Today we’re going to talk about something that’s related to physical therapy, but not exactly physical therapy – foot orthotics. We get a lot of questions from clients experiencing foot pain about whether or not they need orthotics. The question seems straightforward, but like many issues with the body, the answer can be complex.
Since we offer foot orthotics alongside physical therapy, we’re going to dig into orthotics – what are they, how do you know when you might need them, and how do you get them?
What are Orthotics?
First – what exactly are orthotics? Orthotics are medical shoe inserts designed to correct foot issues and/or foot pain. They can be custom-made or bought over the counter.
They’re different from standard shoe inserts that you can find over the counter – those inserts are not designed to correct foot issues but instead make shoes more comfortable. For some, inserts are enough to relieve minor foot pain. For others, a custom orthotics solution is needed.
Signs You Might Need Orthotics
1. You have foot pain or swelling
Ok, so this seems like an obvious one, but it’s worth mentioning. It’s easy to dismiss foot pain as “pulling something” or blame it on an ill-fitting shoe. However, if the pain is chronic and occurs after simple activities like standing or walking, it could be a sign that your feet are not properly aligned. Whether or not you need orthotics, it’s a good idea to get any foot pain checked out.
2. You stand for more than 5 hours a day
If your job requires you to stand for most of your shift, it’s a good idea to consider orthotics. That level of stress on your feet each day can easily cause damage and pain. Orthotics can help relieve some of the pressure on your heels, arch, or toes during those long stretches of standing.
3. Your shoes wear out unevenly
The state of your shoes can reveal a lot about your body. Take a look at a few pairs of your shoes and see if you notice any of the following:
- One shoe is consistently more worn than the other (e.g., the right shoe always wears out faster than your left)
- Wear is concentrated on the inner side of the shoe – the side that faces the other shoe. This can be a sign of inward rolling.
- Wear is concentrated on the outer side of the shoe. This can be a sign of outward rolling.
- Any other uneven wear that’s a pattern across several pairs of shoes (e.g., the toes are always worn out further in all your shoes than other areas)
4. Recent lower limb injury
Orthotics aren’t just necessary for your feet – they can also be a necessity caused by other areas of the body. If you’ve had a lower limb injury or pain – hip, knee, leg, or ankle – the way you walk might be affected. Orthotics can help align your body, to reduce pain in these other areas.
5. You frequently run on uneven ground
Runners can sometimes benefit from orthotics – it helps increase your balance and performance. Orthotics aren’t always necessary for frequent runners – but in some cases they are, especially for those who frequently run on uneven ground…so, most of us here in Minnesota. Even if you ultimately don’t require orthotics, it’s a solid idea to meet with a physical therapist to optimize your running goals.
Read Now: Running & Foot Strike Pattern
How to Choose an Orthotic
The best way to decide if you need an orthotic and what kind you need is to meet with a Doctor of Physical Therapy at PRO Therapy. Everyone’s body is completely different, so it’s hard to say which kind of orthotic is “best” – it really just depends on you! Our orthotics are all custom-made for your body. An expert can scan your foot and listen to your experiences to determine the exact right configuration for your body and your needs.
PRO Therapy is a Foot Levelers provider. Foot Levelers custom orthotics are a research-proven solution for plantar fasciitis, low back pain, ankle sprains/ankle instability, knee pain, and many other musculoskeletal conditions. These orthotics are custom-built to balance and support your unique feet and body, and to suit the demands of your individual lifestyle and activities.
Download Now: 10 Fast, Easy Solutions to Stop Ankle/Foot Pain and Stiffness
Our FREE guide on foot pain covers some of the main causes, as well as what you can do at home to help alleviate it.
PRO Therapy is an Independently Owned Orthopedic Physical Therapy Clinic. At PRO Therapy, we treat back, knee, neck/shoulder, ankle/foot, and hip pain as well as sports injuries, surgery rehabilitation, and anything else that’s causing you pain. We want everyone to have exceptional care, better access to care and be able to complete the activities in life that make them happy – free from a life of painkillers, injections, or surgeries.