Orthotics. The 101

orthotics

Should we get a pair of orthotics? No, we shouldn't really get them "just because".

The problem comes is that, if you have a foot problem or condition that requires some sort of foot device then you should see a qualified professional (Chiropodist/ Podiatrist) to help you diagnose the problem and then figure out the best method for treatment.

The 6 issues with orthotics

Orthotics are usually the last resort

because:

1- they are expensive, especially if you have no insurance. A really good pair of running shoes can have the basic benefit.

2- inserting something into your shoe to move your foot into a different position, can hurt your foot and cause short term, and even long term, damage.

3- anything given without advice is dangerous. Orthotics given without proper stretching of muscles can be dangerous

4- the majority of the time a change in footwear, stretching exercises and various muscle cooling techniques can reduce the need for any device. You tend to find that the vast majority of patients experience a high rate of resolution of symptoms with just those techniques.

5- having orthotics is not just a "norm". We had one patient who came to our clinic and asked for an orthotic because their insurance allowed them to have 1 pair a year. That is no reason to get anything.

6- If you have no pain and no symptoms then having a device in your shoe is not going to do anything.

Insoles or orthotics?

An orthotic is a manufactured biomechanically adjusting device that moves your foot into a neutral position (the position that your foot should be in for itself to be normal). They are usually manufactured by either the health professional or sent off to a company.

All insurance companies require that an orthotic is manufactured and not bought off the shelf for you to receive the cost back. On top of that they require a certain qualified health professional to issue:

1- why you need an orthotic,

2- what they found when they assessed you and

3- how the orthotic was created.

Off the shelf devices are not really classed as a custom made orthotic

- especially in insurance company eyes.

insoles

In my opinion, an insole is something that slips into your shoe to make a situation better without seriously affecting your biomechanics or being manufactured.

For example, Langer, are used by medical professionals to supply them with orthotics that are made to a prescription and can be adjusted to the patient's needs. Where as Dr Scholls Footcare can be accessed by the general public in various department stores (like the picture above, from Dr Scholl).

Usually though. If you have a problem or a concern then it is always wise to see a Chiropodist/ Podiatrist to check your feet over.

Your orthotic resources

The best running shoes?

What causes foot pain?

Childrens Orthotics

Rather than an orthotic, I might just need a cheap insole

A huge choice, so which orthotics do I use?

What is a custom orthotic

Do I need to change my shoes to fit my new shoe device?

How are custom orthotics made?

Here are just some of the most common companies that deal with prosthesis, various shoe devices and "over the counter" products:

Capital Orthotic Center

Cascade

Dr Scolls Foot Products

EC

Hanger

JSB

Powerstep

Solefit

Spenco

Truform

Walkfit