Custom orthotics are gaining popularity in the United States as more refined measurements and individualization become more commonplace.
These inserts have been touted to provide an array of benefits for all categories of people who find themselves on their feet for many hours of the day.
The benefits of custom orthotics:
If created properly, custom orthotics can provide the benefit of individualized arch support and comfort, align your ankle, knees, and hips properly, and even alleviate pain from your feet all the way up to your lower back.
While there are plenty of benefits to custom orthotics, it helps to understand why they actually feel good, so we will cover everything you need to know below.
What Are Custom Orthotics
Custom orthotics are a firm mold of plastic or carbon fiber specifically made to fill in your feet, which will alleviate the hot spots or areas of pain in your feet by supporting key areas that your body needs.
The difference of orthotics and insoles is that orthotics are custom made for your feet where as insoles are designed for average arch support and shoe size. Custom orthotics are perfect for a variety of shoe sizes and they also manage specific foot disorders.
Better than that, they are made to support your feet so that it aligns your feet, ankles, and knees to ease the stress and imbalances in your muscle, joints, and ligaments.
Traditionally we had custom orthotics that were heavy, bulky, and cumbersome, but nowadays with modern material the orthotics have gotten far more comfortable and sensible for daily use in just about any shoe you will put on.
Generally, you can have three types of custom orthotics, which include Functional, Accommodative, and Therapeutic.
1. Functional orthotics are made to position your feet into more desirable positions so your body can bear its own weight more effectively in order to move in the least painful way possible. Generally, they are made of rigid or semi-rigid plastic or carbon fiber material.
2. Accommodative orthotics are designed to relieve arthritic stress that puts pressure on the joints and renders the foot unable to move without pain.
Because of the more sensitive nature of these models, they are created with a more flexible or semi-flexible material to “accommodate” the specific issues they seek to alleviate.
3. A therapeutic orthotic is made for those who have irregularly shaped feet, usually, it is designed to assist with stability, arch and heel support, and forward movement that your foot is not able to provide on its own.
Which one of these categories is right for you will be determined by you and your doctor during the creation phase.
How Are Custom Orthotics Made?
Although it is a multistep process to get a pair of custom orthotics created, it is actually fairly light work on the patient’s end of things.
Step 1 is Casting, which is when a physiotherapist will examine your feet and diagnose the conditions you are suffering from, take measurements of all the important areas needed to create these orthotics, and go through a series of questions with you to determine how active your lifestyle is to make accommodations within the molding.
Plaster casting is one of the frequent ways that your foot will be molded. It is done when you are sitting or laying down. A cast made from wet plaster strips is wrapped around your feet and will harden over about 10 minutes.
After that then you have your cast and it will be sent to be created at a specialized custom orthotics lab.
Step 2 is manufacturing, which is when your cast and prescription details are all synthesized into your custom orthotics within a lab.
The cast is pressed against a sheet of plastic or graphite material under extreme heat, then covered with a comfortable material to keep things more comfortable on your end.
Step 3 is the materials which pretty much consists of a rigid foundation and soft liner on top. To create the structured foundation, materials like polypropylene or graphite are used because they can also be flexible.
The materials need to be rigid to add structure to the areas that may be causing injuries, but it also needs some subtle flexibility to allow for some mobility and leeway within your shoe.
The cushioning material that they add can be made from a couple of different substances like neoprene or silicone.
Then that is about it, step 4 is when you get to wear it.
The 4 Benefits of Custom Orthotics
1. Individual to your foot
As we discussed earlier, the fact that custom orthotics are created specifically for your feet makes them perfect for fixing all of your individual ailments caused by your feet.
Believe it or not, the health of your feet has a big impact on the entire body, which means that having the proper support to place your foot in its desired position is crucial to long-term health and wellness.
In this case, individualization accounts for all of the other benefits of custom orthotics, which is why this gets the top spot.
Orthotics are made to prop your arches up in a way that will align your ankles properly, which will ease the pressure off of your knees and hips.
We often neglect alignment as an important method of injury prevention and quality of life, but it can be one of the best ways to keep away from setbacks.
Overpronation of supination will roll your knees and hips either inward or outward, which cheats force-displacement in a way that puts undo dress on all of your muscles, joints, and ligaments.Custom Orthotics will correct overpronation or supination so you can worry more about your day and less about how you’re feeling.
3. Day-to-Day Comfort
Having proper alignment will ease the usual stresses that you are used to feeling in your day-to-day life. This is great if you’ve been experiencing pain in your feet, ankles, knees, or hips.
Many times, it all either stems from the feet or the hips and if you get custom orthotics then you’ll feel more comfortable throughout your day in general. So enjoy the support you get and feel the benefits.
4. Keeps You Healthy
This might feel like it goes without saying, but when your custom orthotics slow the rate of pronation or supination and prop up your arches, you’ll experience fewer injuries over time because you are not stressing your body improperly.
When you are aligned, moving without pain, and not stressing your muscles, joints, and tendons excessively then you’ll probably be staying healthy over time.
Do All Runners Need Custom Orthotics?
Simply put, no, not all runners need orthotics.
In fact, most who use orthotics just need some extra stability to aid in overall quality of life. That is not to say runners do not need custom orthotics, but it is a conversation that you should have with your doctor to understand your personal situation.
Alternatives to Custom Orthotics
Insoles like Superfeet and Curex are great substitutes to custom orthotics, but they are not specifically built for your feet.
If you are interested in the idea of custom orthotics but do not want to go all-in on that investment, you can try out a pair of insoles to fill in your arches, providing some extra support while only costing around $50.It would be worth giving these a try, because if you get the right kind for your feet then you’ll probably feel 80% of the benefits that you’d get from custom orthotics at a cheaper price.
- Cut to Fit: Superfeet insoles are made to be trimmed to fit your shoe; Follow cutting instructions before use; If you're between sizes, size up and trim down to fit
- High Arch and Wide, Deep Heel Cup: Helps stabilize and reduce stress on feet, ankles and back; These orthotic shoe insoles work with your body for maximum support
- Durable Orthotic Shoe Insoles: For reliable support and comfort for up to 12 months or 500 miles
- Odor Control: These arch support insoles have a coating to help with odors in your shoes
- Superfeet: Comfortable, durable, foam arch support shoe insoles for women and men
This is mostly due to the alignment of your lower body joints and the reduction in repetitive stressors like over-pronation, supination, or tight muscles.
It is worth speaking with your doctor to see if they would be a good option for you, it’s possible that your insurance will already cover a pair of custom orthotics as well, so you may really enjoy getting a new pair for your collection of injury reducing equipment.
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Last update on 2022-11-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API