Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are used to help relieve the tension and resultant inflammation associated with plantar fasciitis – inflammation and degeneration of the thick band of tissue that supports the sole of your foot. 

The classic signs of plantar fasciitis are a sharp pain in the base of the heel that is worse first thing in the morning or after you’ve been sitting for any length of time.  Those first few steps can be agony.  The pain usually starts to ease off after a while but often returns later.

Two of the most common causes of plantar fasciitis are muscle imbalance (weakness and tightness) and poor foot biomechanics (such as fallen arches), so orthotics for plantar fasciitis help to combat these.

There are three main types of orthotics for plantar fasciitis: Heel Pads, Shoe Insoles and Night Splints.  Here, we will look at how they work and compare and review different products to help you find the best ones for you.

Heel Cups / Pads

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis can really help to reduce pain and inflammation associated with the condition

Heel cups are popular orthotics for plantar fasciitis.  They work in two ways.  Firstly, they lift the heel up slightly which reduces the tension on the Achilles tendon, which in turn, reduces the tension on the plantar fascia itself.  They also provide cushioning and shock absorption for the heel, again reducing the stress on the plantar fascia, particularly if you have also developed a bone spur on the heel.

These are the smallest and simplest of the orthotics for plantar fasciitis.  They simply slip into the back of the shoe and are generally made from a gel substance or plastic which absorbs shock as you walk or run.  With the gel heel cups, there is an element of flexibility in them, which is often preferable to the more rigid types of insole orthotics for plantar fasciitis. 

Tuli's Heel Cups

Tuli have developed waffle style design heel cups that absorb shock.  The multi-layered design allows them to move and rotate in the way your foot is designed to.  They stay in place well and come in three different sizes

Tuli's heel cups receive really good user reviews with an average rating of 4/5.  Users say they notice the benefits of these almost immediately.

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $9/£9)

Dr Scholl's Gel Heel Cups

There are a whole range of gel heel cups on the market.  The slip into the back of your shoe and provide support and cushioning.  Some are more effective than others so it is important to choose and well-respected brand. 

Dr Scholl’s massaging gel heel cushions generally come out top, with an average user rating of 4.3/5.  Available in a range of sizes.  Usually sold with 1 per pack.

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $5/£8)

SAFETY ADVICE: Heel cups should always be worn in both shoes otherwise you are left with a slight difference in leg length which can cause problems in the foot, knee and back. 

Shoe Insoles

Sometimes, people need more support than just at the heel and benefit from longer orthotics for plantar fasciitis.  These help to correct foot biomechanical problems by supporting the foot arches to reduce the strain on the plantar fascia.  They also provide cushioning and support throughout the sole of the foot.  Some are the full length of a shoe, others come about half way down. 

Full Length Inserts

Superfeet insoles are great orthotics for plantar fasciitis

These run the full length of your shoe, so stay in place well.  The most popular brand is Superfeet which receive an average user rating of 4.5/5. Antimicrobial coating. They have a deep heel cup and contoured shape to support foot biomechanics.

You can choose from green, yellow or blue. Available in a whole range of sizes. Sold in pairs.

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $44/£32)

Half Length Insoles

These orthotics for plantar fasciitis fit inside the shoe, underneath the heel and arch of the foot, leaving the toes free. 

The most popular brand is Dr Scholl's Pain Relief Orthotic (PRO) receiving an average user reviews of 4.3/5.  One pair per pack. Clinically proven to relieve heel pain. Provides a combination of cushioning and arch support.

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $10/£13)

Night Splint Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis

Night splint orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great way to treat the condition while you are sleeping.  They work by holding the foot and toes back so that a gentle stretch is maintained on the calf muscles, Achilles tendon and plantar fascia all through the night.  Usually, we sleep with our feet pointing down making these structures more prone to tightening, so night splint orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great way combat to that. 

People often find that by using a night splint, they no longer suffer from sharp pain in their heels when they first get up in the morning as the foot has been stretched out, preventing further micro-tears developing in the tissues and instead, allowing them to heal.  They are a really simple, yet effective way to eliminate those first painful steps each day.

There are a three different styles on the market to choose from:

Boot Style Cast

Boot style casts are great orthotics for plantar fasciitis

These provide the most support and best stretch, staying in place well all night.  They are made up of a light-weight frame, foam padding and three adjustable padded straps.  Some have an extra foam wedge that can be used if you want to increase the stretch further over time.  

The downsides of plantar fasciitis night splints like these are that some people find them a bit cumbersome and not particularly comfortable to sleep in and they are not designed to wear when walking.  They do however tend to be the most effective, receiving average ratings of 4/5

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $21/£20)

Sleep Supports

Sleep support orthotics for plantar fasciitis

These are smaller and less cumbersome than the boot casts which some people find more comfortable for sleeping in.  The main bulk of the support is around the front of the calf, rather than the back and they are much shorter than the boot style support making them less cubersome. 

They receive good ratings averaging 3.8/5 but some people complain that they don’t stay in place all night as well as the boot style casts. 

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $22/£23)

Sock Style Supports

Sock style supports for plantar fasciitis

This plantar fasciitis night splint fits like a normal long sock, but has Velcro and fabric straps so you can pull the ankle and toes up.  It is lightweight and made of woven fabric. 

Many people who have found the harder splints uncomfortable to wear swear by these instead.  They are also a good option if you are travelling. Available in 2 sizes, regular or large.

Read: User Reviews   Buy Now: ON SALE (guide price $35/£40)

What Else Can Help?

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great way to reduce pain and inflammation, but if used in isolation, the problem may well return.  There are a number of other treatments that can be used in conjunction with orthotics for plantar fasciitis such as exercises, ice, injections and toe stretchers

To find out more visit the Top 10 treatments for plantar fasciitis and the plantar fasciitis stretching and strengthening exercises sections.

Go to the Overview or Top 10 Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis

*Prices correct as of September 2016.  All prices are subject to change.  Please note we do not stock products directly and therefore have no control over price changes. See Advertising Policy for more information

New! Comments

Share your foot pain experiences with others, whether it be ideas, top tips, things that worked well for you, problems you've had, questions etc.......

See Also

Common Causes of Foot Pain

Diagnose Your Pain

Foot & Ankle Anatomy

Treatment Options for Foot Problems

What Is Plantar Fasciitis?

Advertising Policy

Visitor Comments

"Thank you so much! Your website is a fountain of information! I was worrying about top of foot pain, and your suggestions for strengthening and stretching are helping immensely."
Retha, US

"Your info took me straight to the problem. Well described and clearly explained."
Rick, US

"Thanks for having these exercises available! I performed a few and they have helped tremendously with my foot pain."
Jennifer, UK

"Thank you for this information, it is very useful."
Seluleko, Zimbabwe

"Some really good suggestions and information"
Denise, US

"I have suffered these symptoms for over a year seen two doctors and a physio. None of them diagnosed this. Hope its not too late to put your advice into practice." Lezlee, UK

"Certainly it has helped me to understand and educate me on the issue."
Madhuri, India

"Very interesting! All good information. Tried a few stretches, already feels good."
Cindy, US