You’ve probably seen supportive inserts for sale at your local drug store. Maybe you’ve even tired some before. They may have made your feet feel a little better than a standard shoe. Still, no two human bodies are exactly alike, which is where the over-the-counter insert falls short.
That’s why custom orthotics are an essential solution for many patients with foot problems. At MOTUS, our team of physical therapists can perform an orthotic evaluation that will provide you with orthotic inserts perfect for your feet, your body, and your needs.
What are custom orthotics?
Custom orthotics are like insoles that are made specifically for your feet. The difference between a store-bought insert and a custom orthotic is like the difference between generic reading glasses and prescription lenses. Although custom orthotics affect the motion and support of the foot, the adjustments they can make might help with many other parts of the body, like hips, knees, or back.
There are two main types of custom orthotics. Functional orthotics will adjust the motion of your movements. These might be used to treat shin splints or pain coming from abnormal movements. Functional orthotics are made with a stiffer material, like plastic or carbon fiber.
Alternatively, accommodative orthotics are made with soft, compression materials that can provide support for the joints. These are good for treating conditions like arthritis or diabetes.
How do they work?
If you look at a baby’s feet, you’ll notice that the toes are splayed wide, creating broad support that helps them find their balance. That design is how our feet are meant to work. Correct Toes restore the feet to maximum balance, stability, and strength by holding the toes in a splayed position. When worn regularly, Correct Toes will progressively adjust the foot’s architecture, and the muscles follow suit and adapt to the adjustment. Correct Toes are great to wear during a workout, either barefoot or with healthy footwear. They are the only toe spacers designed to be worn during weight-bearing activities. Wearing Correct Toes during periods of rest is helpful, but using them while you’re active goes a long way. Your body’s habits, movements, and postures are easily trained by the repetitive motion that comes in a workout. With Correct Toes on during a workout, your feet will move the way they were meant to, which will help you build strength for consistently healthy movement in the future. To get the greatest benefits from Correct Toes, you’ll need to leave your poor fitting shoes behind in favor of a pair designed for the natural, wide stance of the foot.
Many people spend their entire lives wearing shoes that are bad for their feet. In fact, a study from 2005 showed that incorrectly fitting footwear is extremely common in people ages 62 and older, and a main cause of foot pain.
What are the benefits of custom orthotics?
Custom orthotics can help you feel comfortable while you stand, walk, or run. Their superior design is built for you specifically, so you get the best possible support. In this way, they can significantly reduce pain in the foot or ankle, or in other areas affected by foot posture.
Having the right orthotics for your feet can also enhance your balance, so you’ll feel more confident and comfortable. This helps keep your body aligned and prevents overcompensation from other areas of the body.
Support from orthotics can not only address a current injury, but will help prevent future injuries. If your physical therapist decides that you could benefit from custom orthotics, the inserts may provide you with the adjustments you need to your movement and balance to prevent things like ankle sprains, knee pain, or back strains.
This type of support can be impactful for athletes, as well. Many sports injuries are the result of biomechanical deficits. Custom orthotics can help correct these, allowing an athlete to make safer, more controlled movements in their activity
Are custom orthotics right for me?
Foot problems can stem from a number of different conditions, many of which can directly benefit from custom orthotics.
One example is plantar fasciitis, a painful condition where the tissue connecting the heel to the toes becomes inflamed. This is often the result of a repetitive strain injury from running or walking with poor foot support. Last year, a clinical study found that both custom orthotics and shockwave therapy were effective tools for reducing pain and enhancing functionality for patients with plantar fasciitis.*
Metatarsalgia and arthritis are both treatable with accommodative orthotics, which can provide support for painful joints. Orthotics are also helpful for patients with diabetes, who need to take special care of their feet. Customized support can help reduce foot problems from diabetes.
Orthotics may be an effective treatment for other conditions as well, like shin splints, bunions, and achilles tendonitis. They’re effective not only for foot-specific pain, but for pain that is caused by poor support.
For example, in 2017 a group published a study that looked at whether shoe orthotics could treat lower back pain. They divided their subjects into three groups — one with no treatment, one with orthotics, and one with orthotics and chiropractic therapy. Both groups with orthotics showed the most significant increase in functionality and a reduction of lower back pain.
If you’re a resident in the Orange County area that’s dealing with any of the above, we suggest setting up an appointment at MOTUS to discuss getting custom orthotics.
1. Sibel Çağlar Okur and Abdulkadir Aydın – Comparison of extracorporeal shock wave therapy with custom foot orthotics in plantar fasciitis treatment: A prospective randomized one-year follow-up study
2. Jerrilyn A.CambronDC, MPH, PhDa et al – Shoe Orthotics for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial