Are there different types of orthotics?
Orthotics and shoe inserts change the impact of pressure created during running and walking on the foot's joints, ligaments, and bones. If you are experiencing chronic lower limb injury such as heel pain, it is essential to have your biomechanics assessed by a Podiatrist or a suitably trained health care practitioner. Biomechanics is the analysis of body movement and how movement and stresses affect the various tissues of the body. A biomechanical assessment leads to a better understanding of how chronic repetitive stress injuries (such achilles tendon pain) occur and also provide indications of how they can be best managed. As a Podiatrist, I recommend orthotics to reduce or modify the high load which is resulting in damage to structures of the lower leg, ankle, or foot. Two common types of orthotics commonly used are are off-the-shelf and custom orthotics.
Off-the-shelf orthotics typically come in small, medium, and large. They are designed for the average foot and provide mild-to-moderate support. In some cases, if the heel pain is minor or new, an off-the-shelf orthotic can be a good starting point and may mildly reduce some of the stress on the plantar fascia. The downside with an off-the-shelf orthotic is that support and correction may be required, such as when a foot does not fit the "average" category. As a Podiatrist, I see feet that fit into this category all the time and all feet are individual. An off-the-shelf orthotic is cheaper than a custom orthotic, however, they do not last as long due to their materials. An off-the-shelf orthotic is also difficult to adjust should you require more support or correction.
A custom orthotic is a prescription orthotic that has been designed following a comprehensive biomechanical assessment and a 3D laser scan or cast of both feet. Custom orthotics allow the podiatrist to design the specific features required to reduce the stress on an injured area. A custom orthotic is manufactured from higher-quality materials and this significantly increases its longevity. Custom orthotics typically last between 4–10 years, so in reality, they can work out cheaper than having to continuously replace an off-the-shelf orthotic that stops providing sufficient support after six months. Custom orthotics also allow for fine-tuning and adjustments, thus ensuring optimal comfort and support.
Please contact us to find out if orthotics could help you get back on your feet pain-free!
Mr James Ferrie
B. Pod. (La Trobe); Mem. A. Pod. A
Principal Practitioner / Founder of My Sports Podiatrist