What are Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are biomechanical devices made to help correct abnormal foot alignment. They fit in your shoe and are not visible. They differ from store-bought arch supports in that they are specially made to fit your foot (and only your foot) and correct your specific alignment issues.
How do Custom Orthotics Work?
The foot is made of a complex group of bones, ligaments, and muscles that form 3 arches. These arches help distribute body weight, act as springs to propel the body forward and absorb shock, and to protect delicate vessels and nerves. When the arches are too low (“flat feet”) or too high (“high arches”), the joints and tissues in the legs become misaligned causing pain in the feet, legs, or knees. Custom orthotics put the foot in the most mechanically correct position to improve function and reduce stress and strain.
How are Custom Orthotics Made?
A thorough evaluation is performed assessing flexibility, function, strength, and position of the foot. Your foot is then placed in the mechanically correct position while it is casted in plaster. All of this information, along with the cast, is sent to Biomechanical Services, our partner lab in southern California. Once they arrive, the fabrication specialist and the therapist discuss the individual issues you are having, your history of previous issues, the physical demands you put on your feet, and the materials and product specifications that will help to return you to a pain-free lifestyle. They are then constructed and returned to the therapist who will educate you on proper use.
What Issues Can Custom Orthotics Help?
Some of the issues include:
- Heel and arch pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Pain with walking/running
- Nerve pain
- Knee pain
- Lower leg strain
- Stress fractures
Does Everyone with a “Flat Foot” or “High Arch” Need Custom Orthotics?
No. Some people with a misaligned foot will function well and never have pain. In fact, some elite athletes have “imperfect” feet. However, some people have pain that can be directly related to the position of their feet. For some, an over-the-counter “arch support” will meet their needs. Others will require specialized devices such as custom orthotics to achieve their peak pain-free function.
How Do I Know If I Need Custom Orthotics?
After your evaluation (and before casting), the therapist will discuss your individual needs. Based on your evaluation, we may recommend custom orthotics, over-the-counter supports, different shoes, a specialized exercise program, or a combination of all these. We will only recommend what we feel will help you feel and perform your best.