What are Orthotics?
Orthotics are custom made inserts for your shoes that can help with a number of foot problems. They are usually prescribed by a podiatrist in order to reduce pain and discomfort caused by an injury, plantar fasciitis, or a bone abnormality. They’re basically shoe inserts that can improve your overall posture and gait and help reduce foot pain and other symptoms.
Orthotics are made from various materials such as Subortholen, polypropylene, copolymer, and carbon graphite composites are all excellent choices. Some are also made of cork, latex foam, leather, plastic, and rubber.
In the past, they were mostly made from wood and fabric. In fact, some of the earliest orthotics used for treating diabetes and other foot problems date back to ancient Egypt. These were called Papyrus Insoles.
With today’s technology, it’s possible to create custom orthotics with whatever material you choose in whatever shape works best for your foot. However, the choice of material will affect their lifespan.
Orthotics are manufactured to exact specifications and are made individually based on the patient’s needs. They are flexible insoles that will have both foam and polyester layers. Orthotics are often impregnated with special chemicals that help deal with the odor and make them more rugged and durable.
The foam in orthotics comes in two forms: ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) and polyether.
Types of Orthotics
There are known to be three types of orthotics. Soft orthotics can add extra cushioning and may be helpful to athletes who frequently jump during sporting activities. Patients who have flat feet may find that wearing semi-rigid insoles can help to add stability while performing daily functions. Rigid orthotics may be recommended to patients who have limited control over their feet, resulting from a neurological illness.
If you have any questions about these three types of orthotics, it is suggested that you consult with a podiatrist who can provide you with orthotics that are right for you.
The orthotics are custom-made and semi-custom-made, or off-the-shelf.
Custom-made orthotics are made from a set of casts taken off your feet. When they are initially made, they will be too big (which is normal).
You will use them for a few days to allow your feet to adjust to them.
As your feet change, the orthotics will be remolded several times before they are considered the correct size. They can last years if well taken care of.
Semi-custom-made orthotics are also made from casts, but they don’t have to be as accurate as custom ones. Like custom orthotics, semi-customs will also be refitted several times before they are the correct size. They, too, can last for a couple of years with good care.
Orthotics also come in a wide variety of over-the-counter inserts to treat foot pain, heel pain, and minor problems. For example, arch supports can be inserted into your shoes to help correct overarched or flat feet. At the same time, gel insoles are often used because they provide comfort and relief from foot and heel pain by alleviating pressure.
What are Insoles and Inserts?
Insoles and inserts are the same things. They are the products that you can find in pharmacies and other healthcare shops. They are usually made of a soft gel material and may also have other forms of foam or plastic if they are designed to address a specific problem, e.g., fallen arches.
For instance, if you are using insoles for dance, the activity-specific insoles are best because they are shock absorbent and made of material with the right kind of traction to suit the activity.
Always make sure that your insoles are of good quality. The material will determine the comfort you get, how long they last, and how long you can use them before they wear out. Taking good care of your insoles is also essential if you want them to last long.
How Long Do They Last?
The lifespan of an orthotic or insole depends on the materials, your weight, and your activity level.
The materials will differ based on the manufacturer and what the orthotic is made of. For example, rigid plastic or carbon fiber will endure the test of time up to a year, while soft material may need to be changed every three to six months.
Orthotic inserts typically last two to three years, but less active people may have inserts lasting a few months more than average.
The same goes for more active people. Very active people can find inserts that wear out sooner than expected, depending on the intensity of their activity. It is recommended that insoles be replaced as soon as they show signs of wear.
Most of the insoles and orthotics last around six months to two years. That means that you can use them for at least that long before they wear out. You can use them even longer if you take good care of them.
Taking proper care of insoles will ensure they will last at least the expected lifetime, if not more. You can clean the insoles in two different ways. One way is to use a damp cloth to wipe out the accumulated dirt. The other one is to use shoe care spray cleaners. I would suggest that you don’t soak them in water.
Tips on When to Replace Insoles and Orthotics
The orthotics and insoles you wear to help your feet will not last forever. You need to know how long they will last so you can replace them in time. Sometimes, the insoles and orthotics can't be told apart, but if you know how to identify them, you will tell if it is getting closer to time to replace them. Usually, your orthotics and insoles will last for a couple of years, but they may not last that long. After you have worn them for a while, you will notice them start to wear. This could happen as early as three months into wearing them, or it could happen up to a year afterward. Of course, this is not true of all insoles and orthotics.
There are many reasons they wear out, and there are a few ways you can prevent it. First, make sure you use new insoles and orthotics in new shoes. Your shoes must fit perfectly. Otherwise, the impact on them will make them wear out sooner than expected. For example, too big shoes will force you to walk on the balls of your feet, which wears out the insoles faster. You can also keep your insoles and orthotics in good shape by getting arch supports for your shoes to wear with them. Wearing these supports will distribute your feet’s pressure across more of the foot’s surface instead of only on the arch of your foot. Keep your insoles and orthotics clean so they don't smell foul and ask for a replacement before time.
Examining insoles and orthotics’ appearance and the basic fit is essential for your orthotics and insole assessment. You should look for the condition of the insole if it's still well constructed with a sturdy base. Look for cracks or frays. One should not ignore the excessive discoloration as this indicates a failing material.
When it comes to a proper fit, you want to avoid excessive or loose movement at the ball of the foot. If your insoles are worn out, they will no longer accommodate the natural movement of the foot. If you notice this problem, it is of paramount importance to consider replacing your old insole with a new one.
Broken or worn-out insoles are not good for your health. After some time, the damage can be so extensive that you’d be better off just getting a new pair before the current ones turn into a breeding ground for infection.
The earlier you get a replacement, the better off you’ll be.
Your orthotics and insoles may be smelling pretty bad, even if you don’t notice it. But trust me, they do. If you have noticed it, it’s always a good idea to understand why they smell and what you can do about it.
The reason why they smell is that they are full of sweat and bacteria. While that might sound gross, it’s completely normal. You sweat, and bacteria thrive in warm and moist environments. They are increasing because they get what they like, so there is not much we can do about it.
Always keep your insoles clean and wipe them with a damp cloth and leave them in the air or the sun for some time to kill bacteria and dry out the sweat. Never wear the same pair of insoles or shoes for two days in a row.
Orthotics are insoles that are specially made to provide comfort and orthopedic support for foot problems. They are made using different materials with the base being made of polyether foam, nylon, or other synthetic and fabric materials. There is a top layer of fabric that absorbs sweat and increases wearability.
Depending on your needs, orthotics can be made to fit in one shoe or for both feet. They are commonly used in running shoes to avoid injuries and support the arch and heel. They can also be used to improve the quality of life for people suffering from arthritis and flat feet.
With wear and tear, the orthotics will lose their structure and shape, and they won't be of any benefit; instead, they can cause pain and aggravate the foot condition for which you were recommended to use insoles or orthotics.
Foot Problems or Pain
Our feet need a lot of different kinds of support throughout the day. Whether we are on our feet at work, running around with the kids, or just hitting the gym, our feet can take a beating.
Our feet support our entire weight, absorbing much of the shock and impact from each step. Also, when it’s time to relax, it’s our feet that take the pressure off our legs.
Given all this pressure, our feet have taken a pretty good beating over the years, and they need a lot of help to keep them functioning the way they should.
One way we can help with this is with orthotics and insoles. They provide support and cushioning for all the different areas of our feet and help us feel better and do better throughout each day.
But if the orthotics or insoles don't fit well or have worn out, they will no longer serve the desired purpose. They might become the reason for pain and discomfort in the foot. When you feel that your insole or orthotics is no longer serving the purpose and offering the support and comfort they used to, it's time to replace them.
As you can see, your insole or orthotics is fundamental for proper foot performance. It’s the connection between your body and your feet. If your insole or orthotics is damaged or insufficient, it will no longer serve the purpose and affect your game performance and lead to injuries.
That’s why it’s essential to do a regular foot analysis and, if needed, to adjust your support level. We recommend you do this every few months and follow your podiatrist's advice if you’re having problems.