Nurses Rely On Both These $15 and $41 Inserts for 12-Hour Shifts, But Which Is Best for Back and Knee Pain?

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We compare two nurse-loved shoe inserts side-by-side.

Powerstep / Dr. Scholl
Powerstep / Dr. Scholl's

May 6 is the first day of nurse appreciation week, and there’s a lot to thank medical workers for. In addition to their life-saving knowledge and skills, the long days and nights that the work requires (sometimes more than 12 hours straight) are spent walking and standing with little time to rest. For this reason, nurses are experts when it comes to managing foot and joint aches. While comfy, supportive shoes are a hospital worker’s first line of defense against soreness, those who suffer from persistent problems like knee sensitivity, plantar fasciitis, chronic foot pain, arched and flat feet, and pronation issues often use slip-in orthotic inserts for even more support on the job. 

Inserts “can help bring the foot's arch back up to a more neutral position,” podiatrist Jaqueline Sutera D.P.M. previously explained to Shape. They “can also offer added cushion, comfort, shock absorption, and padding," she said. If you spend much of the day on your feet or are simply looking for pain relief and injury prevention, orthotics may offer a solution. Below, we compare two nurse-loved options, the $41 PowerStep Pinnacle Insoles and $15 Dr. Scholl’s Extra Support Orthotics, to help you decide whether to save or splurge.

Save: Dr. Scholl’s Extra Support Orthotics



Buy It: $15,

Key Features:

Main Specs: A reinforced arch support on the inner side of the midfoot corrects weight imbalances by distributing pressure evenly across the foot, which in turn reduces fatigue.

Other features: The brand’s shock guard technology absorbs the impact of every step, reducing stress on your feet, ankles, knees, and back. Plus, these inserts have a notably thin shape, allowing them to easily fit into most shoes.

Best for: People of all weights, but especially those who weigh more than 160 pounds, those who are frequently standing and suffer from lower back and foot pain or leg fatigue.

What We Love:

One of the greatest strengths of these insoles is their ability to support people of all sizes (which should be the bare minimum, but unfortunately is not always the case). Additionally, they’ve earned more than 57,000 perfect Amazon ratings (!!!) and dozens of rave reviews from medical professionals. These have “changed my life,” wrote one nurse, who swears they no longer feel back, neck, and foot pain, even after staying on their feet “all day.” Another nurse dealing with lower back and leg discomfort agreed that these insoles have “exponentially improved” their overall comfort during 12-hour workdays by offering “incredible support.” “I didn’t not have an ounce of pain or fatigue after my first shift of wearing them,” they added.

Keep In Mind:

Some reviewers noticed a slight sound while walking (a common issue with brand new inserts), but many add that it’s only audible in completely quiet settings. Multiple shoppers pointed out that a sprinkle of baby powder between the sole of your shoe and bottom of the insert is enough to hush any noise.

Splurge: Powerstep Pinnacle Insoles



Buy It: $41,

Main Specs: Two layers of plush cushioning cradle your heel and forefoot, absorbing shock from hard surfaces and correcting pronation issues that may lead to knee pain, plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, and general fatigue. 

Other features: Stiffening around the midfoot supports your arch in order to minimize collapsing, which can aggravate the tissue running lengthwise across your feet. Plus, this design is constructed from antimicrobial fabric — a major bonus for those concerned about sweat and odor.

Best for: Those who spend most of the day on their feet, those with arch, heel, knee, hip, and back pain, and those dealing with shin splints and bone spurs.

What We Love:

This pair was awarded a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for “promoting good foot health,” and so many nurses swear by them. “These inserts are the gold standard of supports,” wrote one hospital worker, who raved that they support their feet and prevent knee, hip, and back pain. An ICU worker whose limbs used to “ache terribly” after working for more than 13 hours added that their leg and plantar fasciitis pains “were gone” after switching to these “amazing” insoles.

Keep In Mind:

Some reviewers note that the thickness of these insoles makes certain shoes feel a little too tight.

In Conclusion:

Recognition from APMA indicates a product's undoubtable benefits for long-term orthopedic health, and the design of the Powerstep Pinnacle Insoles certainly represents that, especially for wearers with sensitive joints and backs. However, for $26 less, the Dr. Scholls inserts are also a great choice for relieving and preventing soreness, and may even be a better option for those with lower back pain thanks to their weight-distributing features.

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Read the original article on Shape.