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Custom Orthotics Vs Inserts vs Insoles

We've talked before about why we think everyone could benefit from a pair of Custom Orthotics. You may be among those who think you don't need them or that you are way too young for them. They may seem like something only someone older would wear but they are actually helpful for most people. This goes double if you happen to be someone in a profession that requires you to spend a lot of time on your feet. Custom Orthotics can help ease a lot of your pain.

But do you really know what Custom Orthotics are? Is it the same as an insole or an insert? You might have seen what you thought was a Custom Orthotic but was actually a shoe insert or vice versa. Which choice is the right pick for you? So, what exactly is the difference between Custom Orthotics, insoles, or a shoe insert?


An insole is a generic term that is used to describe the bottom inside of a shoe. It’s the part of the shoe that sits under the sole of your foot. Insoles are also commonly called footbeds. Some insoles come attached to the shoe but others can be removed. For instance, we have in stock a shoe by Gravity Defyer called the GDEFY Mighty Walk. Both the men's and women’s versions of this shoe come with a removable insole. This makes it even easier to add Custom Orthotics.

Insoles can be very simple in structure or they can have layers of construction and structural elements added for better fit and comfort. EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate) is a common insole material used in shoes from flip-flops to sneakers. It’s a useful shoe material because it can be molded to specific shapes as desired and can be made with recycled materials. You’ll also find insoles made from natural materials such as bamboo, cork, latex rubber, or leather.

Insoles are not made to fit any particular foot. They come standard in shoes to add comfort and support. Sometimes though, the standard insole alone is not enough. This is when an insert is needed.

Some shoes with removable insoles

Gravity Defyer GDefy Might Walk

Propet Grisham

Vionic Graham

The Gravity Defyer GDefy Might Walk, Propet Grisham, and Vionic Graham, all come with removable insoles.


An insert is a product that anyone can buy over the counter. Over-the-counter is a term that simply means you don’t need a prescription from a doctor to purchase a product. They are similar to the insole of a shoe that they provide comfort and support but can add even more support for your feet. Inserts can be made from materials like gel plastic or foam. They fit inside your shoes and can either replace your insole if removable or sit on top of your insole if it’s not removable.

Since they also aren't custom-made, they come in different sizes similar to the sizes shoes do. If you wear a size 8 for instance you may find an insole in size 8 or size 6 to 8. It depends on the brand and women's versus men's sizes.

An insert can also vary in size in another way as well. You may only require an insole in a certain part of your shoe. Maybe your heel is the issue or it might be your toes causing your problems. Inserts can be found in full, pad, cup, or liner sizes. Each one is designed for a specific part of the foot that requires some extra support.

So unlike the insole which comes in your shoes, inserts can be added to provide more arch support or extra cushioning on the heel, around your toes, or for your entire foot. They might make your shoes more comfortable but let it be noted they are not designed to correct foot problems. Only custom-orthotics can do that.

Some shoe Inserts brands we carry

10 seconds Insoles

Cadences Insoles

Aetrex Memory Foam

The10 seconds Insoles, Cadences Insoles, and Aetrex Memory Foam are only a few of the shoe inserts we carry.

Custom Orthotics

Finally, the MVP of the bunch, Custom Orthotics. Orthotics are different from both the insole of your shoe and inserts. In order to get a Custom Orthotic, a prescription is required from your doctor because it is considered a medical device. This medical device just happens to fit in your shoe and help correct foot issues like how you walk, stand, or run. Orthotics can also help with foot pain caused by certain medical conditions. A few common foot-related medical conditions are diabetes, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and arthritis.

As mentioned before a prescription is needed for us to make your Custom Orthotics. You may think we can give you a prescription but we cannot. That requires a podiatrist. We have three certified pedorthist on staff but they are different from a podiatrist.

A podiatrist is a medical professional devoted to the treatment of disorders of the foot, ankle, and related structures of the leg. They can prescribe medication, treatment, and surgery for your feet. They will diagnose and fix deformities, treat infections, and relieve pain. Their education includes four years of podiatric medical school as well as three years as a resident at a hospital. They can also be board certified and complete fellowships. A podiatrist is your first stop if your feet have some kind of foot problem or medical condition that affects your feet. They will give your feet a fully comprehensive assessment and that will give a pedorthist the information required to design you a pair of custom foot orthotics.

Each Custom Orthotic is handmade in-store to fit your specific foot.

As pedorthists, we manage and treat problems of the foot, ankle, and lower extremities that require fitting, fabrication, and adjusting for custom devices. A degree isn’t required but we must complete 1000 hours of practical experience and pass a certification exam. By practical experience we mean we have work records, notarized statements, or other documents that state we have used the information we learned. We understand the different properties of footwear and how they’ll affect a patient’s foot. We can also evaluate your feet, fit you with footwear, and modify your shoes for you.

All of this to say, Custom Orthotics are made just to fit your feet and solve your personal feet problems. No two Custom Orthotics are exactly the same because no two feet are the same. A pair of orthotics may seem pricy but they can possibly save you from a more costly surgery. With our three fully trained and certified pedorthists and instore lab, all you need is a prescription and appointment and we can make you your own custom orthotics today!

Do you already have a prescription for Custom Orthotics? If so, schedule an appointment this month to take advantage of our BOGO Custom Orthotics sale. Buy one pair of custom orthotics at regular price and receive 20% off of the second pair.

*Offer valid 5/1/22-5/31/22. Some restrictions apply.

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