What’s The Deal With “Orthotics”?
By Dr. Jeffrey Frederick
July 05, 2013
Category: Footwear

Gel InsertsI am sure you have heard the commercials by now which advertise happy people who appear light on their feet, cleaning the house or walking briskly in wearing a business suit and dress shoes, all the while with a large toothy smile.  Gel inserts seem to be the new craze in terms of over-the-counter shoe inserts, but what is the big deal?  Are these inserts “better” than the older bulky models?

First, let’s talk about the main types of over-the-counter (or non-prescription) shoe inserts.  It is important to note up front that these inserts are not true “orthotics” as they are not made to alter the biomechanics of the foot.  Instead they function to provide extra support, cushion, or less the friction between the foot and the shoe.  Store bought inserts can either be accommodative, which means they mold to the shape of the foot and are made from foam or gel, or supportive, which tend to be more rigid and made from plastic. 

The two types serve different purposes as well.  Accommodative inserts serve to provide comfort and can be used for conditions like decreased fat pad at the ball of the foot or heel, or to reduce shear forces pressure points such as with painful corns or calluses.  Supportive inserts can be used for heel or arch pain as they function to lift the arch of the foot, thereby relieving stress at the insertion of the plantar fascia. 

Store-bought inserts are not a bad option for mild cases of common foot complaints.  Most inserts cost less than $10, which can be a good start for a minor problem.  The more expensive models for dress shoes tend to differ only slightly than the more economical types, so choose a basic pair first.  However, for a thorough foot exam, which includes taking into account the biomechanical function and structure of the feet, be sure to see your podiatrist. 

Thank you for visiting our website!  Please continue to learn more about your foot care needs by reading other informative articles and by visiting our helpful links.  NorthPointe Foot & Ankle is located in Berkley, MI and has been serving people around the Southfield, Berkley, Ferndale, and Royal Oak area for over 30 years.  Request an appointment via our website or call our office at (248) 545-0100.

Photo used with permission from Microsoft.

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