9 Tips From Top Foot Doctors on Getting the Most Out of Custom Orthotics

Imagine walking on the shore of a beautiful beach, warm water lapping at your feet, as the sand cradles your foot with each step. Nice! How Custom Orthotics Tipsabout the image of stepping into a shallow basin of warm, freshly puffed marshmallow fluff…okay, maybe too sticky.

Here it is. Imagine the sweet breath of 1,000 angels, gently lifting your feet off the ground, and into the clouds. It’s you, Mercury, messenger of the gods, suspended aloft in winged sandals. That, folks, is what it feels like to wear custom-fitted orthotics. Well, pretty close, anyway.

Custom orthotics provide tailor-made support for your feet

Unlike over-the-counter products, custom orthotics are created in-house, using a plaster mold of your feet.

They can prevent and treat many common foot and ankle issues. If you’re experiencing aches and pains in the arch, ankle, knee, hip, or lower back, custom orthotics could be a simple, inexpensive, and noninvasive solution to your problems.

Even if you aren’t currently experiencing any issues, you should consider what custom orthotics could do for you. Overuse injuries are common in people with active lifestyles. Your ability to do your job or run your favorite trails could come to a screeching halt if you end up with one of the dozens of stress injuries we see at UFAI. With custom orthotics, you can treat or even avoid:

  • Ankle instability
  • Tendonitis
  • Bunions
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Neuromas
  • Arthritis

University Foot and Ankle Institute, premier orthotic specialists in Southern California

UFAI makes over 10,000 pairs of custom orthotics each year, for patients of all kinds: from small children to adults, people who work on their feet, professional athletes, weekend warriors, seniors and everyone in between. If you’re new to custom orthotics, here are some tips for how to wear them.

  1. Only use your orthotics with the type of shoes they were created for. Not sure, ask your doctor. Often the orthotics you would wear for athletic or work shoes may be different than those you would use for formal shoes.
  2. Remove any manufacturer arch supports or additions to your shoes before fitting them with the orthotic. Your orthotics can be slipped right over a flat shoe insert.
  3. Always wear socks or stockings.
  4. On Day 1, wear your orthotics for one hour. On Day 2, wear them for two hours, and increase that time by one hour each day until you can wear them all day.
  5. It may take several weeks for your orthotics to feel comfortable. You may feel some odd pressure points or notice some slippage. If you feel that you need to force yourself to wear them, stop trying, and contact your doctor.
  6. Squeaky shoes? Remove the orthotics and sprinkle them with talcum or baby powder, then re-insert them.
  7. If the orthotics break or wear out, bring them to your doctor for repair or replacement. Don’t try to fix them yourself (we’re looking at you, Mr. Duct-Tape-Solves-Everything).
  8. Avoid getting your orthotics wet, as their shape may warp. If they do get wet, just let them air dry. Don’t put them in or near any heat sources, like the dryer or radiator.
  9. You can wash your orthotics with a mild soap and water. Wipe them down with a paper towel and let them dry out completely before wearing them again.

Custom Orthotics Tips From the Pros, University Foot and Ankle Institute

Are custom orthotics a better choice than over-the-counter shoe inserts?

Briefly put, the answer is usually “yes”. Of course, an orthotic that is made just for your anatomical needs is always going to be better than something that is made for the masses. But the real question is “will the added expense of custom orthotics benefit you enough to outweigh its expense?”  Often, but not always. It really depends on your feet and this is a question for your doctor.

There are often economic considerations to address, such as what to do if your insurance doesn’t help cover the cost, or you have no health insurance at all. Then the discussion may need to be which over-the-counter inserts will benefit you the most, and our doctors can help you with that too.

In the process of creating your custom orthotic insert, the podiatrists at University Foot and Ankle Institute carefully examine your feet, the way you walk and, if appropriate, run. They’ll ask if you have pain, which can be in your feet but also in your calves and knees (whose source can be coming from your feet). Every situation and each foot require a different amount of control and positioning of the molds because every foot has a unique architecture. For these reasons, custom orthotics are significantly more effective than over-the-counter type shoe inserts.

If you are experiencing problems with your feet or ankles we are here to help. Our nationally recognized podiatrists and foot and ankle specialists offer the most advanced foot and ankle care, together with the highest success rates in the nation. We are leaders in both research and treatment of all foot and ankle conditions.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, please call (877) 736-6001 or visit us at www.footankleinstitute.com.

Gray O'Brien

Gray O'Brien

Gray O’Brien, PT, MPT, OCS, physical therapist licensed by the Physical Therapy Board of California, graduated with his Master’s in Physical Therapy from Long Island University.

Since 1999, Gray has been working with weekend-warriors, high school, collegiate, and professional athletes, with a special focus on orthopedic/sports rehabilitation. He specializes in foot and ankle pathologies and post-operative recovery. Gray has been with UFAI since 2006.
Gray O'Brien

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