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Orthotics, also known as orthoses, refers to the device inserted into a shoe. These inserts help correct an irregular gait pattern and provide cushion to the feet. Orthotics come in a variety of different models and sizes, including over-the-counter and customizable variants.

They come in many shapes, sizes, and materials and fall into three main categories:

  • Designed to change foot function
  • Primarily protective in nature
  • Combine functional control and protection

Prescription custom orthotics can be shaped and contoured to fit inside a specific shoe and are prescribed by a podiatrist who specializes in orthotics design.

Sometimes they are incorrectly called arch supports. However, orthotics allow people to stand, walk, and run more efficiently and comfortably.

Over-the-counter Orthotics: Why Should You Avoid?

While over-the-counter orthotics are available and may help people with mild symptoms, they cannot do what a prescription foot orthoses can since they are not custom made to fit an individual’s unique foot structure and symptoms.

Custom Orthotics

The doctors at Ankle N Foot Centers have been studying biomechanics for over 45 years collectively. Some are athletes and have additional personal knowledge of sports orthotics. As experts of human motion and mechanics-especially of the lower extremity-we are able to diagnose these issues and design an orthotic scientifically for those symptoms.

Capturing the correct impression makes a difference-this is done by one of our trained physicians. Our podiatrists have the ability to adjust the custom orthotic in house-without having to send back to the fabricating lab.

Rigid Orthotics

Rigid orthotic devices are designed to control function and are used primarily for walking or dress shoes. They are also used in sports requiring mechanical improvements, resulting in performance measurable in seconds or less.

Examples are skates and ski boots. They are often composed of a firm material, such as plastic or carbon fiber. Rigid orthotics are made from a mold after we take a fiberglass cast or other kind of image of the foot.

We use special fiberglass casts because they can produce plaster-like casts without the mess and in less time.

Rigid orthotics control motion in the joints and indirectly the knee, hip and spinal joints and may improve performance or decrease or eliminate strains, aches, and pains in those areas.

Soft Orthotics

Soft orthotics are generally used to absorb shock and take pressure off uncomfortable or sore spots. They may also be used temporarily until the rigid orthotics come in. They are usually effective for diabetic, arthritic, and deformed feet.

Soft orthotics are typically made of soft, cushioned materials and are full length almost all the time. Like rigid orthotics, soft orthotics are also made from a mold after we take a fiberglass cast or other kind of image of the foot.

Semi-Rigid Orthotics

Semi-rigid orthotics provide foot balance for walking or participating in sports. Sometimes they are used for patients who may need a balance between a soft and rigid orthotic.

The typical semi-rigid orthotic is made up of layers of soft material, reinforced with more rigid materials. These orthotics may be used to help athletes with pain while they train and compete or for seniors & diabetics who may require additional foot control.

Children’s Orthotics

These are usually made from a softer plastic-but the orthotic is usually rigid and may have modifications to help alter walking patterns.

For example-To control in-toeing or out-toeing, keep the arch raised, relieve heel pain, This requires intimate knowledge of when the child should be growing out of in-toeing, low arches, internal or external knee positions-which is normal at certain developmental milestones.

Image depicting Orthotics
A picture of orthotics