There are many different types of foot orthotics available. At Entire Podiatry, we understand that there are a various factors which might affect the decision you make when it comes to choosing orthotics to best suit your individual needs.
At Entire Podiatry, we offer three different types of orthotics, to suit different circumstances:
This article is designed to give you the information you need to consider when making a decision about orthotics…
What should I consider when deciding on orthotics?
Ask yourself the following questions before deciding on orthotics…
1. What are you looking for from your orthotics?
In our clinical experience, custom foot orthotics will generally provide the most effective symptom relief due to their ability to closely hug the arches of your feet. If you are looking for significant reduction of pain or if you have a condition whereby your feet require considerable support, custom foot orthotics will probably be the best option. However if your symptoms are mild, and you don’t have a unique foot type, then you might like to opt for a CFA or heat-mouldable orthotic.
2. What is your foot type?
If you have a unique foot type, such as a very flat foot, high-arched feet, wide or narrow feet, then you will probably find that custom orthotics are the only good option to provide adequate support for your feet. Although lower cost CFA and Heat Mouldable orthotics are slightly customised to suit your feet, they do not offer the most accurate and reliable method of improving foot function, and are rarely adequate for unique foot types.
3. When will you want to wear your orthotics?
Think about what activities make your pain worse and what type of shoes you are normally wearing when you experience symptoms. This will affect the type of orthotics that will be most suitable and the type of footwear you will need the orthotics to fit into. For example, if you notice heel pain mostly when you are at the gym, it will be best to fit orthotics for your gym shoes.
Some orthotics are not suited to certain shoe types and the orthotics prescribed by your podiatrist will also vary depending on the style of shoe you intend to wear your orthotics with.
4. What type of shoes will you be wearing with your orthotics?
This is a really important point, as it is ultimately the combination of shoes and orthotics that together determine the level of comfort and support you feel. The more accommodating the shoe, the more easily an orthotic can fit into it and the more symptom relief you will experience.
Custom made orthotics can be made in a slimmer fit so that they work with a range of shoe types, including sandals and dress shoes (ladies, they can even be made to fit in high heels!).
5. How long do you want your orthotics to last?
Custom made orthotics are usually made from a durable material, such as polypropylene or carbon fibre. As such, the shells of custom orthotics have about a 2-4 year lifespan (although the orthotic covers may need to be replaced sooner).
In comparison, CFA and Heat Mouldable orthotics have a lifespan of between 6-18 months, depending on the specific material used. Some people prefer or may require orthotics to be made from a softer material, and while there are some advantages of softer materials, the lifespan will usually be less than orthotics made from firmer material.
6. How much do you want to spend and what health fund rebate are you entitled to?
The different types of orthotics have different costs associated with them. Custom foot orthotics will generally be more expensive than CFA or Heat Mouldable orthotics because of the processes involved in ensuring that custom orthotics are an exact fit for your feet. However, health funds will often pay a higher rebate for custom made orthotics than for CFA or Heat Mouldable orthotics.
If you have private health insurance then it’s worth checking with your health fund to estimate your out-of-pocket expenses.
Where can I find more information?
If you think you may need orthotics, make an appointment with one of our podiatrists for more information. In addition to considering all of the above, your podiatrist will also be able to assess your specific foot type, and with consideration of your relevant medical history, can best advise you on the type of orthotics to suit your needs.