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What are foot Orthotics?

An orthotic is a shoe insert that supports your foot, promoting proper foot and ankle alignment for more efficient movement. Wearing orthotics may help prevent abnormal motion or rolling of the ankle that often causes foot pain.


  • Orthotics vs inserts. You can get over-the-counter shoe inserts from many pharmacies; however, these are not the same as custom orthotics. Inserts provide an extra layer of cushioning in your shoes, making walking more comfortable and temporarily easing foot pain. Orthotics are prescribed medical devices custom-made to fit your foot and are often more rigid and long-lasting than generic inserts.


  • How are custom orthotics made? Your podiatrist will use scans or impressions to create 3D images of your foot and get an overview of any structural abnormalities that could be causing pain. They will also examine your posture and gait for more insight into your foot concerns. Once the podiatrist has determined your unique support needs, they will create a custom shoe insert that fits your foot perfectly.


  • Types of orthotics. You can use rigid plastic or carbon fibre orthotics to support your feet when wearing shoes with a closed toe and low heels, such as runners or dress shoes. Rigid orthotics are also called functional orthotics, and they help prevent strain in your legs and lower back from improper foot alignment. Soft or accommodative orthotics are flexible, providing cushioning and relief for painful foot conditions.

When Does a Podiatrist Recommend Orthotics?

Chronic foot pain can cause you to reposition your feet as you walk, which may cause further complications. Orthotics can help realign your feet and ankles while providing cushioning for painful areas. You may benefit from custom orthotics if you have any of the following foot concerns:

  • Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of the plantar fascia – the thick layer of tissue under your foot that connects your toes to your heels. This tissue supports your arches and absorbs shock, and its inflammation is a common cause of heel pain. A podiatrist may prescribe orthotics to support the plantar fascia, preventing heel pain and poor foot positioning.

  • Foot abnormalities, such as flat or high arches, heel spurs, or hammertoes, can cause chronic foot or ankle pain. A podiatrist may suggest orthotics to provide cushioning and support where your feet need it most. Orthotics can help prevent your feet from rolling excessively inwards or outwards, which often causes leg, hip, or back pain.

  • Foot ulcers and callouses. If you have diabetes and have reduced sensation in your feet, you may benefit from custom orthotics. Wearing orthotics can help reduce pressure on your feet that causes painful foot ulcers, bunions, and callouses. An orthotic insert can also help correct irregular foot posture caused by rheumatoid arthritis.