Best Heel Cups Reviewed & Rated for Pain Relief
NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs), injections, physical therapy and exercises, athletic taping, and orthotics are all effective ways of treating pain in the heel area. The list below looks at the best heel cups currently available for purchase, with different types suitable for varying degrees of discomfort. With detailed descriptions and pros and cons for each product, you'll easily find the best one for you.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Choose the type of heel insert best suited for the condition you're suffering from.
As we mentioned at the beginning of this guide, causes for heel pain are numerous. They can be only temporary, a result of growing feet in teenagers for example, or they can be quite serious and debilitating, even requiring surgery as treatment.
The type of heel cups you’re looking for can depend on the reason for your heel pain. Below we talk about some of the most common causes of heel pain, and what features a good pair of cups should have to combat them effectively.
Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain. There is a tendon, a ligament, which runs from your heel bone across your sole to the tip of your foot, and this medical condition is an inflammation of that tendon.
Causes of plantar fasciitis are various and not strictly defined. Factors that contribute to it are tight calf muscles, obesity, high arches, repetitive impact activities such as running or sports, and new or increased activities of this type – if you have suddenly taken up exercising, for example.
Every time your heel strikes the ground, there is a great amount of pressure placed on the tendon which can cause micro-tears in the tissue. This is why heel inserts that have shock-absorbing properties work well in the case of plantar fasciitis. They should also have some cushioning, to soften the blow and make you feel comfortable.
If your gait is out of alignment, those that correct either pronation or supination are preferable as well.
A heel spur is a calcium deposit in the heel bone, creating a bony protrusion on the underside of your heel. These deposits are usually symptom-free, but sometimes they can cause chronic heel pain, especially during intense walking, jogging or high-impact sports activities.
Heel spurs are caused by strains on foot muscles and tendons and are most common among athletes who spend a lot of time running or jumping. Other factors, such as excess weight, ill-fitting shoes, diabetes, flat feet or high arches, also contribute to the formation of heel spurs.
When it comes to relieving pain, shock absorption is a must. While alignment correction is not a major factor in treating heel spurs, heel inserts in the shape of a donut – with an empty space where the spur would be – help alleviate the pain and prevent further calcium build-up in the heel.
Bursae are fluid-filled sacs near the joints in your body which protect them and help them move smoothly. Bursitis is a condition that develops when these sacs become inflamed, swollen, and painful.
Bursitis in the heel has much the same causes as plantar fasciitis – high-impact activities and uphill running especially – but it can also be caused by foot deformities, as well as injuries to the foot. Additionally, one of the most common causes of heel bursitis is ill-fitting shoes which cut into the back of the heel.
Orthotics and heel inserts greatly help in this case, particularly those which provide cushioning and support and correct gait abnormalities.
There are other causes for heel pain, such as the tarsal tunnel syndrome – where a nerve in the back of the foot is compressed – and stress fractures, as well as Achilles tendinosis and other chronic conditions. For some of these, heel inserts are beneficial, but for others, they don’t have any effect at all, and might even cause more harm than good.
Make sure to always consult with your doctor in case of intense, persistent pain in your heel. The doctor will conduct a check-up, diagnose you and recommend the proper course of treatment, which might or might not include heel inserts. Before you make any major decisions about your lifestyle or the way you walk and what shoes you wear, it is imperative that you reach out to a medical professional.
Shock-absorption is essential in reducing pain in the heel.
One of the main qualities of heel cups is that they absorb impact with each footstep. Due to the fact that heel pain is caused by the repeated pounding of the heel, it is essential that the forces and weight pressing onto the heel are minimized.
This is where the shock-absorption comes into play, and where cups that have this feature are always a favorite. They are especially beneficial for those who are on their feet and walking for most of the day.
For the best results, look for products that have a waffle design, as they return the maximum amount of energy on impact. The waffle construction allows them to be lightweight and flexible, while at the same time they provide all the shock-absorption that you need to keep going for hours on end.
Focus on alignment correction, support, and shock-absorption to minimize the pain in your heel.
Not all heel cups offer the same type of support or relieve heel pain in the same way. There are common features, but there are also those unique only to specific products. Here we have listed them all so that you can determine which features are the most important to you and which ones you can maybe do without.
Alignment Correction: While the exact causes of plantar fasciitis are not entirely clear, it is evident that an incorrect manner of walking contributes to this condition. There are two terms we should introduce here: pronation, when the foot rolls inward and the arch of the foot flattens, and supination when the foot rolls outward. Both of these are unnatural ways of walking and further exacerbate symptoms of plantar fasciitis, increasing the heel pain.
What some cups have the ability to do is to correct these alignment problems. They are slanted and, depending on how you fit them in your shoe, they can aid in pronation and supination and relieve any discomfort caused by these issues.
Cushioning: We have already mentioned that cushioning is actually not the most important factor when it comes to cups that relieve pain. It is preferable, yes, as it amps up comfort levels of any shoe and softens the surface of the insole, easing the pain in the heel. For uncomfortable footwear and minor problems with heel pain, this could be enough.
However, in serious medical conditions, heel inserts with proper support, shock-absorption, and alignment correction features are far more effective in helping with heel pain than cups which only provide padding to the shoe.
Consider whether you need moldable cups, those that have anti-microbial properties or non-slip bottom layers.
Moldability: There are heel cups on the market that come with a unique feature of being able to mold to your foot. Before using these cups for the first time, you submerge them in hot water for around 30 seconds and then mold them around your socked feet, using your hands.
After they cool down to room temperature, you are free to put them in your shoes and enjoy that customized fit. If they lose shape over time, you can always repeat the molding process.
Antimicrobial Properties: Due to the fact that cups stay inside your shoes for longer periods of time – and perhaps you even switch them between your favorite footwear – it is vital that they have antimicrobial properties.
When we are on our feet the whole day, especially if it is hot outside, our feet tend to sweat. A damp, hot environment is ideal for bacteria and fungi growth, which can lead to many unpleasantries, such as bad odor, itchiness, and infections. Antimicrobial heel cups help prevent all of that and maintain a dry and healthy climate for your feet.
Non-slip: It can get very frustrating very fast when you purchase a pair of inserts which are supposed to help you with your heel pain, but they only end up moving around inside your shoe. They don’t stay in one place, do anything to support or cushion your footsteps, and become a waste of money.
This is why it is important to look for cups that have a non-slip pad at the bottom, so that you can be sure they won’t slosh around and that you can make the most out of their pain-relieving qualities.
To get the best value for your money, evaluate how often you use these inserts, and exactly what type of technologies you need in them.
When shopping for any type of orthotic insert, heel cups included, you want to get the absolute best value for your money. Not only did you likely spend a considerable amount on all your footwear, but investing in inserts can quickly add up to a large sum, especially if you are shopping for more than one pair of shoes.
What will work best for you in terms of value will greatly depend on your routine, as well as your foot health. Those with more serious issues will need to purchase cups with higher-level shock absorbing abilities, as well as some level of arch support.
If, however, you're only trying to make footwear work better for you, you may be well off with a simple pair of silicone inserts.
The list above features designs that have a wide range of costs. Some are more durable while others will need to be replaced more frequently. Some you can move from shoe to shoe, while others use strong adhesives to keep them in place.
On the whole, it is highly advised to read each product description before buying, as well as to pay attention to the pros and cons, and to customer reviews to ensure a purchase you'll be happy with, in the long run.
1. Pedag Perfect
Pedag, aside from having a funny name, is a company with a long history and tradition. It was founded in 1955 in Germany, and since then has been producing high-quality insoles, foot supports and shoe care products. This label always has the best interests of their customers in mind, and so they developed the Perfect, strong heel inserts that provide a firm hold and relieve pain.
Unlike most other options on this list which are made from gel, the Perfect has a leather surface and a cushioning made from latex and rubber. This provides durability, slip resistance and a flexible feeling. The leather is there for a healthy foot climate, free of moisture and bad odors, while the latex cushioning absorbs impact and stabilizes the heel, delivering pain relief in conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Not only that, but the Perfect comes with a self-adhesive bottom, meaning that they will easily stay in place inside your shoe.
We are having a hard time finding a flaw in this pair of heel inserts. It is supportive, impact-absorbing, and it even ensures that your feet are healthy! Truly, from such a renowned company we haven’t expected any less. Choose the Pedag Perfect for an ultimate experience, where you will be comfortable and pain and smell-free!
2. Pimimiies Protector
This model isn’t quite something that you can slide into your footwear and be on your way. Rather, the Pimimiies Protector is a more heavy-duty product, one that you fasten around your foot with a simple closure and which then helps alleviate pain, no matter what its cause is. The Protector is used for plantar fasciitis, ankle support, other heel pain, metatarsal pain, heel spurs, and many more conditions and situations.
This is a pair of heel inserts constructed from medical-grade silicone. It is flexible, fitting most foot sizes, and it is also shock absorbing and breathable. The shock absorption is necessary to diminish the impact of your heel strikes and reduce the pressure and long term damage your joints may suffer from. In terms of breathability, the Pimimiies Protector comes with perforations all over, for better airflow and a sweat-free ride. It also provides compression, which is much needed when it comes to pain in this part of the foot.
While it may not look like it, the Pimimiies Protector can be worn under socks or stockings and with shoes. It is not a simple solution compared to some other ones on our list, but it is an effective one, especially if you are suffering from pain that you haven’t been able to get rid of otherwise. It doesn’t hurt to try out this sturdy option!
3. Profoot Good Posture
This is a completely unique product that made the list because of its ability to ensure proper posture and alignment, which is a key step in ensuring foot health. Oftentimes, heel pain will occur because excessive pressure is applied to the wrong part of the foot. With the Profoot Good Posture, this stops being a problem, as the device works to cradle the heel and arch, helping them achieve a neutral, healthy position.
These lightweight cups use lightweight materials to offer both cushioning and support. The most important aspect about them is that they don’t take up too much space in your shoes, preventing fit issues that are often a side-effect from wearing inserts. Additionally, the materials are adaptive, so the arch support portion adapts to the height of your natural arch, while the uniquely designed heel part works to cradle and align.
The top of these is lined with a woven textile that resembles what would be found in most regular shoes, and they come with adhesive dots you can use to secure them inside your footwear. You’ll also find that their shape works with most types of footwear (although not recommended for sandals and such). As for cost, they come at an affordable price, though smaller sizes do tend to run cheaper.
4. Softior Comfort
If you’re looking for a heel cup that is cushioning and easy to use in most of your footwear, then the Softior Comfort may be the ideal solution for you. This model has as its main goal to absorb shock in the sensitive heel area without modifying the fit of your footwear or changing the level of arch support it provides you with. It’s a great product to use inside formal footwear and comes in two size options for the best possible fit.
Made with memory foam, these cups will provide the highest level of cushioning towards the middle portion of the insert, while the sides are tapered in order to prevent fit issues with your footwear. As the material used is highly durable, you can expect these to last for months, or even years.
The Softior Comfort comes in packs of six that work for three pairs of footwear. They’re brightly colored for a fun experience and are easy to use. Before putting them inside your shoes, you will have to clean them thoroughly to remove excess oil, moisture or dirt, then simply peel off the film and place them.
They can be removed and inserted as many times as needed, and can even be washed for a fresh feel. The price is affordable, making this a great product to start with if you’re just getting interested in pain relief solutions.
5. ViveSole Silicone Gel
ViveSole Silicone Gels are premium cups that provide superior support for the foot and ankle and minimize any pain or swelling. They are specially designed to relieve pain caused by spurs and plantar fasciitis and are ideal for people who spend the whole day on their feet. With its silicone gel construction, the ViveSole Silicone Gel is extremely shock-absorbing, latex-free and is quite easy to wash - by hand with only a little bit of mild detergent. It fits all types of shoes and can even be worn inside a sock if required.
The main quality of the ViveSole Silicone Gel is that it evenly distributes the pressure created with each step. It reduces foot strain and alleviates fatigue by supporting ankle muscles. The gel also has the properties of massaging the heel and providing instant shock absorption relief. The Vivesole Silicone Gel comes with a gel formulation that is not only latex-free but with antimicrobial properties as well. This material prevents bacteria build-up, which reduces the risk of infections, as well as prevents any unpleasant odors.
The Vivesole Silicone Gel is a solid pair of cups with plenty of benefits that will surely help you alleviate at least some of your pain.
6. Profoot Plantar Fasciitis
Profoot is a family-owned footcare business founded in 1986 by a licensed chiropractor. Their motto is: “The better your feet feel, the more you can do!” With that in mind, Profoot designed a pair of plantar fasciitis cups that are clinically tested and proven to fight inflammation and pain associated with this unpleasant medical condition. The Profoot insert supports the entire length of the plantar fascia, relieving stress and pain, and allows you to be on your feet for as long as you want.
When it comes to plantar fasciitis, it is important to have cushioning and support down the entire length of this tendon. The Profoot cups provide just that - with its unique design, the product cradles the tender heel throughout the day, guaranteeing relief during standing, walking, and even hiking. The Profoot insert comes with a gel layer that absorbs shock during all of your daily activities. You can be free to not only walk around but also run and exercise because this insert will ensure that you are pain-free no matter what you do.
For a pair of heel inserts which has been clinically proven to reduce pain and provide instant relief to patients suffering from plantar fasciitis, the Profoot Plantar Fasciitis is amazingly affordable. We see no reason why you shouldn’t get it right now and enjoy all the benefits it has to offer.
7. Dr. Scholl’s Plantar Fasciitis
This model of heel cups by Dr. Scholl’s is actually a full-length insole perfect for those looking to achieve a great fit inside their footwear. Made as a regular insert, it can be used to replace the removable footbeds insider your shoes, and it won’t create bulk in the back. Furthermore, because it is a full-length product, it won’t shift or lose adhesive power as quickly as most other cups listed.
The best application of these is to alleviate the symptoms of ailments such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, knee pain, shin splints, and others. It soothes and supports the entire foot, all the while providing several unique benefits. First and foremost, there is a reinforced arch support section that prevents the tendons in this part of the foot from working overtime, overall improving the shock-absorbing abilities of the foot. This amount of support in the arch and heel ensures proper alignment and a healthy walking pattern.
The material used in these is Shock Guard, a gel-like component in the heel area that is highly efficient in protecting the foot from impact. The upper layer is soft and pleasant to the touch, and the entire insole can be adjusted in size to achieve the perfect fit. This product is non-slip, so you won’t have to worry about shifting, and being made with great materials, it will work wonderfully for both casual, athletic, and professional wear.
As for the price point, it’s quite affordable and an excellent product to try if you don’t have previous experience with heel insoles.
8. Heel Defender Heel Cup
Heel inserts can be difficult to find if you’re looking for a model designed specifically with athletes in mind. However, the Heel Defender is precisely that type of product, and if you’re an active person who needs added shock absorption in this sensitive foot area, it is definitely the model to check out. It can be purchased in two sizes and is suitable for use with most flat footwear. It can also be used by teens and children, which is not often seen in products of this type.
If you’re after the best possible quality, you’ll definitely be happy to hear that the Heel Defender is made in the USA, and comes with a satisfaction guarantee. Furthermore, it’s made from a highly efficient material called Sorbothane which absorbs as much as 94.7% of shock, preventing pain and further damage to those suffering from discomfort in this area.
These can be used to alleviate symptoms of plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, as well as Achilles tendonitis, which is a common ailment among athletes. Its thin design means that it won’t change the fit of your footwear (even snug shoes made for peak performance).
Furthermore, you can place the Heel Defender underneath your insoles so as to prevent shifting and slipping, which is especially advised when using with athletic footwear. The price of these cups does require an investment that’s slightly larger than the other products listed, nonetheless, it is an excellent investment for those looking for something they can use during workouts.
9. Dr. Scholl's Pain Relief
This list would not be complete without a world-renowned foot health manufacturer that is Dr. Scholl’s. For pain in the heel, this brand offers Pain Relief, an orthotic that treats pain right at the source, for instant relief and all-day comfort. The word orthotic may sound intimidating, but the truth is that these are simple cups that you put into your shoes - whichever style they happen to be - and you can forget about pain! How amazing!
The Pain Relief product comes with Dr. Scholl’s special Shock Guard Technology. This means that it reduces shock at every step, immediately relieves pain and is both supportive and cushiony for extra comfort. These are great for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis and spurs, or even for those who spend too much time on their feet and need something to protect their joints from overuse.
Dr. Scholl’s Pain Relief fits all types of footwear - from sneakers to dress shoes to work boots, and it doesn’t require any trimming. If for any reason you happen to be unsatisfied with the cups, the brand offers a Money Back Guarantee, which we find is a great deal! For an active, pain-free lifestyle, go for Dr. Scholl’s Pain Relief!
10. Spenco Rx Heel Cushion
Spenco was founded in 1967 by Dr. Wayman Spence, and since then has grown to become one of the leading manufacturers of foot health products. Their Rx Heel Cushion is the latest innovative design that stands out among the rest for one key characteristic: it can fit into heels as well! That’s right, you can now be comfortable and pain-free in your favorite office pumps or party heels without worrying whether or not you will be able to keep up with the events of the day (or night).
This heel cushion is made using SpenCore, which cushions impact and reduces the pressure put on the heel. The top layer is made from a 4-way stretch fabric that is gentle on your skin and ensures you won’t suffer from any blisters. It is also treated with Silpure, an antimicrobial agent that controls odor and makes sure your feet always feel fresh. The tapered edges of the Rx allow it to easily fit into most types of footwear, including athletic shoes, boots and, of course, heels!
The Rx heel cups come in three sizes, small, medium and large, and you will find that they are comfortable to wear anytime any place. If you craved that versatility and ease of use, then look no further! The Spenco Rx Heel Cushion is here to make your life so much less stressful and to ease the pain your heels are regularly suffering from. Try it out as soon as you can!