What to look for in custom orthotics - and the process.
Custom orthotics are inserts for the shoes that are designed with your exact foot in mind. These are made with the purpose of helping to bring the ground up to your foot appropriately and minimize compensation that occurs in the joints of the feet and even farther up the limb - which prevents future injury and pain.
The term "custom orthotics" has been used too loosely in some settings. At some offices, you may step in a foam box or walk across a digital pad and while this does capture the shape of your foot to some extent, it can make for an orthotic that simply mimics what you foot is already doing to compensate for joints that are misaligned or for muscles that are too weak or too tight.
When it comes to custom orthotics, whether you choose to purchase them out-of-pocket or are fortunate enough that your insurance plan covers their cost, they are a big investment. Seeing an expert to have your custom orthotics casted and fitted for is to your benefit to ensure an orthotic that feels good and (most importantly) does its job to protect your feet from injury.
There are a few very important things to consider with orthotics:
1. The Process: Orthotics are much more complicated than making an insert from a scan or impression of the foot. When investing in custom orthotics, you should be sure you are working with a well trained staff member and podiatrist. We assess your range of motion through a biomechanical exam. They should also perform an assessment of your feet in a standing position and also while walking. This ensures that there is a thorough understanding of your function and identifies areas that the orthotic needs to address. This is what helps to identify which part of the foot needs a given modification. The gold standard for obtaining an impression of the foot for a custom orthotic is to have a non-weightbearing plaster cast made from both of your feet. This allows the doctor or their staff to position the foot in its optimal, uncompensated position so that when the orthotic is made, it is made to help your foot to conform to a better version of itself.
2. The Material: All too often we see an old (or sadly sometimes even new) pair of orthotics that was obtained from another office that is made of flexible material. In order to adequately control the foot, the material needs to hold up to the pressures presented when weightbearing. If your orthotic can be rolled into a ball, what does that say about its integrity when you are standing, walking or running? While more rigid materials may seem at the surface to be uncomfortable, if the fit is right, the orthotic will not be painful. Additionally, there are multiple options for topcovers, which can add some cushion for orthotics that will be used for high impact activities to add shock absorption.
3. The Device: Custom orthotics should provide more customization than just arch support. The investment you make needs to work for you. Never settle for a device that looks like it came from the drugstore. The arch of a device is important, but the heel cup and posting also play very important roles. Posting on an orthotic means that either the heel or front of the foot has wedges that balance the foot. The heel cup is the portion of the orthotic that cups the heel. If the heel of an orthotic is flat, it is not able to control the motion of the heel bone, which is where a lot of compensation can stem from.
Don't trust your feet and orthotics to just anyone! Come see the experts! With years of experience, our doctors knows the in's and out's of orthotics and knows how to make a pair of orthotics that you won't believe you ever did without!
Contact us today if you think you need orthotics or have foot pain! We can get you in to see a doctor quickly and will give you all of the information and resources you need to have happy, pain-free feet!