January 22, 2019
Hand holding magnet
Ask the Experts

Do Magnetic Insoles Ease Foot Pain?

by Berkeley Wellness  

Q: Do magnetic insoles ease foot pain?

A: Don’t count on them. In fact, there’s good science showing they don’t work. Magnets produce electromagnetic fields that are able to penetrate the body. It’s claimed that this alters nervous system functioning, boosts blood flow to tissue, and has other possible pain-relieving effects.

But in a large study at the Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2003, magnetic insoles did not relieve heel pain any better than a placebo (nonmagnetic “sham” insoles). After eight weeks, one-third of the participants wearing the magnets reported improvement—but so too did one-third of the placebo group.

Another study by the same researchers, published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings in 2005, similarly concluded that magnetic insoles “were not clinically effective” in people with chronic nonspecific foot pain in the workplace, though they had a moderate placebo effect in those who believed most in the potential of the magnets.

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, studies on magnets have been mixed and overall do not support their use for pain relief. Any apparent benefit is likely due to symptoms simply resolving on their own or to a placebo effect. For more on magnet therapy, see Magnet Therapy Attracts Attention.