If you are considering purchasing a pair of foot inserts, take a look at these commonly asked questions.

Do you need orthotics?

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 Most of us have seen commercials and advertisements for shoe inserts, or seen them at the local drug or sporting goods store. They can be made of gel or cushion, come in all shapes and sizes and do many different things for those with a variety of foot and joint conditions. Orthotics, though, range from what you may find in the store, to custom-made inserts. If you are considering purchasing a pair, take a look at these commonly asked questions:

Who should consider orthotics?

  • People who stand or walk on hard surfaces for considerable amounts of time each day
  • Individuals who regularly participate in high impact sports (running, jumping)
  • People with previous foot or leg injuries
  • Individuals with joint pain when walking, running or standing

What are the different types of orthotics?

  • Over-the-counter (off-the-shelf): mass-produced intended for general use and available at pharmacies, sporting goods store, and shoe stores
  • Customized: pre-fabricated insoles that are adaptable with addition of wedges, arch supports, etc.
  • Custom-made: castings, computer-assisted analysis, or professional evaluations are used to assist fabrication of orthotic device

What kinds of medical conditions would orthotics help alleviate?

  • Painful feet-especially in the morning with first steps or prolonged walking
  • Arthritis
  • Knee/hip/back pain not responding to traditional treatment
  • Shin splints
  • Foot/ankle pain (Achilles tendinitis/plantar fasciitis/metatarsalgia)

What are the biggest benefits of orthotics?

  • Ensure correct positioning of bones in feet, ankles, knees
  • Reduce muscle fatigue/promote efficient muscular performance
  • Decrease pain from feet, knees, hips, low back
  • Relieve stress of additional weight on feet
  • Increase performance ability in sports
  • Avoid/prolong need for surgical management of foot pain
  • Retain/enhance mobility with arthritis
  • Absorb and distribute shock

What do orthotics correct?

  • Foot: pronation/supination; arch deficiency; realign foot and ankle to restore foot function and increase overall mobility
  • Knee: patella-femoral pain; varus/valgus stress
  • Hip: rotational control
  • Back: pelvis control

How will orthotics help with performance at work or in sports?

  • Proper mechanical alignment of foot, ankles, knees, and hips decreasing effects of repetitive stress
  • Decrease muscular fatigue thereby promoting efficient muscular performance
  • Increase endurance, strength and performance abilities
  • Absorb and distribute shock while providing relief from daily stress and injury


About The Author

Kathryn Newsom PT, DPT, ATC specializes in orthopedic rehabilitation and sports medicine. She has 12 years experience as a Certified Athletic Trainer and has been practicing 8 years as a physical therapist. Additionally, she enjoys spending time with her twin 3 year old daughters, exercising and travelling.