What are Shoe Inserts?
Shoe inserts are found almost anywhere in today’s market from the pre-packaged arch supports with various materials to the “custom-made” foot insoles that could be ordered online or at retail stores. Unless the device has been prescribed by a doctor and crafted for your specific foot, it’s a shoe insert, not a custom orthotic device.
Custom molded foot orthoses is custom made to your foot and made by your doctor. It has a multitude of benefits that vary for each individual foot type and deformity. They align and correct deformities of the foot such as high arches, flat arches, ankle deformities, lower leg, hip and low back pain.
Shoe inserts are bought over-the-counter pre-packaged or some stores have a machine that you step on. These devices are inserts and can cushion your feet providing shock absorption and comfort, and support your arches. They can’t; however, correct biomechanical foot problems or cure long-standing foot issues.
The most common types of over-the-counter shoe inserts are:
- Arch supports: “bumped-up” appearance and are designed to support the foot’s natural arch.
- Insoles: made often of gel, foam or plastic that slip in shoes to provide extra cushioning and support.
- Heel liners: known as heel pads or heel cups, provide extra cushioning in the heel region. They may be especially useful for patients who have foot pain caused by age-related thinning of the heels’ natural fat pads.
- Foot cushions: Vary in shapes and sizes that are used as a barrier between your skin and the shoe.
- Choosing an Over-the-Counter Shoe Insert:
- Consider your health. Do you have diabetes? Problems with circulation? An over-the-counter insert may increase your risk of foot ulcers and infections. A podiatrist can help you select a solution that won’t cause additional health problems.
- Think about the purpose. Are you planning to run a marathon, or do you just need a little arch support in your work shoes? Look for a product that fits your planned level of activity.
- Bring your shoes. Foot inserts are as good as the shoe you’re wearing. Shoe shape, depth, type of material, rigidity, width, and length aid in the correction and proper function of the foot. It’s best to bring your sneakers, dress shoes, or work boots—whatever you plan to wear with your insert.
- Try them on. Do feel aligned and corrected? Or do they hurt because they’re making matters worse?Custom orthotics are specially-made devices that are only manufactured after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs. The orthotic can accommodate your unique foot structure and are designed to correct and align, relieve symptoms, prevent other aliments from forming, decreases shock and gives support, and comfort your feet. Prescription orthotics are crafted for you only. They match the contours of your feet precisely and are designed for every step you take. Prescription orthotics are divided into two categories:
- What are Prescription Custom Orthotics?
- Functional “Corrective” orthotics are designed to control abnormal motion that leads to pain. Improper foot function transfers body weight, pressures and forces abnormally through the ankles, legs, knees, hips and spine. Functional/Corrective orthotics are usually crafted of a semi-rigid and rigid materials such as plastic or graphite that vary in thickness/rigidity.
- Accommodative orthotics are softer and meant to provide additional cushioning and support. They can be used to treat diabetic foot ulcers, painful calluses on the bottom of the foot, and other uncomfortable conditions. Some are cork and leather, sub ortholen, and several thin plastics with poron and spenco top covers for shock absorption.Orthotics cost more than shoe inserts purchased in a retail store. Unlike shoe inserts, orthotics are molded to fit each individual foot to relief symptoms and correct deformity. Prescription orthotics are also made of top-notch materials and last many years when cared for properly. Insurance coverage vary pending on plan.Over-the-counter shoe inserts are fine for extra cushioning or support. If you have serious pain or discomfort, however, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist. He or she will assess your overall health and look for any other contributing factors. Today’s podiatrists are specially trained to evaluate the biomechanics of the lower extremity.The information gathered during the exam will help your podiatrist determine if shoe inserts might be helpful or if you need prescription orthotics. If orthotics are needed, then a set of unique foot supports that will improve your foot movement and lead to more comfort and mobility. Your podiatrist might also suggest additional treatments to improve the comfort and function of your feet.
- Your podiatrist will examine your feet and how you walk. He or she will listen carefully to your complaints and concerns and assess the movement and function of your lower extremities. Some also use advanced technology to see how your feet function when walking or running.
- When to Visit a Podiatrist?
- Podiatrists use orthotics to treat foot problems such as heel pain, plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendinitis, diabetic foot ulcers, pediatric and geriatric foot deformities, and lower legs deformities. Clinical research studies have shown that podiatrist-prescribed foot orthotics decrease foot pain and improve overall function.