What Are Foot Orthotics?
Foot orthotics are a tool frequently used by Physical Therapists to assist clients who are experiencing foot pain and/or discomfort further up the body – including the ankles, shin bones, knees and hips – that have likely been caused by either an injury or deformities that have developed within the feet.
Also referred to as shoe inserts or arch supports, foot orthotics are commonly constructed from materials such as plastic fiber, carbon fiber, foam, or Ethyl Vinyl Acetate.
The material used depends on whether a rigid or a softer and more accommodative form of support is required, which in turn is determined by what specific issue you and your physical therapist are trying to remedy.
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Foot Orthotics Are Custom-Made for Your Feet
Unlike the shoe inserts that you can buy at a typical shoe or sports shop, foot orthotics are custom-made to fit you and only you.
Getting foot orthotics custom-made tends to be a multi-step process, including undergoing an initial and thorough foot examination with your Physical Therapist, having a dynamic and static reading of your foot mechanics, as well as the fitting of your orthotics into your shoes once they have been manufactured.
Rigid Or Soft Orthotics?
Whether you are recommended rigid or soft orthotics depends on where your pain is being experienced, as well as what your physical therapist believes is the primary cause of your pain.
Among many remedial options, foot orthotics can lift a foot arch, relieve heel pain, or compensate for deformities within the toes.
Rigid orthotics tend to be prescribed for easing foot aches and strains. They may also be used to counteract pain felt within the lower legs, knees, thighs and lower back.
Meanwhile, soft orthotics help to take the pressure off an uncomfortable or vulnerable area on the bottom of the foot (e.g., around a diabetic ulcer) or conditions such as plantar fasciitis.
Soft orthotics can provide welcome cushioning and, depending on how padding is needed, may also require prescription footwear to successfully accommodate them.
Doesn’t Custom-Made Mean More Money?
Unfortunately, yes, it is inevitable that anything that has to be tailor-made and from scratch will cost more than a generic, one-size-fits-all equivalent.
Prices for custom-made foot orthotics vary widely depending on who you consult on your pain, who is commissioned to make the foot orthotics for you, what you specifically require from those orthotics, and what materials they need to be constructed from, as well as other factors such as your location and what is covered by your local health service and/or health insurance(s).
Within the US, for custom-made foot orthotics to be both made and fitted for you, it is wise to allow for an expense ranging from $200 and up to $800 USD.
While figures such as these may prove slightly disheartening, be aware that you are paying for a professional medical service and that, similar to investing in good shoes, your foot orthotics will pay for themselves over and over again.
Much like the famous phrase once uttered by Sir Henry Royce - one of the co-founders of Rolls-Royce - who said, “The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten,” the same can be said for custom-made foot orthotics: they make a notable difference to your pain as soon as you try them out.
“The quality will remain long after the price is forgotten.”- Sir Henry Royce
In being shaped exactly to the size and contours of your feet, custom-made orthotics provide support precisely where it is needed.
While standard shoe insoles can improve general comfort in a pair of your shoes, it is highly unlikely that they can compete with custom-made orthotics if a structural issue within your body is the root cause of your pain.
In fact, adding standard insoles can increase the pain you’re experiencing rather than resolving it!
If you are experiencing significant pain, we recommend consulting a Physical Therapist for an initial consultation before committing to the expense of foot orthotics.
By first obtaining professional advice, you can be sure that your custom-made orthotics are going to prove themselves a worthwhile investment rather than a wasteful financial sting.
Foot Orthotics – A Structurally Aligned Foundation For Your Whole Body
Try thinking of foot orthotics as a tool that leads to a structurally-aligned foundation for your whole body.
Much like a foundation of a building, remember that what is happening at foot level affects everything above it.
If you have a proper and steady foundation, chances are things up top are going to be doing far better for it.
In fact, being in a position to require foot orthotics really emphasizes the sheer load and work that our feet do for us on a day-to-day basis.
When you are standing, your whole bodyweight must be supported by your feet.
More impressively, this also remains true as you walk, jump and generally move around with all weight held in place at the base as we twist and turn trough our daily lives.
You’ll quickly miss the effective support provided by your feet if something goes wrong.
Furthermore, if your feet can’t do their job properly and you find yourself either limping or adjusting the way you move in an attempt to avoid foot pain, it is generally only a matter of time before you end up with unexpected pains showing up elsewhere elsewhere.
This may be because your ankle suddenly has to take more of the strain than is normal or previously unnoticed ligaments begin to complain under their increased load.
If the situation goes unremedied, in time you may also detect unwelcome aches in the knees, hips or lower back as the lack of foundational support causes more and more issues above.
The Remedial Value of Foot Orthotics
By returning proper alignment within the feet, custom-made orthotics quickly relieve the strain that may have spread upwards into the rest of your body.
Although walking with the orthotics may feel rather strange at the start, bt following the "build-up" plan for daily use to adjust to the sensation, it's entirely possible that within a matter of hours, or certainly within a few days, you will notice a significant improvement when it comes to your foot aches and pains.
This is because, with the orthotics in place, you will now be walking in a manner that your body is designed for and prefers.
Depending on the exact cause of your pain, you may find that only a short period of wearing your custom-made orthotics is necessary to remedy the issue for good.
Sometimes all that is needed is a temporary adjustment, allowing for rest and recovery before the body can realign and get back to functioning normally. Orthotics allow you that opportunity.
For other conditions, such as a diabetic foot ulcer, which may be both uncomfortable and highly prone to exacerbation, custom-made orthotics provide a form of relief and protection, allowing a degree of normal movement to return to your day-to-day activities.
Again, the orthotics may provide the welcome break that is needed for an underfoot injury to be able to fully resolve itself.
Consult Your Physical Therapist for Expert Guidance on Foot Orthotics
Foot problems and how custom-made orthotics can remedy a variety of foot-related and structural issues are highly complex subject areas.
Although foot orthotics come highly recommended from the majority of foot experts, they aren't always the "magic fix" for all of your pain.
This is why it is very helpful to consult with a Physical Therapist before opting for foot orthotics as your preferred form of treatment for foot and body pain. A Physical Therapist can determine if this is the most effective strategy for you as well as monitoring progress once you’re up and about on the orthotics themselves.
Custom foot orthotics are a wonderful alternative to surgery or long-term pain, but it pays to pair up with a Physical Therapist to ensure you’re getting it right and resolving your pain as quickly and effectively as possible.
When you walk through the door of any Cardin & Miller clinic, you’ll be welcomed by one of our incredibly friendly, highly experienced (and highly trained) physical therapy team who will help figure out what’s really going on with your foot and address the root cause of your foot pain.
They will also be able to help determine if custom foot orthotics are right for you.
Once we’ve got the ball rolling, we will make sure that your foot problem is healed properly, and correctly, and then give you a set of exercises perfectly designed for your injury that will speed up the process of your recovery.
We can help get rid of the need for those addictive painkillers by taking the physical therapy option, and also help avoid dangerous foot surgery or painful injections.
Basically, we can help keep you out of the doctor’s surgery and back to enjoying what you need, love, and want to do!
Want to improve your ability to walk more and be more active and pain-free? Contact us today. We’re here to help.