Health & Fitness

An Introductory Guide to Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are more than your average shoe inserts. A shoe insert that you can find in a pharmacy aisle will add cushioning and support to your shoes, but it will be for a general audience — it’s not designed with your feet in mind.

Orthotic inserts are prescription devices that are specifically designed to help you with biomechanical and medical issues. They will take your weight, height and medical history into account. They will also be based on molds of your feet, so the fit is perfect.

The top reason why you would need custom inserts is for pain mitigation for a medical condition. The design allows for feet to feel supported and cushioned while standing, walking and exercising. Anyone who is suffering from sore, swollen or irritated feet will appreciate the relief that they offer.

Someone living with a medical condition like heel spurs could really benefit from specialized orthotics. Symptoms of heel spurs are inflammation of the Achilles tendon, heel pain and tenderness when stretching the foot. These symptoms make it challenging for someone to walk barefoot on hard surfaces like wood floors.

In addition to anti-inflammatory medications, custom heel spur orthotics will drastically reduce any irritation and pain for anyone who wants to go about their day. If you want to get the right fit, you can go to a foot clinic and talk to a chiropodist about your options.

Another medical condition that can use custom orthotics to mitigate foot pain is peripheral neuropathy caused by long-standing diabetes. The symptoms range from numbness, tingling, burning and pain in the feet and legs. One of the best ways to treat the condition and reduce the severity of the symptoms is to wear comfortable footwear.

The second most popular reason to use custom orthotics is for correcting gait — this means fixing the way that you walk and run. With the wrong pair of shoes, you could be distributing weight on your feet incorrectly, either putting too much pressure on the outer edges or the inner edges of your feet.

Adding in specialized inserts could give you the right arch support and padding to encourage neutral pronation or neutral supination. Neutral pronation means that your foot doesn’t lean too far inward and neutral supination means that your foot doesn’t lean too far outward when you walk or run. The weight is distributed evenly with each step.

Gait correction will be especially important for athletes like runners, joggers and speed-walkers because it limits the chances of getting hurt during a workout. Some of the most common running injuries such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints and Iliotibial Band Syndrome can be attributed to gait problems and poor footwear. If you don’t want to ruin your training regimen for a marathon or your weekly workouts, you should consider incorporating orthotics into your fitness plan.

When your foot feels sore or uncomfortable, your first solution shouldn’t be a store-bought shoe insert. You should see a chiropodist to see if your feelings are related to a medical condition or injury. The chiropodist can then determine if custom orthotics are right for you. These are the right steps to solving your foot problems for the long-term.