Heel Lifts: Enhancing Comfort and Mobility

May 2, 2024

heel lift and pain point graphicsHeel lifts, also known as shoe lifts or heel inserts, are specialized devices designed to elevate the heel. They are used in both medical and non-medical contexts to address various physical conditions and improve comfort. In healthcare, heel lifts serve as an important tool for managing a range of musculoskeletal issues. 

What Are Heel Lifts?

Heel lifts are small, wedge-shaped inserts made from materials such as foam, gel, or plastic. They are placed inside the shoe to raise the heel, effectively altering the angle and elevation of the foot. By elevating the heel, these inserts can help redistribute pressure across the foot, alter gait patterns, and correct discrepancies in leg length.  

Medical Applications of Heel Lifts

Heel lifts play a critical role in helping treat and manage a variety of musculoskeletal conditions. Some common conditions for which heel lifts are used include leg length discrepancy, pelvic obliquity, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.  

  • Leg Length Discrepancy (LLD) occurs when one leg is shorter than the other, which can lead to imbalances and alignment issues throughout the body. LLD can arise from congenital conditions, injuries, or surgical outcomes. Orthotic devices, such as walking boots, may also cause LLD, as they often elevate the affected foot more than the other. Heel lifts can compensate for the difference in leg length, helping to realign the pelvis and spine, and reduce compensatory adjustments in gait that might lead to pain or injury. 
  • Pelvic Obliquity involves an asymmetry in the tilting of the pelvis, often due to uneven leg lengths or abnormal muscle tone. It is typically caused by conditions like scoliosis, hip dysplasia, or muscle imbalances. Heel lifts can be used to correct the uneven pelvic tilt by compensating for the shorter leg, thereby improving posture and reducing strain on the lower back and hips. 
  • Achilles Tendonitis involves inflammation of the Achilles tendon, typically due to overuse. Frequent running or jumping, improper footwear, or a sudden increase in activity level can lead to this inflammation. Elevating the heel decreases tension in the Achilles tendon, providing relief and allowing for healing. 
  • Plantar Fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain and involves inflammation of the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue that runs across the bottom of the foot. By lifting the heel, heel lifts reduce the load and stress on the plantar fascia, alleviating pain and aiding recovery.

Best Practices for Using Heel Lifts

Heel lifts can be beneficial for individuals with specific foot and leg issues. However, they must be used properly to avoid exacerbating existing conditions or developing new ones. Below are some general best practices to keep in mind when using heel lifts.  

  • Consultation with a Professional: Before using heel lifts, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare provider, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist, to ensure they are appropriate for your specific condition.
  • Proper Sizing and Adjustment: Heel lifts should fit the shoes properly and comfortably. Ill-fitting lifts can lead to new issues or worsen existing conditions. Start with a lower height and gradually increase as advised by a healthcare professional to allow the body to adapt without discomfort.
  • Regular Monitoring: Regular follow-ups with a healthcare provider are necessary to monitor progress and make adjustments to the treatment plan. Be aware of any new pain or discomfort, as adjustments might be necessary.
  • Integration with Other Treatments: Heel lifts are often used in conjunction with other therapies such as physical therapy, stretching exercises, or even custom orthotics.

Can Heel Lifts Help Improve Posture?

Heel lifts can positively impact posture by helping to align the body more effectively. By addressing leg length discrepancies or correcting certain foot conditions, they can promote better spinal alignment and reduce strain on muscles throughout the body. However, for optimal results, it is important to combine the use of heel lifts with proper strength training exercises and postural awareness.  

Heel lifts are a simple yet highly effective tool for addressing various medical conditions, helping reduce pain, and promoting better alignment and gait. Always consult with healthcare professionals to ensure these devices are used appropriately and effectively tailored to your specific needs. As part of a comprehensive treatment plan, heel lifts can significantly enhance quality of life and facilitate recovery from a range of musculoskeletal issues. 

Want to learn more? Explore our additional resources on orthotic solutions and related conditions:  


AliMed, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of medical supply products, and is not a medical authority. The contents contained in this article, including text, graphics, imagery, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. AliMed does not provide or intend to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and the information contained here should not be treated as such. If you have questions about a specific medical condition or specific personal use of a medical device, always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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