Are your feet aching again?
Insoles & orthotics are a popular solution for a number of foot-related issues and can be very effective at reducing pain and addressing other physical or postural problems. While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are different products that do different things, so it is important to make sure that you’re not using the wrong one.
What are Orthotics?
Foot orthotics are custom foot supports designed to realign your lower limb weight alignment and transference and address or reduce the underlying cause of injury. These typically are a built-up orthotic insole that fits into your normal footwear and we are able to demonstrate different styles to match your preferred footwear from dress shoes to walking boots! These can sometimes be a short-term requirement but are often necessary to wear long term as the underlying cause of the altered alignment is not normally reversible.
These customised shoe inserts can be used to address a number of health issues, these can range from foot problems to back pain. Problems over time can cause feet to toll and become deformed. This can lead to other problems such as pain running up the legs, or changes in posture.
It is important the insoles are replaced when wearing out in order to prevent a re-occurrence of the initial injury. An Orthotic is a support, brace, or splint used to support, align, prevent, or correct the function of movable parts of the body. Shoe inserts are orthotics that are intended to correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern, by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface. Orthotics work in mysterious ways. One hypothesis is that orthotics correct skeletal alignment problems, some experts claim there is no evidence to support that proposition. Rather than moving bones around, it is more likely that orthotics affect muscle activity. The key to successful orthotics is figuring out how they affect muscle activity, how to correct activity that is causing pain or injury, this can lead to more consistent prescribing of orthotics.
What is the difference between Inserts and Orthotics?
Insoles or Inserts
You can usually purchase in stores without a prescription and they are usually made of a soft gel material, and may also have other forms of foam or plastic if they are designed to address a specific problem e.g. fallen arches.
Orthotics are similar to inserts, but with the important distinction of being custom made. This, of course, means that they will be designed to address not only the specific issue that you have, but they will also be designed to fit your feet perfectly, not approximately. This greatly increases their effectiveness in reducing pain and correcting existing problems.
What are orthotics used for?
Orthotics are different. They are prescription medical devices that you wear inside your shoes to correct biomechanical foot issues such as problems with how you walk, stand, or run. They can also help with foot pain caused by medical conditions such as diabetes, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, and arthritis.
How much does it cost for orthotics?
Abbey Physiotherapy can provide off the shelf orthotics starting from around £35. Alternatively, we can refer you for an assessment for some custom made ones which will cost around £80. The advantage of orthotics (supportive insoles) is you can transfer then from shoe to shoe.
Another option is to look for some footwear which has some built-in support, but this tends to be less supportive than an insole type and is only in one pair of -footwear. There is however have an excellent range of footwear with correction including sandals, ballet type shoes and heeled shoes, all of which can be difficult to fit an insole into, so for people preferring this type of footwear they can be an excellent choice!
How do you know if you need orthotics?
Sometimes a pain you have in your foot can be indicative of needing orthotics if it is related to your foot posture. Any issues with your knee, hip or even back can also sometimes trackback to altered foot posture, so a comprehensive assessment from us at Abbey Physiotherapy can indicate whether an orthotics is required among other treatment options. There are different type of altered foot biomechanics that require different types of insoles and different footwear that patients prefer to wear so you will need an assessment to determine which one would suit your need
Should you wear orthotics all the time?
If you have altered foot posture, then this is present all the time so ideally whenever you are on your feet it would be ideal to have your orthotics in and this can include your slippers! In reality, some people only need to wear them for sport or when walking long distances. If you are sitting at a desk most of the day you may not need to wear them at this time, and if going out for a night out, a few hours in heels without insoles is not normally a problem. If you are on your feet all day at work or home, then ideally you should have your orthotics in all day too.
Will I have to wear orthotics forever?
It is very difficult to 'correct' the foot position actively using your muscles etc. For most patients, the altered foot position is not something that will get better with time and the orthotics will need to be a long term solution. How much you 'load' your body will determine if you will need the insoles, so for example if you lower your activity levels, you may find your body copes better without the insoles, or you may not need to wear them all day.
Do you need bigger shoes when wearing orthotics?
Orthotics do take up space in footwear, not just in the length of the shoe but also in the height. The most accomodating type of footwear as a trainer style shoe, which is not always appropriate for work in an office! Your Physiotherapist at Abbey Physiotherapy will be able to advise you on options of orthotics and their suitability with various forms of footwear