Orthotic Insoles – Choosing the Right Type For You
By Fred Salomon
1) Customized (rigid) insoles:
These orthotic insoles are for patients with intense biomechanical disorders which are more severe than the usual degree of overpronation that most of us suffer from. Custom-made, rigid orthotic inserts can only be created by a podiatrist. For example, some people experience ‘supination’, which is the opposite to pronation. Their feet roll to the outside or ‘supinate’, and the arch stays high and rigid when hitting the ground. This condition is called a cavus foot or high-arched foot, and only affects 5 percent of the world’s population. Supinators will need a custom-made orthotic that fixes this type of malfunction.
Also, patients with very large bunions, foot ulcers, foot deformities or totally flat feet will need to see a foot specialist. After preliminary diagnosis of flat feet, or any of the above mentioned conditions, the podiatrist will determine the right custom-made prescription orthotic. After that, a plaster cast with a negative impression of the person’s foot is made, and this cast is then shipped to an a special laboratory for manufacturing orthotics. Using this cast, a positive cast is made by pouring plaster into the negative mold. The end product is an accurate reproduction of the bottom of the foot. From this copy, the orthotic technician (orthotist) will create a custom orthotic, providing the appropriate adjustments, as ordered by the podiatrist. The end product is a rigid (or semi-rigid) orthotic device. Although these devices are biomechanically correct, many people find it very difficult getting used to them them.
2) Heat-moldable insoles:
Heat-moldable insoles are a more economical substitute to the costly custom insoles, which usually cost several hundreds of dollars per pair. They are a standard, off-the-shelf, flexible product made of medium-firm density E.V.A. material. The product then can be heated up to slightly adjust its contour. Sometimes wedges are added for a more customized feel. Heat-moldable arch supports cost around $100 to $140 and are to a large extent easier to get used to than custom rigid orthotics.
3) Off-the-Shelf Orthotics:
Prefabricated orthotic insoles are a soft-medium density insole, available from drug stores, online from specialized websites, and also from some physiotherapists and chiropractors. Individuals will get used to these orthotics almost instantly, and the cost varies from $30 to $50 per pair.
Research has shown that for 80 percent of patients dealing with over pronation, a prefabricated arch support will offer sufficient correction of wearing them, these types of insoles will adjust to the patient’s foot shape, due to their body weight and body heat. Most prefabricated orthotic insoles are made of EVA, a supple but firm material that holds up the foot without harming the arches. Children and the elderly will mainly benefit from a less rigid type of arch support, since they tend to be less tolerant of anything rigid under the foot.
It is always a smart decision to ask for the opinion of a physician when you are making this type of decision. You want to ensure you are making the most appropriate choice for your particular disorder.