Which Insoles are Right for You? OTC, Premium OTC, Customized or Custom-Made

Which Insoles are Right for You? OTC, Premium OTC, Customized or Custom-Made

Choosing the right insoles can be overwhelming, specially if you are trying to balance quality and price. In this blog we will walk you through the 4 types of insoles you can choose from. 

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.” – Keri Russell

New Year, New Shoes Right? A new pair of shoes for either the gym, a sport or hobby often symbolize a new start. But when your feet, knees, back or neck start hurting again, you start wondering "Is there a problem with the shoes or is there something wrong with me?". The right answer is a mix of both.

If your body is hurting every time you do physical activity, then your body is not aligned. This causes unnecessary pressure from the feet up - on your knees, hips, back and neck. Most often that not, this is not related to something you did wrong but either an issue or bad habit since birth that never was corrected. Injuries can cause alignment issues too, but the most common causes of alignment issues is that your feet either pronate or supinate. 


Now, how can shoes minimize or enhance your pain? By providing the right arch and ankle support. Most shoes come with a standard piece of fabric on the bottom, which besides providing a little bit of cushion, don't do much. You need to get over-the-counter or custom insoles to enhance your footwear, and ensure every step you take is fixing your ankle's alignment and removing that pressure from the rest of your body. 

What Options Do You Have When It Comes to Insoles and/or Orthotics?

1. Over-The Counter

This is your traditional insole found at Walgreens, CVS, Walmart and Amazon. The most common brand is Dr. Scholls. They are priced between $12-$50, and they are an enhanced version of what your shoe already comes with.  
  • Pros: You can walk into a store and get it immediately. They are focused on shock absorption and cushion which might relieve some pain short-term and provide that perception of comfort in the first try. They are also the cheapest option to get some relief. 
  • Cons: They will need to be replaced every 3 months in order to keep providing that cushion, meaning in a year you will end up spending $100 anyways. They are not providing any correction to your ankle or arch, therefore you will continue to create that unnecessary pressure on the rest of your body. Lasly, they aren't customized for your needs, so you can only assume that the one you are choosing is right for you. 

2. Premium Over-The Counter

There is a middle category between over-the-counter and custom, and that's premium over-the counter. A well-known provider is TreadLabs. They mass produce their insoles based on the standard adjustments and support that the most common issues require. They are priced between $50-$95. 
  • Pros: Their is actual arch and ankle support on these insoles. They are fairly accessible online, and it is a cheaper option than custom. 
  • Cons: They still aren't personalized for your needs. If you choose your arch height wrong or do a wrong self-diagnosis, there is no one checking your order and questioning if it makes sense. If you need adjustments like a MetPad, or more advanced medical modifications, they simply won't be able to customize your insole or provide you advice in the right direction. 

3. Customized  

This third category of insoles, is already known as Orthotics, since they are truly personalized for your needs. StepsDirect is a new family-owned, US-based provider of these type of customized insoles. Traditionally, you would need to go to a doctor's office or visit a specialist so they could advise you on which orthotic was best for you, and the modifications you needed. 

Steps Direct digitized the entire evaluation process and made it more accessible than ever for people to get customized insoles. With an online questionnaire and 3 pictures you can take from the convenience of home, they can create a 3D model of your foot, evaluate your needs and send you a pair of insoles directly to your doorstep. They are priced between $100-$189. 

  • Pros:  They are made specifically to support your arch and align your body. Your Steps Direct insoles come with a lifetime warranty, and 40% off any future replacements. Your order will be revised by a specialist who can contact you if something doesn't look right with your answers or pictures. The arch support and insole will be made based on your needs, and if any modifications are required, they can do it for you as well. Their insoles are made from medical-grade materials and hand-crafted by a team who has been manufacturing insoles for podiatrist for over 20 years. You will get that same quality, but at half the price. They will also be shipped to you that same week so there's no need to put your physical activities on hold until you get the right pair of insoles.
  • Cons: They require a higher investment up front. 

4. Custom-Made

Custom-Made Insoles are made using the traditional method of an impression kit. They take a mold of your feet, and based on that customize the arch support. These insoles are usually offered at podiatrist or chiropractors. The most common providers are foot levelers and Upstep. They are priced between $200- $500 based on how many modifications you might need. 

  • Pros: Your doctor will be the one to make the order to their provider of choice, so he/she will be responsible for how well the orthotic fits. They can last for 2-3 years and they are created specifically for aligning your body. 
  • Cons: They are significantly more expensive and it can take 3-4 weeks to get through the evaluation and manufacturing process. The impression kit can also break in the shipping process back and forth, and hence delay even longer the process of receiving your pair of insoles. 
TIP: If you already worked with a doctor but haven't ordered custom-made insoles, I recommend you mention Steps Direct to them. Steps Direct also works as a provider for podiatrist and doctors looking for a more affordable option for their patients. 

We hope this blog was insightful  and helps you choose which type of insole is right for you.

If you want to make it easier on yourself and stop researching which insole is right for you, we recommend you try Steps Direct. They will choose which insole is right for you using their online evaluation and you can have customized insoles in your doorstep that same week. 


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We are still doing a Buy One Get One Free Promotion during the Holidays. If you are interested in getting yourself and a loved one a pair, use code "HOLIDAYBOGO" to get started today. 

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About The Author: 

Melody Ucros

I’m a a corporate change manager and entrepreneur, founder of StepsDirect. We choose and hand-craft insoles customized for your needs so you can feel good fast from the convenience of home. 

You can visit our website or contact us through email at theteam@stepsdirect.com if you have any questions. ✉️ 

#painrelief #alignment #custominsoles #overthecounterinsoles #

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