What Are Orthotics?

Orthotics are inserts that you place inside your shoes in order to better support and cushion your feet, or to readjust the alignment and biomechanics of your feet as you stand and walk. You might have seen mass-produced orthotics in the store or even advertised on TV, but they can be much more than that. At our office, we use both prefabricated and custom orthotics extensively to treat a wide variety of painful foot and ankle conditions effectively.

If you want a useful analogy, think about glasses and contacts. On their own, your eyes might not be able to bring objects into sharp focus. Things are blurrier than they should be, and your quality of life suffers. But when you put on your corrective eyewear, they give your eyes what they need to do their job correctly.

Orthotics are like that, except for the feet. On their own, the structural or gait problems with your feet may be painful and frustrating to deal with. But the right pair of orthotics can relieve pressure and adjust posture and alignment issues to get your feet working the way they should.

What Conditions Can Orthotics Treat?

Orthotics are extremely versatile tools. They can come in many different shapes and sizes. They can be made from a wide variety of materials, from soft silicone to semi-rigid graphite and hard plastic. While you can’t expect that picking a random insert off the shelf will fix your ailment, choosing the right pair of orthotics for your feet and condition can.

Prefabricated or Custom Orthotics

Prefabricated Orthotics

Prefabricated or non-prescription orthotics are what you find in the store. They’re pumped out of the factory in several common foot styles and configurations, so that means they will only be able to fit your feet approximately. However, they are very affordable, with even the most expensive pairs usually running less than $50.

Custom Orthotics

By contrast, custom orthotics are specially made to fit a unique set of feet. At our office, we use non-weight-bearing 3D scanning technology to get precise measurements of your foot structure in the optimal biomechanical precision.

As you can imagine, these are typically more expensive than prefabricated orthotics. However, because they offer the best possible fit and can be made from more semi-rigid materials, they can do a lot more. Rather than simply adding cushioning, a functional custom orthotic can actually fix the underlying alignment or gait abnormality when you wear them, rather than simply accommodating it. Custom orthotics also tend to last much longer and can often be repaired or adjusted instead of discarded, making them a good value long-term.

What Kinds of Custom Orthotics Do You Provide?

Our philosophy is that your orthotics should fit your lifestyle. You shouldn’t have to adjust your lifestyle to accommodate a bulky pair of plastic inserts. We recommend orthotics made of graphite for the followng reasons:

  • Graphite is soft and flexible enough to be comfortable to wear, but rigid enough to maintain a biomechanically correct alignment of the feet and ankles.
  • It’s extremely light and thin, so it should slip into almost any type or style of shoe you wear comfortably.
  • It’s durable and easy to adjust, meaning most people can get several years of use out of their orthotics before they need to be replaced.

What About Orthotics for Children?

One of the main advantages of custom orthotics for adults is that they can last for years. That’s not true for children, though, since their feet are still growing. Fitting kids for new pairs of custom orthotics multiple times per year can quickly get expensive and frustrating.

When it comes to pain and gait problems for children, we instead use a combination of premade orthotics and bracing until their feet are big enough and have stopped growing so quickly. This can provide effective results at significantly lower cost and anxiety for parents and families.

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