The truth about orthotics: Prefab, custom, and mail order
You’ve seen them in drugstores, running stores and even Costco. They come in all kinds of varieties and prices. They can be made in different ways and from different materials. This includes: readymade, mail order, customizable prefabs, scanning, bio foam impressions and plaster casts.
Help? How do I sort this all out?
This article will help you sort it all out and answer frequently asked question:
- Can an orthotic change or train the shape of my feet?
- How do I know which orthotic is best for my feet?
- How do I know if an orthotic will help my feet feel better?
- How do I know that an orthotic is worth the money?
What is an orthotic?
An orthotic is a device worn in shoes. The goal of wearing the device is to make your feet feel more comfortable.
How does an orthotic work?
An orthotic works by maintaining your foot in a 90° position. Have someone take a picture of your feet from the back. You may be surprised at what your see.
When the bones of your feet (there are 26) are misaligned your feet may pronate (turn in towards the big toe), or supinate (turn outwards towards the little toe). Just like a car that doesn’t drive straight when the wheels are misaligned, your body becomes misaligned when your feet are not biomechanically aligned.
Misalignment of your feet can cause knee, shoulder or hip pain. Other symptoms of misalignment are flat feet, heel pain, bunions, and neuromas and hammer toes. Or difficulty walking and maintaining balance.
Orthotics also provide extra cushioning for runners, those who work on their feet all day and individuals suffering from recurring calluses due to fat pad atrophy.
Can an orthotic change or train the shape of my feet?
No. An orthotic will only make your feet feel more comfortable when you wear them.
How do I know which orthotic is best for my feet?
The orthotic you wear depends on three factors:
- The condition of your feet. Sometimes you can self-assess (remember the picture) and if you have pain that stops you from normal activities or gets worse you need an evaluation by a podiatrist specializing in biomechanics.
- Your activities. Are you a leisurely walker or marathon runner? Do you love to dance in heels or mountain climb? Do you sit at a desk or stand on your feet all day at your job?
Your orthotics have to be appropriate for the activities you typically engage in.
- Your shoes. The biggest reason orthotics fail is because they do not fit into the shoes you love to wear. You don’t need to wear clunky, orthopedic style shoes with orthotics, but you do need the correct orthotic to match your shoes. Some orthotics work for flats and dress shoes others for hiking boots and sneakers.
How do I know if an orthotic will help my feet feel better?
How do I know that an orthotic is worth the money?
Which orthotic should I choose? There are so many out there.
Orthotics typically cost between $30.00 and $1000.00. That price range in itself is dizzying.
Our recommendation is to first try a podiatrist, APMA approved orthotic. Pedicurian offers orthotics for runners, dress shoes, cold weather and boots. Avoid plastic devices or online versions that can quickly lose their shape. If your 80-100% better with a ready made orthotic great. If you are only somewhat better you may need a more precise medical grade prefab orthotic or custom orthotic.
The efficacy of custom orthotics made from customizing prefab orthotics, scans and bio foam impressions are not supported by medical studies. Our recommendation: Don’t waste your money.
The most accurate custom orthotic is made by a podiatrist from a non-weight bearing plaster cast of your foot. That means you are lying on your stomach when the cast is made. It can be made to fit shoes you typically wear.Pedicurian Keeps You Moving.