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Insoles and foot orthoses

Patient information A-Z

General information

Insoles may be prescribed for a variety of reasons. They can help to correct the alignment of your feet and legs and/or redistribute pressure to relieve painful areas and protect your feet from abnormal pressure. Proper alignment is important for balancing and distributing your body weight more evenly, thereby reducing excessive pressure and stress on your feet, ankles, knees and other body parts.

In most situations, insoles are able to correct mild to moderate foot problems and reduce associated pain and protect feet from future problems. Because each person is unique, so is his or her response to treatment. As you adjust to this new and proper alignment, you may experience some discomfort. The adjustment period usually ranges from one to six weeks when the recommended wearing guidelines are followed. Children will also experience this period of adjustment to wearing insoles. It is important that parents check their child’s feet regularly to take account of growth. As a rough guide, insoles will continue to fit for approximately two shoe sizes of growth.

Please remember to bring your insoles when attending appointments with your orthotist, even if they are worn out or no longer fit.

If you have any questions about the type of insoles you have been recommended, please talk to your orthotist. Your orthotist is there to work with you to choose the best approach and ensure your comfort.


Your insoles have been prescribed for you and they are intended for your use only.

Your insoles are designed to conform to the shape of your feet and may feel slightly ‘strange’ due to the realignment of the foot, and pressure redistribution and will therefore require a gentle breaking-in period.

Wear time

  • Start slowly, only wearing your insoles for a maximum of one hour on the first day, with low to moderate activities.
  • Increase the wearing time each day, by one to two hours until you are comfortable wearing your insoles all day.
  • Do not use your insoles during peak activities such as work or sports for example until you are comfortable wearing your insoles for several hours without discomfort.
  • If you experience any pain or discomfort, remove the insoles from your shoes for at least two to four hours and then try again. If pain persists, stop wearing them and make an appointment to see your orthotist for an adjustment.
  • The greatest long-term benefits are achieved when you are consistent about wearing your insoles on a daily basis.


Select good shoes with proper support and always try them on with the insoles in place to ensure proper fit. Suitable fitting and supportive footwear is vital to the function of the insoles and overall comfort.

  • The best type of shoes to wear with your insoles should have a closed back and toe, come up over the top of the feet like laced-up sport shoes, low heels, a removable innersole and a slightly wider width to accommodate the insoles.
  • Be sure to wear stockings or socks to minimize the possibility of skin irritation.
  • Ensure that the insole sits flat in the shoe and is not folded up or creased.
  • During use, ensure that footwear is secured as tightly as is comfortable.
  • Your insoles should be transferable between most of your shoes.

Skin care

Check your feet carefully every day for any reddened or tender areas, which could indicate a problem with the fit of your shoes or the insoles. Please make a review appointment should you feel any prolonged discomfort, rubbing or chafing.


A wide variety of materials is used to make insoles and enhance durability whilst providing the necessary comfort and support for your activity level. With most of the materials used today, your insoles should last about 12 months with moderate use and proper care.

However, if the material on the bottom of your insoles gets worn down, or if your insoles break, contact the Orthotics Department immediately. Do not attempt to fix the insoles yourself.


  • To reduce bacterial growth, clean your insoles at least once per fortnight using a damp cloth.
  • Allow to dry naturally in the air. Avoid drying in direct sources of heat (such as on the heater or using a hair dryer).
  • Remove your insoles from the shoes at night to allow a natural drying process.


  • You are entitled to one pair of insoles at a time.
  • Your insoles will be replaced if they are beyond repair or are no longer fit for purpose.
  • Careful monitoring of children’s feet is required. During periods of peak growth, insoles may need to be replaced more frequently.

Contact information

The contact details for the department are:

Addenbrookes Rehabilitation Clinic (Clinic 9)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Box 120, Addenbrooke's Hospital
Hills Road, Cambridge, CB2 0QQ

01223 217859

If you are from outside the Cambridge area and wish to receive future orthotic treatment from a more local service you should contact your GP.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151