Orthotics (also known as orthotic insoles, shoe inserts, or orthoses) are devices placed inside the shoes with the purpose of restoring our natural foot function. This is necessary when the natural biomechanical balance of our lower body has been disrupted by over-pronation. Many common complaints such as heel pain, knee pain and lower back pain are caused by poor foot biomechanics. Orthotic insoles correct over-pronation and realign the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, restoring natural foot function. In turn, this will help alleviate problems not only in the feet, but also in other parts of the body, such as the knees, hips, and lower back.
On of five adults in North America has a functional lesion of lower extremities. Poor quality footwear, bare-foot walking at home, lack of physical activity and exercises and, finally, inherited predisposition are leading to weakening of ligaments that hold the foot bones together and to muscular weakening which result in foot arches collapsing also known as functional flat feet.
The danger of functional flat feet includes but not limited to higher chances of injuries, osteoarthritis, cartilage damage in the young age, chronic pain of the legs and lower back. Due to misalignment of the feet the pathologic rotation of entire lower extremities may occur, which risks to cause the knee, hip and sacro-ileac joints to get inflamed. The traditional medicamentous and/or physiotherapeutic treatment would not solve this problem, because the bones shifting is a result of the body trying to compensate the wrong position of the feet.
The feet – are the foundation of our body. If the foundation of a building is crooked – the building will tumble down.
So, you have found the professional who suggested you to get custom made corrective insoles, made out of you feet’s mold. But apparently, it’s quite expensive. So, is there a reason to spend serious amount of money for two shaped pieces of plastic? Yes, there is. Here is why.
Custom made corrective insoles, or ORTHOTICS – is a medical device intended to be placed inside the footwear. Orthotics support the feet in the optimal position, reduce the risks of injury, alleviate the pain and prevent further disorders caused by numerous lesions. Orthotics are supposed to be made according to professional prescriptions based on the patient’s individual needs and biomechanical specificity.
People of any age and occupation may need orthotics. The people with problems of lower limbs and lower back are using orthotics to alleviate their pain and to maintain mobility. The athletes are using orthotics to ameliorate their results and reduse the risks of injury. The teachers, lecturers, construction, maintenance and general workers – anybody whose job involves a lot of walking and standing are using orthotics to reduce pain and fatigue.
Orthotics are used to treat and prevent numerous foot problems: plantar fasciitis (heel spur). hallux valgus (bunions), flat feet, high arches etc. Orthotics help to prevent lower limbs joints disorders and reduce the risks of osteoarthritis. By holding the feet in the appropriate position, they help to heal the inflamed ligaments and tendons, reduce risks of repetitive dislocations. Often, the orthotics may help to stop taking medications and even to prevent a surgery. Also, orthotics help to correct anatomical leg discrepancy – one of the frequent causes of pain in lower back, hips and knees.
The individual custom-made orthotics production requires a lot of time of highly qualified professionals as well as expensive materials and equipment, that’s why orthotics can not be cheap. If somebody offers you a “deal” 2 times cheaper than average price – make sure you are not about to pay few hundred dollars for something you can get from Walmart for 20 bucks.
1) They must support the feet in so-called NEUTRAL position providing the equal distribution of pressure on the joints and bones of the feet. The foot placed on the properly made orthotic is not supposed to tilt neither inside nor outside.
2) Orthotics must be made of springy material in order to let the foot to function properly, since the foot is serving as a springy shock-absorber at every moment of impact (step, jump etc.) The resilience of material must be selected individually, depending on the person’s weight and expected force of impacts (the orthotics for high-heel dress shoes must be very different from ones for basketball playing.) Ask the professional you visit to demonstrate you the resilience of material using the samples.
3) Any shoes (except specially made orthopedic shoes) have the built-in arch support. The appropriately made orthotic must have a hollow under the arch support. This will allow the orthotic to maintain the horizontal position while placed inside the shoe despite the built-in arch support. The orthotic that doesn’t have such a hollow will be tilted inside the shoe, this will increase the angle of correction and excessive correction is harmful and dangerous.
4) Custom made orthotics must be made of most precise possible mold of the foot, while the foot is held in CORRECTED position. The best type of molding – is the wax molding that allows controlling the foot position during the entire process of molding.
5) Last but not least, properly made orthotics are not supposed to hurt. If after 2 weeks of wearing they are still not comfortable – they are not made properly.
As you already know, the standardized ready made insoles with additional arch supports are available over counter at the big pharmacies. The chances that they will considerably help are minimal, but, who knows, may be your case – is a rare but happy exception.
If you can afford the custom made orthotics and decided to go for it – watch the following details:
1) “Eyeballing” is not acceptable in real orthopedic correction. Unfortunately, there are dishonest “professionals” who unwarrantably simplify the manufacturing process or even cheat their clients: they take the mold, but never use it and make the insoles out of averaged prefabricated shells. If you want to make sure that your orthotics will be indeed made out of your molds – ask to provide you with positive casts (usually made of plaster of Paris) which are being disposed anyway. If there is a problem with such an ingenuous request – most probably, you are about to get not something you are about to pay for.
2) Properly made orthotics are not supposed to be hard. The hard orthotics may support the feet in right position, but will prevent the foot from functioning as a shock-absorber.
3) The “dry foam” is not supposed to be used as a molding material for high quality custom made orthotics, even though it does not require special training and saves a time.
While making a “dry foam” mold, the foot can not be appropriately controlled, because there is no access to the foot from the bottom. As a result, the compensatory and corrective function of orthotics is being badly compromised. Also, the dry foam is very porous and fragile and the positive casts made out of it always require “tweaking” by applying the extra plaster to fill up the traces of pores and cracks. This cases even more lose of precision and consecutively the orthotics made with “dry foam” molding will only rough imitation of what they are supposed to be.
4) The molding must not be limited by computerized imprint of the foot. This is very impressive process, but it replaces only the flat imprint – podography, which demonstrates distribution of the pressure on the foot. In order to get a real high quality orthotics, the 3-dimention mold must be made by the hands of qualified clinician, and not by the computer which is unable to recognize the structure of the foot surface, to palpate and correct it, even though it scans with laser.
5) Try to find out what is the level of expertise of the professional you are visiting, as well as his reputation and qualification in the treatment of musculo-skeletal problems.
First Pair - $ 450
Second Pair - $ 300