If you feel discomfort when walking, exercising or performing everyday tasks, now might be a good time to consider taking care of your feet with a pair of orthotics. Orthotics are shoe inserts that may provide comfort and relief from foot pain and help prevent future injuries.
According to Dr. Alan Jones, a board-certified podiatrist with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, adding orthotics may help ease symptoms from foot, leg or back problems. You might also consider wearing orthotics to address mechanical pain. This can be due to multiple diagnoses, including flatfeet, high arches, tendonitis or plantar fasciitis.
“Another reason to use orthotics is to improve the comfort of your shoe — whether that is to decrease stress or pressure in a certain area,” Dr. Jones says. “You can also improve poor mechanics during certain activities, such as running or exercising.”
In the past, orthotics had to be custom made. However, now there are multiple brands of affordable and quality over-the-counter orthotics that can work for most people to provide comfort and support.
Over-the-counter insoles are available at your local retail and drug stores. Dr. Jones says this type of insole can be a good option, especially if you are trying out orthotics for the first time.
However, there are numerous benefits to investing in custom orthotics. Custom orthotics are designed exclusively for your feet to address specific issues or a diagnosis. Custom orthotics come into play, Dr. Jones says, when an over-the-counter orthotic isn’t as effective as it could be or if there is a significant foot deformity.
“To get the best out of a custom orthotic, you should be assessed by a qualified professional,” says Dr. Jones. “You may want to try several over-the-counter orthotics to help determine what the custom orthotic prescription should be.”
Sometimes, it's a process of experimentation. The activity and shoe gear involved should also be taken into consideration.
“A good orthotic that fits your foot is never a bad idea,” says Dr. Jones. “At the very least, it is a way of customizing any shoe to your foot for comfort.”
Our feet are not made to walk on hard, flat floors and ground covers all the time, Dr. Jones reports. “We need a good, quality device, whether that be a shoe, orthotic or a combination of both to put between our feet and those surfaces,” he says.