re making a good choice, consider these things:

  • The discomfort when you first try them on shouldn’t be much.
  • Your laces shouldn’t be too tight around any part of your foot.
  • Your toes should have wiggle room and not touch the front of the shoe.
  • The sides of your shoe can touch your foot but shouldn’t be tight.
  • Your heel should be snug and not slip.
  • There shouldn’t be excessive pressure on any one area of your foot bottom.

Our feet can adjust to the small differences in our insoles and adjust a bit over time to conform to our feet better. Just like wearing new shoes, new insoles may place our feet in new positions that they are not used to.

One method to transition to a new insole that is slightly uncomfortable is to wear them every other day or every third day. Then you can stretch your transition period over a 2-4 week period.

Transitioning Away From Arch Support


You can start to develop healthier feet over time. Many people that exercise regularly don’t need arch support because they have stronger muscles in their arch. Whether you have flat, normal, or high arches, having strong foot muscles can help relieve pain because your muscles help relieve pressure on the part the tends to hurt.

It may take a couple of years of regular exercise, wearing healthy shoes, and doing specific foot strengthening exercises to transition away from wearing arch supports. A physical therapist can give you the help you need to work toward this goal.

Final Thoughts

Your insoles shouldn’t hurt at first but may feel uncomfortable a bit. You can always try to find another insole that fits just right, but that may not always be possible.

It’s best to find out about how healthy your feet are, what type of arch you have before getting insoles, and to consult a doctor with any foot pain.

Then get a good comfortable insole that meets your needs.

Thanks for visiting


I enjoy many types of outdoor activities including running, hiking, and walking. I was a former elementary school teacher for 17 years and now enjoy writing and sharing my love of the outdoors.

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