Orthotics FAQ’s

What are orthotics?

We went to Vancouver Podiatrist Dr. Joseph Stern and asked this question. Custom orthotics are a functional and correctional device to help in prevention and treatment of injuries, biomechanical abnormalities and anatomical misalignment. The re-alignment of the muscles, tendons and joints allows the foot to be more efficient. If the bones are not in proper alignment there can be stress placed on the tendons and joints that, if left untreated, can lead to problems in your feet, back or hips. To minimize, stop or even reverse these problems the foot needs to be placed in a neutral position. The neutral position is attained with the use of custom orthotics, which are placed by hand into the foot bed of your shoe and can be easily removed and used in other shoes.

What is the difference between the orthotics you buy over the counter and the ones that are custom made for your feet?

Store bought orthotics are known as over the counter arch supports (OTC). These are accommodative devices that provide some cushioning and minimal control. OTC are not specific to one’s foot, but they are a starting point to establish if an insert is helpful. In creating a custom orthotic, a Podiatrist will examine your lower extremities (hips and knees), provide you with a gait analysis and complete a biomechanical analysis of your feet. This examination includes an examination of your foot’s range of motion of your foot including muscle strength and foot positioning.

Will it take me time to get use to the orthotics?

Orthotics require a period of adjustment. Start by wearing them on an easy 20-30 minute walk. Once you’re comfortable walking in your orthotics you can begin wearing them for 10-15 minutes during an easy run and gradually increase your running time by 5-10 minutes. As you break in your orthotics it can cause a variety of pain in your feet, ankles, knees, legs, hips or back. If this is the case, please see your podiatrist or pedorthist for a possible modification to your orthotic.

Should I bring my orthotics with me when I buy running shoes?

When you purchase new runners, be sure to try them on with your orthotics. You want to make sure the orthotics don’t slip around in your runners. They should fit snuggly into the shoe.

How long do custom made orthotics last?

Most orthotics will last 5-6 years, but the additional padding can be changed when needed.


Excerpts taken from: Marathon & Half-marathon: A Beginner’s Guide, Greystone Books, 2006

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