What Are Orthotics?
A foot orthotic can support the arch, encourage even weight distribution and provide more shock absorption.
Typically made of high-tech plastics, they can be full-length in your shoe or shorter (for ease in shoe interchangeability), and can be covered with a variety of materials that will affect cushioning, durability and care requirements. There are many types of orthotics that offer different benefits. Diabetic foot orthotics, for example, will be much softer than those made for long-distance runners.
Who Needs Orthotics?
Both excessive pronation a.k.a. ‘flat feet’ or excessively supinated feet a.k.a ‘high arches’ are the most common problems that foot orthotics may be prescribed for. Pronators will get more arch support from their orthotics, whereas supinators will get more shock absorption from a properly prescribed orthotic.
The next most common group of people that need orthotics are people with knee pain. Your physical therapist may trace the source of knee pain to feet. For example, with excessive pronation the arches of the feet drop lower to the ground, especially when walking, running or squatting. When this happens the leg and knees will turn a bit in, and promote a ‘knock-knee’ position. Over time this will undoubtedly causes uneven cartilage wear and tear to the knee joint and kneecap. Tendinitis, ‘maltracking patella’, and loss of ability to squat or use stairs are some of the examples of a foot problem affecting the knee.
Who Prescribes Orthotics?
Physical therapists, podiatrists and orthotists all make orthotics. Physical therapists however, are specifically trained and licensed in looking at the whole body, and will make the best decisions if orthotics will benefit you.
Do I Need Custom Orthotics?
There are custom made orthotics that run in the $400-$500 range. For complex, painful feet there is nothing like a custom fit. We recommend avoiding ANY provider that uses the ‘stand in a box of foam’ fitting method. Its sole design is to save time and money of the provider, and produces sub-standard ‘custom’ orthotics at professional rates. Thorough foot, ankle, and knee evaluations, plaster casting, and pre and post-orthotic walking and squatting assessments remain the gold standard.