As someone who spent entire days working on concrete slabs going up and down ladders, I understand how important proper foot support is. Foot, knee, and back pain from inadequate shoes or boots can quickly become unbearable. Unfortunately, the vast majority of work boots on the market fail to provide proper foot support.
And there is one simple reason for this.
While they might offer enhanced traction, durability, and protection work boots are designed to fit AS MANY people's feet as possible. But what you end up with is a product that doesn't fit anyone particularly well.
If you have a foot problem such as flat feet, over-pronation, or plantar fasciitis these generic sole designs will NOT offer the support you need when standing all day, working on concrete, or other hard surfaces.
Thankfully there are a handful of innovative products on the market designed to address exactly this problem. In this article I've compiled my picks for the best insoles for work boots. I'm discuss my favorite products and cover the foot issues they're specifically designed to address.
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I'll be the first to admit that to the untrained eye there doesn't appear to be a great deal of difference between a $10 foam insert and some of the more expensive products I'll be covering.
But as is often the case with genuinely innovative products, with insoles you get what you pay for. The best boot insoles offer better support, longer usable life, and a handful of other benefits you're not going to find with a cheaper off-the-shelf insole.
Let's jump right into our top picks.
In addition to making the biggest improvement in comfort I gave the Tread Labs Stride the top spot for two important reasons.
Tread Labs understands that everyone's feet are a little bit different. They offer a wide range of products designed to address these differences.
At $75 the insoles offered by Tread Labs are among the more expensive on the market. In fact they cost almost as much as a pair of boots. But you only have to pay for quality once. Tread Labs offers a lifetime warranty on their products. They also offer a 30-day fit guarantee.
The Stride insole is comprised of a foam top and molded arch support. The replaceable, antimicrobial foam top kills 99.9% of bacteria and attaches to the insole via Velcro.
The polyester foam top is non-toxic and will not wash or wear out. The open cell polyurethane foam used in the insole lasts five times longer than EVA so you can rely on it to keep your feet supported all day, every day.
One huge benefit of the Tread labs product is the fact that you can swap out the foam top ($15 for a new pair). Unlike other insoles where you have to cut them to fit, Tread Labs has its sizing down to a fine art as the size 13's I ordered fit perfectly with no trimming necessary.
Tread Labs makes it very easy to select the right product for your feet. Basically you're going to get the bottoms of your feet wet, then step on a piece of paper to get an idea of what your footprint looks like. This allows you to fairly accurately judge the arch of your foot.
Next you'll select the product you need based on this information.
They offer four arch heights based on the shape of your feet.
They offer a wide range of sizes (men's 8.0 - 13.5 & women's 5.0 to 10.5) to accommodate just about any shoe size. It's possible you'll need to trim your insole a bit to ensure it fits properly in your boots. I wear a size 13 and had to trim mine just a bit to accommodate my toes.
While I got my size and arch right on the first try there's no need to stress if yours don't immediately fit. Tread Labs offers a 30-Day fit guarantee. Just use the included shipping return label to send yours back and they'll send you another pair.
When it came to the all-important ‘wear’ test, the Stride made an almost immediate difference.
I have a pair of Wolverine Raiders I've been using for YEARS so they're very well broken-in. I love these boots, but within an hour of being on my feet I'll generally notice pain in the outside of my knees and my lower back.
For the first half hour or so after inserting the Stride insole I noticed what basically felt like extra cushioning, but this feeling quickly fades.
A few hours later I began to notice a real difference. I literally felt no pain in my knees or back. I also never got the tired, achey feeling in my feet that I always assumed was just part of being on my feet all day.
This is the biggest benefit of purchasing a product that is customized to your feet. Rather than just adding cushion, the Stride literally moves your feet into the proper anatomical position.
This corrects both your posture and walking motion and this is why pain and fatigue disappear.
One annoyance you might experience with the Stride is a squeaky sound as your heel strikes the ground. A quick fix is to put some baby powder between the insert and the foot bed of your shoe.
It's important to know that initially there might be some discomfort and even soreness as your feet adjust to the shape of the insole. The discomfort is essentially due to your muscles and tendons adjusting to the change in your walking biomechanics. Depending on your particular foot issues this might include stance, gait, and supporting muscles.
For some (like me) this adjustment might only take a few hours. For others it can take a few days. But once your feet and muscles adjust, you'll be amazed at how easy it is to be on your feet for extended periods of time.
The Strides are designed for a LIFETIME of use. The solid build is one of the reasons we rated them the best insoles for boots. They're tough enough to provide proper support day in and day out.
The top foam layer is replaceable and attaches with Velcro. They're also 99% antimicrobial, but if you're like me and suffer from constant swamp foot, they will eventually start to smell. At this point you'll be looking at $15 for a new top layer.
Although the brand has gained fame for its Golf insole, the Aline Active insole is known for its ability to enhance performance through better support and alignment. The website claims that over 1,000 professional athletes rely on Aline Active and up to 12 Olympic gold medalists have had these insoles on their feet during their triumph.
The design also features over 100 dynamic ribs which offer an unparalleled level of flexibility. One of the things I feel at work is a nagging knee injury from years of unwisely playing as a goalkeeper in soccer on concrete! Wear and tear means there are days of severe pain. However, within a week or so of wearing Aline Active insoles, the pain was noticeably reduced.
I was pretty shocked when I tried Aline Active insoles for myself. Who would have thought that my knee issues could have been caused by poor foot alignment? The remarkable technology used by Aline includes an extremely supportive heel cup, shock-absorbing gel pad, and a trio of ‘suspension zones’ that are specially engineered.
When I placed the insoles into my work boots and tried them on, the difference was almost immediate. It only took a few minutes to get used to them because they were so comfortable. Aline makes a lot of bold claims with these insoles.
For example, the brand claims that the biomechanically correct support and the suspension system protects your entire lower body and improves alignment, balance, and performance.
The dynamic ribs are certainly one of the reasons. They absorb, transmit, and reflect energy while the gel in the heels also does a fantastic job of absorbing shock. As a result, your normal dose of daily wear and tear has a significantly lower impact on your joints. I also loved the memory foam top sheet because it made the insoles feel really comfortable.
With sizes from Youth 1.5 – 3 right the way through to Men's 14+ and Women's 15+, there is an Aline Active insole for everyone. To be clear, it is an extremely expensive purchase at $99.95 and probably won't last as long as its Tread Labs counterpart. Even so, you will notice the difference quickly and benefit from increased comfort and decreased joint pain.
You can customize Active Aline by purchasing the TABs Kit for $10. TABs are small clips you can insert on the inside or outside edge of the heel. You should be able to see the slots for the TABs when you flip your Alines over; simply slot the TABs in and enjoy the benefits.
If you’re seeking the best arch support for flat feet, look no further than the Sof Sole Arch insole. It is specifically designed for people with high arches or those seeking enhanced arch cushioning. Right out of the box I was surprised by the insole’s rigidity which belied its light weight.
As these insoles are capable of turning racing flats into stability shoes, I was intrigued to see what they could do to a pair of work boots which already had an okay level of support. The deep heel cup combined beautifully with the targeted gel drops to ensure that my feet felt comfortable during a typical eight-hour work shift.
Like other top-quality insoles, Sof Sole offered the ideal fit beneath my foot and also in my boots. The near perfection of the fit ensured there were no ‘teething’ pains such as aches in the hips, back, or knees. While some of the best orthotic insoles give you a choice between comfort and support, there is no such compromise necessary with these outstanding insoles.
Incidentally, I also tried them in a pair of sneakers just to see what would happen. The thing about athletic shoes is that they have zero arch support because so many of us have flat feet! Add the design of sneakers to the mix and this unhealthy foot condition only gets worse. Fortunately, Sof Sole Arch insoles transform your foot killing sneakers into footwear capable of offering decent support.
At a price of $19.99, you would think that Sof Sole may try and cut a corner here and there but that is absolutely not the case with these high arch support insoles. The polyurethane foam only adds to the excellent level of comfort and the aforementioned deep heel cup prevents slippage. As I work in fairly hot conditions that cause my feet to sweat, I was delighted with the performance of the Sof Sole Hydrologix moisture wicking technology which did a fantastic job of ensuring my feet remained dry.
By the way, if you have no idea what your arch type is, Sof Sole can help you out. You can visit one of the brand’s retailers or check out a helpful video on YouTube. When you go into the store, the Sof Sole FIT ID System will help get a reading in under 30 seconds. This will help you find the best arch support insoles for your needs.
Sof Sole has produced affordable insoles for high arches and since a pair normally last up to 12 months, you are receiving outstanding value for money. The Microban technology reduces bacteria buildup so your insoles will smell fresher for longer and the Coolmax fiber ensures your feet stay dry during a hard day at work.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Powerstep Pinnacle is one of the best orthotics around. They are ideal for athletic, dress, casual and work shoes because they don’t take up much space in the toe-box, heel, or arch areas. The company was founded by a podiatrist who decided to do something about the fact that the only decent arch support cost up to $400, so he wanted to create an affordable alternative.
The Pinnacle is not just one of the best work boot insoles, it is also great value at $37.95. I must warn you, it will take a couple of days to get used to these insoles so expect a little bit of discomfort as your foot adjusts to the new placement of your arch support. While a lot of orthotics offer arch support near the heel, the Pinnacle has more central arch support.
The heel cradle and semi-rigid arch support ultimately guarantee a greater degree of support and stability that I appreciated during a long workday. Rigidity aside, the Variable Cushioning Technology (VCT) offers controlled and targeted cushioning and it felt very soft and comfortable once I got used to it.
The Pinnacle also has dual-layer cushioning with an extremely tough and durable EVA foam base. The anti-microbial top fabric is almost industry standard at this stage as it prevents nasty smelly bacteria from building up. Convenience is the byword for the Pinnacle as it will fit perfectly on every shoe so you can use it on all your pairs without having to trim it.
One of the great things about the Pinnacle is how it cushions tired feet. This unquestionably makes it one of the best insoles for work boots on concrete. As a result, these insoles are fantastic for individuals suffering from Plantar Fasciitis, heel/arch pain, mild/moderate pronation, or metatarsal pain. Indeed, these versatile insoles can be used to alleviate a myriad of common foot conditions.
The Pinnacle is an excellent orthotic and the flex in the arch gets rid of the initial feeling of hardness you may experience. The double-layer cushioning offers a significantly greater level of cushion support than the average orthotic arch. Obviously, since my work involves standing on my feet for long stretches, I need something comfortable and the Pinnacle offers that and much more.
Personally, I tend to stand on my forefoot which means I was shocked when the Pinnacle insoles remain firm after several weeks of use. Normally, my insoles get worn down at the front and lose their cushion support but this didn’t happen. I would expect these insoles to last for at least eight months and they could remain useful for up to a year; not bad for under $40!
Superfeet’s Green Heritage edition is the brand’s best-selling insole with good reason! First and foremost, it offers the widest and deepest heel support of the company’s many offerings. The odor-neutralizing technology ensures that bacteria stay away, the firm support guarantees stability and structure, while the high-density foam makes sure you get the best value out of your purchase.
The thick foam is one of the reasons why Green Premium is one of the best arch support insoles that money can buy. The heavy-duty nature of the foam means the base of your support gets all the cushioned support it needs. The high volume is also exceptional for shock-absorption which means you can use it in an athletic shoe as well as in your work boots.
The deep heel is also ideal for people with high arches and when added to the base layer, the insole provides a level of stability almost unmatched on the market. As a sufferer of plantar fasciitis, I was astounded to find pain relief within a couple of days. I silently cursed myself for taking so long to uncover this wonder.
At $40, the Superfeet Green Premium is not among the cheapest insoles around but you definitely get what you pay for… and much more! There is a special ‘wideGreen’ edition which is designed for people with wider feet. I have yet to come across another insole that offered a deeper and wider heel cup. When you’re on your feet most of the day, it is great to have an insole that does such a fantastic job of providing natural shock absorption.
One of the main downsides is that you have to trim to fit and I wasn’t able to switch it from shoe to shoe because of this fact. If you have a connection with Mother Earth, you’ll be delighted to hear that the insoles are vegan and free from formaldehyde, nickel sulfate, and latex. Therefore, these insoles from Superfeet are ‘green’ in every way imaginable!
I’m not saying that Superfeet’s Green Premium insole is ideal for everyone. It isn’t a good option for people who need minimal arch support and some people won’t like the feel of the material. However, once you get used to it, you’ll be delighted that you chose them as your work boot insoles.
They offer supreme comfort for people with Plantar Fasciitis and despite being extremely durable, these insoles are around half the price of rival brands such as Tread Labs and Aline. With anti-microbial coating to eliminate bacteria, you don’t have to worry about smelly feet at work!
Although it would be wonderful to wear running shoes for everything because of their comfort, it is not practical in the real world. For instance, numerous careers require a sturdy pair of boots; such as the construction industry. When you’re on your feet all day, you will do just about anything to find the best pair of work boot insoles.
This is especially the case if you suffer from one of the foot issues below. If you’re experiencing severe foot pain at work, there’s a good chance that you have one of these foot problems. If you try to carry on through the pain, you will only make matters worse.
If you leave things too long, the result is crippling pain that also affects your entire lower body and possibly makes its way to your lower back. If you have one of these four conditions, we urge you to consider investing in one of the insoles we reviewed above.
Also known as "fallen arches", flat foot is a condition seen in children and adults. In a ‘normal’ foot, there is an arch (an upward longitudinal curve in the center). It is formed by a collection of ligaments and tendons that are attached to the foot bones and the heel. The tendons in the lower leg, along with the ligaments in your feet, combine to pull and form an arch.
In some people however, the tendons don’t pull enough which results in a low arch or none at all.
When you have flat feet, the pressure of walking shifts to different parts of the foot which results in pain, discomfort, and serious joint issues. When you find the best arch support insoles, you can significantly control the symptoms of fallen arches. As well as finding the right insoles, a podiatrist could also prescribe:
In most cases, over-the-counter insoles are ineffective. The best insoles for flat feet are typically customized to ensure they aren’t too flexible nor too rigid.
Excessively firm insoles don’t compress adequately which means inadequate shock absorption. An overly cushioned insole may offer initial comfort but eventually, the lack of support proves detrimental.
Generic insoles are also sold in specific sizes and your feet may not be a perfect fit. With customized insoles, you can trim them for an ideal fit which ensures comfort even when standing up for hours at a time at work.
This condition is inflammation that results from overstretching of the plantar fascia. This broad connective structure is found across the bottom of your foot and is effectively a giant rubber band that connects the heel to the toes. It plays a significant role in ensuring your foot transitions all the way to the ‘propulsive’ phase of your gait cycle.
When your foot pronates (the compression phase) for too long, there is a negative impact on how it absorbs impact.
When your foot is unstable, it causes excessive stress on the plantar fascia while you run, walk, or stand up for hours. If you have this condition, you’ve most likely experienced significant levels of pain.
Although you tend to feel it mainly on the heel, it can also affect other parts of the foot. Most plantar fasciitis sufferers report experiencing the worst pain either first thing in the morning, or when they have spent several hours on their feet at work.
The good news about plantar fasciitis is that symptoms disappear within a year in up to 80% of people who seek professional help. The best insoles for plantar fasciitis feature a contoured shape designed to stabilize your feet.
This design reduces the stress on the plantar fascia. The insole should also have a structured heel cup to reduce the effect of any impact forces on the plantar fascia. In fact, well-designed insoles can help prevent the condition as well as easing the symptoms.
The problem with high arches is that your foot will not fully absorb the shock of landing when you walk or run. Feet with normal arches are excellent shock absorbers because they flatten as your feet contact the ground. If you have a rigid high arch however, it doesn’t flatten enough and less of your foot will contact the ground with every step.
Therefore, excess strain is placed on the heel and ball of the foot. If you have high arches, you are more prone to foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis and shin splints.
Although high arches are an inherited condition in some cases, it can also develop because of a nerve or bone condition. You need to see a doctor to find out what is causing the pain you feel because of your high arches. You can expect to be referred to a specialist such as a podiatrist.
As feet with high arches don’t absorb enough shock with every step, aim to buy well-cushioned boots.
The best insoles for high arches are those that compensate by properly supporting the middle of your foot.
Customized versions are designed to distribute the impact of every step so you will no longer feel pain as you walk, run, or stand. When you find insoles that mold to your feet, you will notice the difference within a few days. If you don’t seek treatment, the condition will only become more painful and could badly affect your gait in the long run.
Pronation is a normal part of running or walking. Once the outside edge of your heel strikes the ground, it deals with the shockwave by supinating. Your foot will roll in slightly and your heel moves outward.
These actions result in pronation, also known as the unlocking of the foot. It helps to absorb shock and ensures the foot adapts to uneven surfaces. You are said to overpronate when your foot rolls too far inward.
Overpronation is capable of causing a wide range of problems throughout the body. As your foot doesn’t absorb the shock of your stride properly, it passes the shock on to your legs, hips, knees and possibly your spine. It also makes your inner toes take on the task of pushing your foot off for the next step you take.
The result is an increased likelihood of a foot condition such as plantar fasciitis or calluses. You’re more likely to overpronate if you have high arches or flat feet.
Insoles work well for overpronation because they should include arch support, deep heel cups, and low heels. There are also special ‘stability shoes’ available for moderate overpronators whereas people with severe cases must purchase ‘motion control’ shoes.
As well as investing in high-quality insoles for overpronation, stretch your legs and feet regularly to decrease the tightness and muscle stress caused by the condition. Exercises such as heel raises and toe curls are excellent for improving shock absorption, stability, and foot support.
Whether you need shoe inserts for flat feet or the best work boot insoles, check out our reviews above. Remember, everyone’s feet are unique which means you require customized insoles if you want the best results. When you opt for orthotic insoles, you are paying for a product that can help foot-related problems such as heel pain, arch pain and issues with the ball of your foot.
No matter which insole you purchase, it is essential to take proper care of them to prolong their life. Remember, your shoes are going to become sweaty after a hard day at work so make sure you take out your insoles regularly to let them breathe and dry out.
Jason is a work from home dad who has a passion for DIY projects, yard work, and SEC Football. His background is IT, but he's always fancied himself as a part-time ship welder, landscaper, and short order cook. During the week he can be found on his laptop 10 hours-a-day, but on the weekends he escapes to the local DIY Cave to play with REAL toys.