When it comes to your feet and comfort, you shouldn’t just trust them with anyone. Most people will get advice on off the shelf orthotics from their local shoe store as they try on a new pair of shoes. Whether the shoes are for running or walking, having the right orthotics is essential.
However, if the gait analysis is incorrect, advice from these stores can cause problems. It can even cause significant discomfort and possible injury. Your best bet is always to seek the professional advice of a podiatrist when it comes to your feet so they can prescribe orthotics that are best suited for your needs.
Finding options for people with a flat foot, high arches, plantar fasciitis, running injuries, and other related conditions that don’t break the bank is a challenge. Let’s explore these options, the science of orthotics, and the costs involved to get you up and running again!
Pros and Cons of Custom Orthotics?
If you’ve been considering orthotics or arch supports to help correct your flat foot or high arches, you may be wondering if it is worth the money. Health-related purchases can be tricky at times. It’s essential to look at the various aspects of the purchase, including product options, advantages, disadvantages, alternatives, and longevity. Along with all of these aspects to consider, the cost is also a factor.
The primary function of custom orthotics is to help keep the bones in your feet, ankles, and knees adequately positioned for an active and healthy lifestyle. With orthotics, you can achieve this by adjusting the angle and height of the support with a built-up arch and slanted heel to suit various surfaces you walk on daily.
But it also involves the way the material resists the pressure placed on them. Some reported advantages are:
- It reduces muscle fatigue. As the connective tissues are supported, there is less fatigue in those areas. If this tissue goes unsupported, you’ll lose stability, which could lead to over-pronation and fallen arches.
- Orthotics provide support for active people. Orthotics have long had a history with sports and active lifestyles. They assist those who are involved in high endurance sports, strength training, and overall performance.
- It can help support people with weight problems. Orthotics are invaluable to overweight people because they can help reduce the impact on the ligaments of their lower bodies.
- It can help to reduce pain. Custom orthotics can help those with arthritis, diabetes, and chronic pain by improving gait and reducing muscle and ligament strain.
- Orthotic solutions can help to increase mobility. Custom orthotics improve mobility by relieving the discomfort of ordinary movement experienced by people suffering from foot problems.
When it comes to looking at options for custom orthotics, price is one of the most significant factors. In addition to the cost factor, here are some other things to keep in mind when making your purchase:
- May hamper rather than help. According to some doctors, prolonged use of orthotics can cause more harm than solve problems. If used for extended periods, orthotics will take the brunt of the stresses, which means that areas like the knee, ankle and foot may actually become weakened over time by receiving more support than necessary.
- Ongoing costs. Having custom orthotics is not a one-time purchase. As you age, your feet change, which means that you will need to update your orthopedics continually. It will become necessary to regularly visit your podiatrist, who will check your foot, ankle, and knee alignment. Without these visits, you won’t be sure if your orthotics are still fitting correctly.
- Delivery delays. It may take up to two weeks or longer before you finally receive your custom orthotics. It could make for a very long and painful wait for someone suffering from problems that require custom orthopedics.
- It may not work. There is a chance that after spending all that time and money, the custom orthotics might not give you relief to your foot and ankle problems. To prevent this, do thorough research and see a reputable professional like Birmingham Foot Care Specialists.
Why Are Custom Orthotics so Costly?
Did you know that the actual manufacturing costs of custom orthotics typically come to around $100 or less? You may wonder why custom orthotics are so costly? There is more involved to having properly made custom orthotics than just the orthotic itself.
Before you begin making a custom orthotic purchase, it is best to talk to your podiatrist so they can break down the various costs for you. Let’s explore some of the factors that make up the costs of custom orthotics:
A podiatrist should perform a thorough examination of your legs. It should include your legs, knee, ankle, and foot and the gait of your walk. They also examine your body type through various methods, including an x-ray, a run on a treadmill, and other tests that will rule out other potential health reasons for the foot pain. In addition to a thorough evaluation of your foot’s health, they may also ask questions about your diet and lifestyle.
The footcare specialist will make an exact impression of your foot by using a cast. These casts are usually a non-weight bearing mold of the foot so that the custom orthotic support fits the foot perfectly.
The process to make a cast of your foot is painless and straightforward. The podiatrist will have you sit as they wrap your feet with wet plaster strips. The plaster will harden, and when it is removed, it will leave a perfect impression.
Another way to make an impression of your foot is by a method using a stomp box. A stomp box is a container filled with a material you step into with your body weight to form an imprint.
Just like any other business, orthotics also comes with a price mark-up. In this industry, the mark-up covers:
- The casting and mold-making materials.
- The examination with the podiatrist.
- Any equipment (such as an x-ray) used during the examination.
- The final orthotics.
If you are not insured, it is best to consult with the podiatrist first to find out the total costs involved. These costs could range from $100 and up. It could get pricey, especially if the total price does not include an x-ray or other equipment. Health insurance plans typically pay most of the costs for a podiatrist visit, but it is always best to make sure, so you’re not overwhelmed with a whopping bill!
Off-the-Shelf Orthotic Alternatives
Some people prefer a visit to the podiatrist for a pair of custom orthotics. At the same time, others claim that off-the-shelf orthotics (or standard orthotics) can do just as good of a job without the added costs involved. With the high price tag of custom orthotics, is it a wonder that people seek cheaper but effective alternatives?
But you have to ask yourself if going the route of custom orthotics makes a big enough difference for the health of your feet or if you can get the same relief with an off-the-shelf orthotic.
Here are the main reasons why some prefer off-the-shelf orthotic shoe inserts as an alternative over custom orthotics:
- Cost. When it comes to price, the off-the-shelf orthotics will be considerably less expensive. Since these orthotics fit most shoes, many consider buying multiple pairs.
- Variety. Although there is a massive variety of options with off-the-shelf orthotics, finding the perfect fit can be tricky. You could get lucky and find the suitable material, softness or hardness, and the ideal size, but it’s not always that simple. It may even take several purchases before you find the right fit.
- Easy to fit. Off-the-shelf varieties are sold by shoe size, which means that you should be able to find the size that fits your shoe perfectly. But, what if you are in between sizes or one foot is larger than the other, which is the case with most people? You’ll have to trim ready-made orthotics to shorten the length or width for better fitting orthotic arch support.
- Convenient. Over-the-counter orthotics for running shoes or regular shoes are available in most stores or online shopping sites. Ordering them is just a click away or a short drive to your local store. It could take minutes, but if you don’t get a good fit, you’ll have to keep going back.
While getting pre-made orthotics may help you to avoid the cost and time of seeing an orthopedic physician, the associated risks may not be worth it. Consulting a professional is always your best bet.
A qualified foot specialist will also ensure that your foot problem is not because of another health concern not associated with the feet, instead of providing orthotic assistance where you may not need it. Problems such as heel pain, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, foot flexibility, back pain, Achilles tendinitis, and more may be related to another underlying health condition and pre-made foot orthotics may be masking this condition.
A reputable podiatrist will provide a thorough examination or recommend an orthopedic surgeon or a physical therapist to properly assess your condition to uncover the condition causing pain for your feet.
Foot Orthotics – Getting Off On The Right Foot
Are custom orthotics right for you? The only way to know for sure is to trust your instincts. Pain exists to tell you if there is something wrong with your body. Orthotics may be the way to go to get relief, but a proper diagnosis is always recommended to make sure it isn’t another health concern.
If you try the orthotic and it feels strange when walking or running, the chances are that it may not prevent future injuries or discomfort. Orthotics can be costly, and off-the-shelf varieties may not work. Still, if you suffer from any foot-related problem, Birmingham Foot Care Specialists can help you find the resources you need to make the best-informed decisions with the care of your health.
Reach out today for more information about your health and orthotics.