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What are orthotics and how do they benefit you

Experiencing foot or heel pain? Considering buying orthotics to help relieve the pain?  The first thing you should know is an orthotic is a shoe insert that supports the abnormal movement of a foot. Made of different materials and quality, not all orthotics are created equal. Understandably, people spend much time and money using the wrong orthotic.

When you experience foot pain, specifically in the arch of the foot,  you likely thought you needed more cushion. A softer sole or more cushion feels great, but it doesn’t address the underlying issue causing the foot pain. This is where many people looking to buy orthotics make their mistake. Knowing which orthotic you need and using our bend test will save you from wasting money and living with more pain.

Orthotic manufacturers make their products to do one of two things:

  1. To provide cushion and comfort. These orthotics are flimsy and made of memory foam. They are an added level of comfort compared to the insoles that come with your shoes. What these orthotic manufacturers don’t tell you is, memory foam orthotics are a short term fix.
  2. To support the abnormal movement of a foot. Foot pain isn’t normal. When you’re experiencing foot pain, it’s due to an abnormality in your foot. These orthotics promote proper foot alignment and movement. Flimsy memory foam can’t do this, so manufacturers use a sturdier material that provides support and stability to keep your foot in place.

 

The Bend Test

A basic way of knowing what your shoe insert was made for is to simply bend it. If you can bend your insert wherever you please, or if you can roll it, then it is an insert made for cushion, not for support. 

Alternatively, when trying to bend the insert, if the area where the arch of the foot sits doesn't bend, then you have a supportive orthotic.   

Dr. Neuhaus explains in 90 seconds the #1 difference between cheap and premium shoe inserts.

 

Those experiencing constant foot pain in the arch or heel need a quality orthotic made to support the foot. While it may provide some short term relief, even the most cushioned insole won’t fix the problem long term.

Buyers can find shoe inserts ranging in price from $10-$1000. What makes one device cost more than another? How much should you spend on your arch supports/orthotics? Podiatrist Matthew Neuhaus provides eye opening facts that will help you relieve pain and save money.

OFF-THE-SHELF OPTIONS:

Cost: $10-$75

Walking into your local pharmacy or other retail store you may find a variety of orthotic brands. Some stores use scanning machines. Others use testimonials of people who are crying about how good the inserts make their feet feel.  No matter the brand or marketing campaign, these orthotics are made to fit a majority of feet. They are often constructed to provide cushion with memory foam or an EVA type material. They will cushion you for a few days. Yet, the cheap material will wear out in a matter of days,  leaving your feet cushionless and unsupported once again.

 

PERSONALIZED ORTHOTICS:

Cost: $500-$1500

So you have decided against the off the shelf options. Now you are looking into what stores like The Goodfeet Store claim to be “custom fit orthotics”. You are looking at prices ranging from $500-$1500 and asking yourself is it worth the cost? The answer is NO! These products come personalized but are not custom. Dr. Matthew Neuhaus says, “An over-the-counter arch support is anything that does not need a mold of the foot. Just because they have a great sales pitch and use the word custom in the description does not mean it is custom!”. These options are extremely overpriced. They are no different than the off-the-shelf options you were considering before.  Dr. Neuhaus says you should never spend more than $75 on a quality orthotic . These personalized orthotics may improve your pain, but the greatest improvement is unlikely. They are being provided by salesmen and are not licensed to provide any medical advice.

 

CUSTOM ORTHOTICS:

Cost: Varies, based on insurance

A custom orthotic is a prescribed medical device from a doctor. Custom means,  a doctor uses casts, impressions, or scans to perfectly fit your foot. A doctor-designed orthotic will control the alignment and function of your foot. These orthotics will treat or prevent abnormal motion, or rolling, of the foot. By redistributing the pressure on the bottom of your feet, you’ll reduce discomfort, pain and calluses. Custom orthotics will increase effectiveness and decrease pain experienced with various cardio activities.  In practice since 2003, Dr. Neuhaus and the doctors at Neuhaus Foot and Ankle provide custom orthotics for patients dealing with foot pain, including chronic arch or heel pain.

 

TAKE HOME POINTS:

If you’re dealing with constant foot pain, a quick trip to the pharmacy won’t be a long term fix. Consider visiting your podiatrist for a proper diagnosis before you spend any money on a shoe insert.  If you do go searching for the home remedy remember you should NEVER spend more than $75 for an insert/arch support.

If the over the counter arch support does not fix your foot pain, you need to see a podiatrist. Podiatrists are the experts when it comes to foot and ankle health.  They can prescribe a custom orthotic for you. Remember, just because a store advertises their product as “custom fit” does not mean it is “custom”. Talk to your doctor before making any purchases to ensure you get the best possible help for your feet!





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