A frozen toe—known as hallux rigidus—or a semi-frozen toe—hallux limitus—can make everyday movements like walking, running, or kneeling difficult and painful.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to help slow down the progression of the condition. One of those things is to wear the best hallux rigidus insoles in your shoes to redistribute your body weight and reduce pressure.
The Tread Labs Dash is our top pick. It has 5mm-thick, cushioned top covers, a carbon fiber arch support, and is created in an easy and convenient 2-piece design.
Before changing your shoes, try using an insole to relieve the pain and discomfort of hallux rigidus.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Tread Labs Dash
SOLE Active Thick
Dr. Scholl’s Performance Insoles
1. Tread Labs Dash
Tread Labs Dash insoles are designed for active lifestyles like running and other sports, but they work wonders for hallux rigidus as well.
They are firm and offer sturdy support in the arch, thanks to carbon fiber arch supports that won’t flatten.
You can choose from 4 different arch heights—low, medium, high, extra high—so you get the right one for your foot. A deep heel cup in the insole helps to keep your foot stable and aligned.
These two features work together to reduce unnecessary pressure on your feet while improving stability.
The top cover is 5mm of thick foam that provides light shock absorption and comfort. Not only are these cushioned, but they’re also perforated for breathability and include antimicrobial treatment to keep your feet fresh at all times.
The unique 2-piece design of this insole means that when the top cover does begin to wear out, you don’t have to buy a whole new insole.
All you need to do is buy a new top cover, which is more affordable and sustainable. The carbon fiber arch mold is guaranteed for life.
- 5mm-thick, perforated top covers
- Carbon fiber arch support
- Antimicrobial treatment
- Deep heel cup
- Some may feel that these insoles are uncomfortably firm
2. Vionic Relief Full-Length Orthotic Insert
This insert is a one-piece, full-length orthotic. The base is made of medium-density EVA foam, with a deep heel cup that holds the foot firmly in its correct place.
Semi-rigid arch support is designed to provide moderate stability. Tri-Planar Motion Control technology provides stability in more than one place across the foot, to realign the foot, ankle, and lower leg joints.
There’s cushioning in both the forefoot and the rearfoot to absorb shock and disperse it so there’s no direct jarring.
On top of the cushion and underneath the foot, there’s a top layer that includes an EcoFresh microbe shield. This helps to prevent odor-causing bacteria from developing.
Although these insoles are full-length, they can be trimmed to fit inside most size shoes. However, the recommendations for ladies’ sizes are too big. When trimmed down, the arch support may end up in the wrong place. We recommend buying a size smaller.
- Semi-rigid orthotic insert
- Heel and forefoot cushioning
- Microbe shield technology
- Medium-density EVA foam base
- The ladies’ sizes run too long and cutting them may change the position of the arch support
3. SOLE Active Thick
If you’re looking to add some extra cushioning to what’s already in your shoes, then the SOLE Active Thick insole is a good choice.
It’s made up of two layers, which are 4.8 mm thick in total. The top Softec cushioning layer is 3.2 mm thick, which adds significant padding underfoot. It’s also a zero-drop insole, which means that there’s no extra pressure being placed on the forefoot.
A moisture-wicking top lining keeps the foot cool and dry and includes Polygiene Odor-Control technology.
The insole is heat-moldable and wear-moldable. Once worn and adapted to your foot, the insert provides semi-rigid arch support to keep the bones, tendons, and ligaments of the foot aligned.
Working with the arch support is a deep heel cup, so the foot has no option but to stay aligned until it becomes a habit. This helps to distribute weight evenly across the foot and reduce pressure on the toe joint.
These insoles are also vegan-friendly and free from latex, so they’re suitable for almost everybody to wear safely. Simply trim them to fit your shoes and then go through the heat molding process.
You will need to place the insoles on a baking tray and put them into an oven that has been preheated to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Leave them in for 2 minutes or until the Opti-therm indicator on the insoles goes black.
If it hasn’t turned black after 3 minutes, remove the insoles. Place them into your shoes immediately and make sure they’re lying flat. Step into your shoes and tighten them as you would normally.
Stand up straight and remain in that position for 2 minutes. As the insoles cool, they will mold to your feet. After 2 minutes, your insoles will be molded to your feet and you can continue.
- Softec cushioning
- Metatarsal support pad
- Semi-rigid arch support
- Zero-drop insole
- Getting the heat molding process wrong can ruin the insoles
4. Dr. Scholl’s Performance Insoles
These insoles feature a X-form reinforced arch support that corresponds with the size of the insole you choose.
This is helpful for those with neutral feet, but may not be sufficient for those who need extra arch support, either for flat feet or high arches.
They also used ActivPerform technology in the heel, which increases their shock-absorbing abilities. Dual-layer cushioning not only improves comfort but also provides a better energy return that adds to what your shoe offers.
There’s a metatarsal ridge in the forefoot, which helps to relieve pressure in the forefoot. This can help to take the strain off your big toe joint and relieve the pain associated with hallux rigidus.
A nDura top cloth wicks away moisture and also has integrated Polygiene Odor-Crunch technology to prevent the insole from developing a bad smell.
- Reinforced arch support
- Forefoot padding
- ActivPerform Technology in the heel
- Moisture-wicking top cloth with antimicrobial treatment
- Arch support may not be enough for high arches or flat feet
Best Thin Design
5. Estcarbon Carbon Fiber Insole
Although these insoles are thin, they’re highly durable because of their carbon fiber design.
They’re made from carbon fiber that’s just 1.2 mm thick, which means their low-profile design will hardly be felt when you’re wearing them.
You should insert these underneath the insole that’s already in your shoe. They’re very firm and may be uncomfortable for some as they reduce the foot’s range of motion. This is why using it with your existing midsole is recommended.
Their thin design makes them lightweight and very easy to insert into your shoe. Be aware that these are only sold as a single unit.
If you need them for both feet, you will have to buy two, which can be expensive.
- 1.2mm-thick carbon fiber
- Provides rigid support
- Flat plate design
- This insole is sold as a single plate, not as a pair
Top For Exercising
6. Superfeet RUN Pain Relief
Exercising can cause pain in the big toe joint, especially if you’re doing activities like running, jumping, or squatting.
The Superfeet RUN Pain Relief insoles are designed to reduce pain associated with exercise so you can perform at your best.
They provide medium to high arch support, which should be adequate for most arch types. This stabilizes the foot and keeps it properly aligned so there’s less strain on joints, regardless of what exercise you’re doing.
The heel cup is deep and stable, and it’s also reinforced for extra shock absorption. For added, customizable support in the heel, the insole comes with a removable heel counter.
Under the heel, a carbon fiber cap serves to stabilize the foot and cushion the feet from impact on every step. Therapeutic foam runs the length of the insole and can be trimmed to fit your shoe size.
- Medium to high arch support
- Reinforced heel cup
- Carbon fiber stabilizer cap
- Removable, independent heel stabilizer
- It may take a while to break these insoles in
Best For High Arches
7. Superfeet GREEN
If you have high arches, the Superfeet GREEN is for you. The high-profile shape provides good support for the foot and they also feature the most supportive, wide, deep heel cup of all the Superfeet insoles.
High-density foam does a great job at absorbing shock and provides rigid arch support. It uses its ADD/APT system to mold itself to your foot in a biomechanical shape so that you get the most effective support out of the insole.
Underneath the insole, a stabilizer cap helps to keep the rearfoot stable, preventing unnecessary movement and absorbing impact.
The top covers of these insoles are treated with an antimicrobial coating, and also wick away moisture. They are also latex-free, resistant to water, and can be trimmed to fit inside your shoe comfortably.
- Rigid arch support
- Biomechanical shape
- Closed-cell, high-density foam cushioning
- Antimicrobial coating
- Won’t be suitable for lower arches
Best Cork Insoles
8. Tread & Butter Suntoucher
Cork is a highly sustainable, lightweight, and easy-to-mold material. The Treat & Butter Suntoucher insole is designed for low arches, so it may not be suitable for those who have medium or high arches.
Underneath the cork footbed you’ll find plush Poron Vive cushioning, which offers good energy return, shock absorption, and is also breathable. X-STATIC silver technology integrated into the footbed eliminates any bacteria that could cause foot odor.
These insoles are sized separately for women and men, so there’s no need to worry about the arch being in the wrong place after trimming. If you wear a half-size, the manufacturer recommends going the nearest size up.
You may need to wear them for short periods of time for a few weeks before they break in properly.
- Ergonomic fit for low arches
- Made from natural cork
- Plush cushioning
- X-Static silver technology
- These insoles may take some time to break in
What is Hallux Rigidus?
Hallux rigidus is a form of degenerative arthritis in which the big toe—hallux—loses its mobility and becomes frozen in place. It’s actually a problem with the joint of the big toe rather than the toe itself.
It begins as hallux limitus, which is a stiffness in the big toe. Over time, the toe’s range of motion becomes less. You may notice pain and stiffness that gets worse in cold weather, or difficulty doing motions like squatting or running.
There may also be inflammation, swelling, or redness around the joint of the big toe.
In more severe cases, the cartilage in the joint may be worn away, which can cause bone on bone grinding when one attempts to move the toe.
Do Insoles Help Hallux Rigidus?
Insoles can be an effective part of treating hallux rigidus or hallux limitus.
Aligning the foot using an insole with proper support in the arch and other areas of the foot can help to keep as much mobility in the foot as possible.
Features to Look For in Insoles:
The insole you choose should have a deep heel cup that helps to position the foot correctly and keeps it aligned.
It should also have the right arch support for your foot. Adaptive arch support will contour to your foot and provide excellent support for the vulnerable parts of your foot.
Overpronators especially will need an insole that prevents the foot from rolling, as this can cause further damage to the foot and toe.
A metatarsal ridge or lift in the forefoot will help to spread the metatarsals and keep the toes naturally splayed. This takes pressure off the forefoot and can alleviate stress on the big toe joint, which may help to reduce the inflammation.