Orthotics: Do You Need Them?

Almost everyday, one or more patients ask me if they need orthotics for their shoes or sneakers.

Orthotics are inserts that are placed inside your footwear. There are many types-some custom fitted and expensive and others "off the shelf".

Orthotics are usually meant to correct issues with your feet that result in problems in the foot, ankle, lower leg or knee most commonly. Even some hip or lower back issues can be linked to faulty foot alignment or function.

If you are having no muscle bone or joint problems then I do not believe that you need orthotics. There is no proof that they help performance. If you have low (pronated) or high (supinated) arches and you are having stubborn problems with certain conditions like tendonitis, heel pain, shin splints, stress fractures and patellar pain-then orthotics may help you. Also leg length inequalities can be corrected when your orthotics are made.

Orthotics are usually made by a podiatrist. Before you jump in, be sure that you are doing all you can with a good supportive well fitting shoe or sneaker. Also try "over the counter" non-custom, inexpensive inserts like those made by Spenko, Dr Scholl or Sorbothane- they usually can be gotten at a good running store or sporting goods store.

If you do get custom orthotics, a gradual break-in period is needed starting with a short periods of use for a few days and building up gradually to all day use. They should always be comfortable. If not, see your podiatrist (or whoever made them) and get things adjusted. I have found that this is needed more often than you would think.

More on sore feet in an upcoming blog.