Looking to get orthotics and don’t know where to start?
Want to know how orthotics from a Podiatrist are different from the ones at the chemist? And are they really worth the price?
Read on to learn what orthotics are, how they work and how they are used to treat foot conditions.
What is an orthotic?
Orthotics are a special shoe inserts that can be used to treat numerous foot conditions. There are many different types of orthotics, and they will vary in materials and features based on where you get yours.
History of orthotics
Orthotics have been successfully used for centuries as a treatment for foot pain and to improve comfort. The materials used and theory behind them has evolved and changed over time. Originally made with metal, they now use specialised plastics. The comfort and fit of orthotics has improved to provide the best solution for people that need to wear them.
Podiatrist and Orthotics
Podiatrists are experts in foot care with training in foot anatomy, biomechanics and prescribing orthotics for therapy. At our foot clinics, we assess all our patients looking at symptoms, their footwear, activity and recommend orthotic therapy options if needed.
How do orthotics work?
Our patients always ask us this question and feel that as Podiatrists, we should be able to answer it as best as possible. The goal of orthotic therapy is to reduce internal and external forces which are acting on specific parts of foot, to treat injury and reduce foot pain.
Orthotics alter pressure coming from the ground to the foot (ground reaction force) when you stand, walk or run. By altering these forces, we can achieve better foot function and reduce any excessive forces that lead to foot injury.
Depending on pathology and where your foot pain is located, different orthotic design with specific features can change location, magnitude and timing of force acting within the foot. These excessive forces inside the foot and ankle are the cause of nearly all mechanically related injuries that we treat on a daily basis.
By wearing orthotics, we can help send back sensory feedback to your brain to prompt it to change its movement during gait. With these signals, your brain can send corrective movements to the foot and improve function, avoid pain and prevent injury.
Now that the Physics lesson is finished read on to see how orthotics can help you with your foot pain.
If you are experiencing foot pain or discomfort, make an appointment with one of our Podiatrists to assess your feet.
Orthotics are used to treat numerous foot conditions.
Depending on which condition you have, the design and the features of the device will to help provide you with the best treatment outcome. Orthotics are never a standalone treatment. Your Podiatrist will recommend footwear changes, exercises and in some cases medication as well.
Here are some examples of foot conditions that can be treated with orthotics:
Different types of orthotics
Not all orthotics are made equal. Difference in materials and construction leads to variation in specialisation and ultimately price.
These are ones you would find in the pharmacy which fit according to shoe size. Many people can buy OTC orthotics and find them comfortable and able to relieve some of their foot pain. They tend to be a generic foot shape with some brands having specialised features such as “low arch” or “for high arches”. Remember, not everyone has the same foot and one-size-fits-all approach may not work for some people. Another downside to OTC orthotics is that they tend not to last long because of the materials used to make them.
This is where an orthotic is moulded to your foot. It allows more personalisation than an OTC orthotic and is more durable. They are handmade by your Podiatrist in a clinic. A silicon impression or foot mould is taken from the patients’ feet. This impression is later used to shape the warmed pieces of compressed materials that the orthotics/orthoses are made of. The patients’ feet are settled into these for a moment until the piece of warm orthotics have cooled down.
These are prescriptive foot orthotics where a Podiatrist incorporates patient-specific prescriptive elements into the design of the device. Typically, an impression of a foot is taken either by plaster or 3D scan, which is then reproduced in a lab. Then an orthotic is designed and made to fit your feet. They are 100% handmade by a specialist and involve complicated steps to manufacture.
Custom Moulded Foot Orthotics
Custom Made Orthotics
100% personalised to you
Private Health Insurance
we offer two orthotic solutions for our patients:
Orthotic therapy is a multi -step process. If you are considering getting orthotics from a foot doctor in Sydney, we will assess your relevant history, footwear and biomechanics. You can rest assured we will only recommend orthotics when necessary.
Step 1: Assessment
A comprehensive foot assessment including footwear history and visual gait assessment.
Step 2: Orthotic Selection
Your podiatrist will recommend orthotic options according to your clinic needs. You will decide which option you would like to proceed with.
Step 3: Orthotic Fitting
Orthotics when ready will be fitted into your chosen footwear, and a six-week review appointment will be booked in.
Step 4: Review
The podiatrist will review how your orthotics are going and implement any modifications if required.
what shoes can i put my orthotics in?
Shoes are important when it comes to orthotic function. Wearing proper fitting orthotic-friendly shoes can help improve function of the your orthotics and avoid any potential fit issues. Your shoes should have:
Orthotic-friendly shoe design has come a long way in the last few years. You don’t have to worry about waeringyou no longer have to wear clunky, ugly shoes as previously in the past.
Dont know what shoes to put your orthotics in?
Download our updated Podiatrist recommended shoe list
evidence for orthotic therapy
There have been numerous studies on orthotic therapy and its role in treating foot and ankle conditions. Here are some summaries from recent studies done.
Orthotics are without their own controversies and myths. Here are some common myths and some answers from our Podiatrists.
Orthotics aren’t only for people with flat feet, they can be used for different foot types and conditions.
Orthotics are designed based on your needs. Depending on what is wrong, and what activity you are going to use them for, different materials are used. Some are hard, some are soft. But the goal of orthotic therapy is never to give you any pain but to treat your foot problem. If you feel pain or discomfort when wearing your orthotics, you should talk immediately to your podiatrist.
Orthotics do not immobilise your feet. As mentioned in our section on how orthotics work, they alter high forces acting in certain parts of your feet that lead to foot pain. You are constantly putting pressure on them when walking and standing, so as a result it’s hard to develop weakness in your feet. If you have pre-existing reduced strength in important muscles in your foot and legs, especially if they are important in highly demanding activities like running of professional dancing, we recommend working on strengthening those.
That’s incorrect. Shoes and orthotics have a close relationship, wearing inappropriate ill-fitting shoes can reduce the function and efficacy of your orthotics.
Not all OTC orthotics are the same. Some are highly specialised and durable and can be effective in treatment especially in children. However, sometimes they might not be therapeutic and you may require a custom made orthotic.
Custom Made Orthotics
Take advantage of our discounts and save money on multiple pairs of orthotics.
A good pair of orthotics is the best investment in your foot health.
frequently asked questions
Yes, orthotics wear out. Materials and use will determine how quickly that happens. If you have a highly demanding activity that you feel will wear out your orthotics, make sure to talk to your podiatrist so they can recommend the correct orthotic for you.
At The Foot Hub this will depend on which orthotics you receive. Our Sidas orthotics are prescribed and made by our podiatrists on site. For custom made orthotics our podiatrists prescribe orthotics, but they are sent to a state-of-the-art orthotic lab for manufacture. At the lab, 3D technology and equipment recreate your foot casts from the scan. Orthotics are made by hand by high qualified orthotists following your orthotic prescription.
If your pair of Sketchers shoes have features recommended in the orthotic-friendly shoes section, then yes you can. But if the outsole is too soft and there is no firm heel counter, they won’t be ideal to put your orthotics in.
A bunion deformity is a structural condition. Orthotics can help reduce pain associated with bunions making weightbearing activities more comfortable.
No, Medicare does not cover costs for orthotics. If you are eligible for a chronic disease management plan, Medicare will rebate $53.80 per appointment.
We recommend a biomechanical assessment for a podiatrist to assess your feet and recommend which orthotics will work for you.
Orthotics will not change your foot structure. They will, however, support your flat foot when walking, running or standing for long periods of time. They also treat any conditions or foot pain that can arise from flat feet.
Orthotics can be used to treat different conditions like patellofemoral syndrome or various foot conditions that can lead to knee pain.