There is a big difference between orthotics and insoles. Insoles are designed to provide a cushioning effect and shock absorption. They may feel comfortable but they are not designed to prevent or treat biomechanical problems such as over-pronation. Certain insoles do provide an arch support but the material that they are made from is too soft to be able to provide the necessary support to your foot thus having little or no effect. The easiest way to describe an insole is to compare them to the insole that you get in most shoes when you purchase them, particularly training shoes. Insoles can also be used for odour control.
Orthotics work to relieve pain by realigning and supporting the ligaments and bones of the foot properly, so that the foot can function as normal. Orthotics are used to reduce pain, redistribute pressure and to prevent problems with our feet. Orthotics are also used to restore natural foot function and to cure conditions such as flat feet. Although orthotics also provide some shock absorption this is not their main purpose.
An orthotic can be custom made by a Podiatrist or bought off the shelf. Custom orthotics are unique to each individual patient and are made from a variety of materials so whether you need the smallest lighest device or a very controlling cushion device we can meet your needs. No two orthotics are the same, they are made for your feet and your mechanics alone.
There are 3 main types of orthotics:
- Custom made (rigid) orthotics
Custom made orthotics are prescribed for patients with biomechanical disorders such as over-pronation. Custom-made, rigid orthotics are only available from a Podiatrist as they are unique to each individual patient.
- Heat-mouldable orthotics
Heat-mouldable orthotics are a standard ‘off-the-shelf’ flexible device made of medium-firm density material. The device can be heated to slightly alter the shape. Sometimes wedges are added for a more customised result.
- Pre made off the shelf orthotics
Pre-made orthotics are a soft-medium density shoe insert, usually available from your Podiatrist. Patients get used to the orthotics quickly and most find them very comfortable. Also, after a few weeks of wear these type of orthotics will customise to the wearer’s foot shape, because of their body weight and body heat. A pre-made orthotic would generally be offered to an elderly or very young patient as the material is softer and more tolerable than a rigid orthotic.
To summarise, an insole is a device to cushion and absorb shock whilst an orthotic is a device which can relive pain, redistribute pressure and restore natural foot function.
If you think you may need orthotics make an appointment with your Podiatrist to discuss the correct orthotic prescription for you.