Care of orthotics
Once you’ve started to wear your orthotics things tend to feel so good that it’s easy to forget about them. However, it is important that you take care of your orthotics to prolong their lifespan and to ensure they are providing you with adequate support and achieving their therapeutic goal.
To minimise the chance of the orthotics breaking, take care when moving them in and out of the shoe and never force them into a shoe that they don’t fit well into. If the glue starts to lift let your podiatrist know as soon as possible so they can address this.
Do not attempt to conduct repairs yourself. Your orthotics have been designed in a very specific and precise way. Any changes made to them can affect the way they work and can alter the effect they have on your feet.
How to wash orthotic innersoles
Your orthotics will need to be cleaned on a regular basis or if they get stained, dirty or smelly. The best way to do this is to gently clean the top of the orthotic using a damp cloth and a small amount of mild detergent or hand soap. Then rinse the soap away using lukewarm water.
Avoid using hot water as this can affect the glue and may cause the orthotic cover to peel or warp. Avoid using any chemicals other than mild soaps and detergents on your orthotics as this can degrade the material.
Allow the orthotics to dry overnight. Do not use any sort of heat such as a hair dryer or a tumble dryer to dry the orthotics as this can change the shape of the orthotics and affect the glue.
What to do about smelly orthotics
If you find that your orthotics are getting smelly simply give them a clean with a damp cloth as described above. If the smell remains after they have been cleaned there are a few other tricks you can try.
Orthotics usually become smelly as they have absorbed the sweat from the feet. To ensure the orthotics dry out properly we recommend you remove them from the shoes overnight. This allows them to dry out better to kill the odour-causing bacteria.
If you are particularly prone to sweaty feet then it can be useful to have two pairs of orthotics and alternate the orthotics and shoes each day so that you aren’t wearing the same pair of shoes and orthotics over consecutive days.
Another effective method for eliminating odour from the orthotics is to dust the top of the orthotic with either talcum power or baking powder. Leave the orthotics to sit for a few hours or overnight and then dust off the excess powder in the morning. A soft vacuum head or a brush will help to remove the excess powder. These powders help to remove excess moisture and kill the bacteria.
Do my orthotics need to be adjusted?
At Entire Podiatry we recommend you have your orthotics assessed every 12 months to review their progress. As your feet change your orthotics may also need to be changed or modified.
There are 4 main reasons why orthotic adjustments may be required:
Occasionally you may find the orthotic causes pain or discomfort. For example if the orthotic is too high in the arch you may notice pain or irritation here. If this is the case the orthotic will need to be modified to reduce the pressure in the arch.
You may find the orthotics comfortable but may continue to have the same symptoms. There may be orthotic adjustments required that will further reduce your symptoms. For example if you were to feel pain in the heel while wearing the orthotics then a softer material can be added to the orthotic to increase the cushioning.
This is not very common but in this circumstance you may find the orthotics are comfortable and are relieving your pain, but a new pain has now developed. For example, patients may develop knee or back pain when they wear the new orthotics when they originally received treatment for arch pain. A modification in the orthotic design may be required.
The orthotics and the shoes need to complement each other. Your orthotics would have been designed with a particular type of shoe in mind. If the orthotics are not fitting well in the shoe or if you are planning on changing the type of shoe you will be wearing with your orthotics then they may need to be adjusted. The orthotics may need to be modified in order to achieve a suitable fit and to ensure they are providing the appropriate amount of support.
If you would like to have your orthotics assessed for an adjustment or modification, simply make an appointment with one of our Podiatrists. We can assess your orthotics and prescribe adjustments or modifications that may be necessary to improve their function.
Depending on the adjustment required, we may be able to do this on-the-spot with equipment that we have onsite at all of our clinic locations. More extensive adjustments may require us to send your orthotics to a specialised laboratory for a short time.
Do my orthotics need to be replaced?
Foot orthotics have a finite lifespan and will likely need to be replaced after a certain amount of time. How long they will last depends how often they are worn, the activity for which they are worn, the material they are made from and if the feet are growing.
The shell of the orthotic can have a 2-4 year lifespan. But this will depend on how much they are worn. For example, an athlete who wears orthotics while running a hundred kilometres a week will find that they will wear out faster than a patient who wears them for causal use.
Most orthotics will have a cover over the shell. This material protects the shell and provides cushioning. The orthotic covers typically have a shorter lifespan than the orthotic shell. Their lifespan will also depend on how often and for what activity the orthotics are worn as well as factors such as the type of material used, if the patient has sweaty feet, if socks are usually worn and so on.
As the orthotics begin to wear you may lose some of the original support. This may cause a recurrence of your symptoms or a general feeling of ‘tired feet’. With time the cushioned feel of the orthotics may wear down. This can cause the orthotics to feel harder under the feet, which can lead to pain.
Each orthotic is designed and created in a specific way to improve your foot function and address pain. As the orthotics wear down they lose their supportive feel and may also fail to promote optimal functioning of your feet. This can cause problems higher up the body and may affect your knees and hips.
Not sure if your orthotics need replacing or an adjustment?
If you already have orthotics but you aren’t sure whether they need to be replaced or modified, you can evaluate your current orthotics by asking yourself the following questions:
- Are your orthotics comfortable to wear?
- Do your orthotics relieve the symptoms they were intended to relieve?
- Do your orthotics fit easily into all shoes you would like to wear them with?
If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, follow-up with a podiatrist to see what can be done to improve the function of your orthotics. It may be possible to make adjustments to your existing orthotics, however your podiatrist will be able to advise you further on this.
The podiatrists at Entire Podiatry are very skilled at adjusting and troubleshooting orthotics. We provide honest assessments of your orthotics and will always aim to provide the best advice and treatment. We are happy to work with your pre-existing orthotics if possible. Our ultimate goal is to provide our patients with the best orthotic therapy to achieve optimum outcomes.