Halt Heel Pain with Shoe Inserts

Halt Heel Pain with Shoe Inserts

Whether you’re an avid runner going for a PR, a hiker on the trails of Oak Cliff Nature Preserve, or a parent rushing through life, heel pain can be a cruel foe — but it’s not undefeatable. 

Francine Rhinhart, DPM, offers Dallasites a simple yet life-changing solution — shoe inserts. In this comprehensive guide, she explains shoe insert designs, how they combat various types of heel pain, and why investing in the right pair could transform your life.

Root causes of heel pain

The causes of heel pain are as varied as they are complex, and identifying the root cause is the only way to step into the right treatment.  Here’s a walk-through:


Bursitis is inflammation of the bursa, tiny sacs of fluid that cushion the tendons, ligaments, and bones near your joints. In the heel, bursitis is typically the result of excess pressure or stress due to biomechanical imbalances.


Degenerative joint changes due to wear-and-tear, injury, or age can result in arthritis. The heel's complicated structure makes it particularly susceptible to joint-related pain.

Bone bruise

A bone bruise, often the result of a direct impact or strain, is micro-damage to the inner structures of the bone. In the heel, this can be extremely painful and slow to heal.

Plantar fasciitis

One of the most common culprits is plantar fasciitis, which occurs when the long, flat ligament that spans the bottom of your foot — the plantar fascia — becomes strained, leading to pain in your heel.

Sprains and strains

Soft tissue injuries, such as sprains or strains, result from overstretching or tearing ligaments that support the ankle or other joints. When they occur in the lower extremities, they can cause significant heel pain.

Achilles tendinitis

Achilles tendinitis is the irritation or inflammation of the large tendon in the back of the ankle, which can lead to severe pain and stiffness in the heel area.

Stress fracture

Stress fractures are tiny cracks in the bone, typically caused by repetitive force or overuse, such as running long distances or prolonged jumping.

Fat pad atrophy

Fat pad atrophy is a common condition among older adults where the natural cushioning in the heel wears away, leaving the padding less effective at protecting the foot.

Types of shoe inserts

When heel pain makes you wince instead of winning, the right pair of shoe inserts, also known as insoles, can help. These inserts come in various forms, from off-the-shelf options to custom-made medical devices. 

Here’s a breakdown of the types of inserts for heel pain.

Arch supports

The arch support insert provides additional support to the midfoot area. Maintaining the arch in its most efficient, least-stressed position can alleviate heel pain caused by overpronation or oversupination — conditions where the foot rolls excessively inward or outward during walking.

Heel supports

As the name suggests, heel support inserts specifically target the heel, cushioning it and reducing impact shock. This type of insert is particularly effective in relieving heel pain from conditions like plantar fasciitis and providing protection from stress fractures.

Shoe padding

The simplest form of inserts, shoe padding inserts are cushions you can place in different areas of your shoe to provide additional comfort and support where you need it most. They provide temporary relief or protection against recurrences of heel pain due to various causes.

Custom orthotics vs. over-the-counter solutions

The debate between custom orthotics and store-bought shoe inserts often revolves around the concept of “you get what you pay for.” While over-the-counter options can provide minor relief, people with more complex biomechanical issues and chronic heel pain find greater benefit from the tailored support of custom orthotics. 

Here are the differences you should weigh in your decision-making process.


The most significant advantage custom orthotics offer is their precision. They’re crafted based on a three-dimensional image of your foot and designed under Dr. Rhinehart’s expert direction, ensuring that every contour and pressure point receives the exact support needed to encourage optimal alignment and gait. 

This level of specificity can result in more significant, long-term relief for people with complex foot issues.


Custom orthotics are built with durability in mind, using high-quality materials that can withstand daily use over a prolonged period. This robustness can mean fewer replacements and a more substantial investment in your health and comfort over time.

Medical supervision

Since Dr. Rhinehart prescribes and oversees your custom orthotics, you have the advantage of her medical expertise in addressing your heel pain. Her experience and skill in fitting and understanding your condition make a significant difference in the effectiveness of your treatment plan.

For the sprinters and strollers, the joggers and the jocks, heel pain can be an insurmountable roadblock — but custom shoe inserts can break the barrier and get you moving pain-free. To learn more, call Francine Rhinehart, DPM, or book online. 

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