Feet absorb a ton of pressure and shock from hard impacts every time you stand or walk around. Now, they are designed to do this efficiently; however, a little overuse or a biomechanical issue can turn that daily strain on your lower limbs into a problem. Sometimes your feet just need a little extra support and cushioning. That’s where orthotics can help. Custom orthotics—and in some cases, over-the-counter shoe inserts—provide that extra support and protection.
What’s the Difference? Custom vs. Prefabricated
There are two types of supplementary insoles you can slip into your shoes to get extra cushioning or support: custom orthotics, or prefabricated, over-the-counter inserts. These are not the same thing, and they are not interchangeable. They are designed differently and serve different purposes for your lower limbs:
- Custom orthotics – Also known as prescription orthotics, these special insoles are designed for your unique feet. You get them after an experienced podiatrist prescribes them to correct or accommodate an issue in your lower limbs. Typically, they either control abnormal motion that’s causing overuse or injury, or they support and cushion parts of your feet. They are made with high-quality materials and designed to last long term.
- Over-the-counter shoe inserts – The insoles are prefabricated and sold in convenience stores, pharmacies, and other places like them. They are over-the-counter options that are ready to use when you buy them. They provide layers of cushioning and some degree of support. Because they are pre-made and sold in packages, they do not offer a customized fit and cannot correct biomechanical issues. They can, however, help relieve some minor foot pain and soreness. They are made from cheaper materials and tend to wear out after a few months of use.
How Orthotics Support Feet
How your feet strike the ground and push off again—your biomechanics—impacts how your feet function. Your feet are designed to absorb shock and distribute body weight evenly so the whole foot supports you without injury. If your biomechanics are off, your feet aren’t aligned properly, or overuse is affecting your foot function, shock and pressure can strain your lower limbs and cause damage.
Orthotics can change this, preventing and relieving issues that cause foot pain. Whether you need prescription or over-the-counter models, however, depends on your unique needs. The customized, prescription models can control abnormal foot motions. By realigning the foot or adding stability in the right place, your foot functions correctly and can handle pressure and strain better. These insoles can also accommodate your unique foot shape and provide extra padding in specific places or areas where you need it. This makes them an excellent tool for treating plantar fasciitis, tendonitis, and diabetic foot complications.
Prefabricated shoe inserts are a little more limited. They aren’t designed for your unique feet, so they can’t correct biomechanical problems. Instead, they add extra padding for your soles or under your arch. This helps absorb some pressure and hard impacts for you, reducing strain on your feet. This makes them useful for minor issues and soreness, like metatarsalgia, rather than complicated biomechanical problems.
Getting Your Own Prescription Orthotics
If you need custom orthotics, you first need to have your feet examined. Our team at Absolute Foot Care Specialists will evaluate your lower limbs and your biomechanics to determine what your feet need and how to best stabilize or cushion them. Then, your feet will be casted to get an accurate mold of your foot shape. The inserts can then be prescribed and fabricated to meet your needs, whether that’s for work, recreation, or sports.
Orthotics are valuable tools to support your feet so they can better handle pressure or absorb shock. The right pair of orthotics can go a long way in relieving or eliminating pain and improving foot function. The key is to know what your unique feet need for support. Let our team at Absolute Foot Care Specialists in Las Vegas help you determine whether or not you would benefit from orthotics, and what kind you need. Use our website or call (702) 839-2010 to schedule a consultation with our team.