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What are Foot Orthotics?

What are foot orthotics? Information for patients and carers

Orthotics are also sometimes known as insoles, shoe inserts, arch supports or orthoses. They are special devices that you wear in your shoe to restore the natural function of the foot during walking and help relieve pain, minimise foot stress or redistribute pressure.

  • Why do I need orthotics?

    Your podiatrist has given you your orthotics to help with your foot problem.
    Many common foot complaints such as flat feet, heel pain, hard skin, corns and bunions, as well as certain types of leg and back pain are caused by imbalances in the foot, leg and spine. Biomechanics is the science that studies the body’s movements during standing, walking and running. The most common imbalance in foot biomechanics is over-pronation, sometimes known as flat feet or fallen arches. This can often lead to painful conditions like heel pain, heel spurs, plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia. Overweight people may put additional stress on their feet.
    Orthotics will benefit people with special needs such as the elderly, or those with conditions such as diabetes or arthritis, who need extra cushioning and support in their shoes. Children are frequently given orthotics to wear to help with various foot and walking problems.

    Orthotics also help people who must walk or stand excessively, or are active in sports. They can also work in a preventative manner to avoid the development of future foot problems.

  • What do I need to know before I wear the orthotics?

    Ensure you have been seen by a podiatrist or orthotist to fit them into your shoe, particularly the first time you are given them.

    Ensure they are worn in the correct right and left shoes.

    Ensure you have enough space to wear them in your shoes without squeezing your feet or toes.

    Always wear well-fitting socks or tights to protect your skin.

    Ensure you break them in slowly as advised at issue.

    They are generally not suitable for slippers or sandals unless specifically made for this purpose.

  • How do I use the orthotics?
    1. Place each right and left orthotic in the correct shoe.
    2. Ensure the orthotic sits neatly at the back of the shoe heel cup area and it lies flat into the front of the shoe without being creased or raised.
    3. Place your feet into your shoes as normal, without pushing the orthotic forward. Ensure your heel and arch sit correctly onto the moulded shape of the orthotic.
    4. Follow the wearing guidelines below:

    Day 1: 15 minutes to 1 hour or until sore anywhere (within the hour).

    Day 2: 15 minutes to 2 hours or until sore anywhere (within the 2 hours).

    Day 3: 2-4 hours (or until uncomfortable)

    Day 4: 2-4 hours (or until uncomfortable)

    Day 5: 2-4 hours (or until uncomfortable)

    Day 6: 2-4 hours (or until uncomfortable)

    Day 7: 2-4 hours (or until uncomfortable)

    Week 2: 4-6 hours or until uncomfortable

    Week 3: 6-8 hours

    Week 4: gradually increase time worn comfortably until worn all day


  • Care

    Check your shoes and feet regularly when wearing the orthotics.

    If you have lost any feeling in your feet or have poor circulation, take EXTRA CARE.

    Inspect your feet after each initial breaking in period, for signs on redness, rubbing or blisters.

    Contact your podiatrist if any concerns.

    It is normal to feel a lump in the arch area initially. This should disappear in a few days.

    If your feet become sore during the breaking in period, please remove your orthotics for the rest of the day. Restart the process again the next day.

    Stop wearing if you have any worsening pain or onset of new pressure points.

    Your orthotist or podiatrist will have advised you of suitable shoes that will accommodate your orthotic without squeezing your feet.

    Ensure you secure your adjustable straps or laces snugly to stop your feet slipping in the shoe.

    With moderate use your insoles should last about 12 months.

    Remove regularly from your shoe to check for signs of wear and tear. Bring to your podiatrist to be repaired.

    Cleaning: The orthotic is only suitable for wiping down with a damp or antimicrobial cloth.

  • What will happen if I don’t wear my orthotics?

    It is unlikely that your pain or problem will improve because foot orthotics help to align the imbalances in the foot and leg which initially can cause the problems.

  • Review appointments

    You will be given an appointment or a telephone review to see how you are getting on with your orthotics.

    Please remember to bring them and the shoes you normally wear them in, with you to be checked at each appointment review.