By Emily Gilbert
Ever had a long day on your feet? Maybe it’s a day of running errands. Or maybe it’s working or attending an event. If you’ve been standing all day, sometimes it feels great to finally get home and take off your shoes.
But if you have experienced foot pain along the way, it may be time to consider orthotics.
What are orthotics?
Custom orthotics are inserts for your shoes. Created from an imprint of your feet, they help your feet move the way they’re supposed to. They provide arch support and evenly distribute pressure while you’re standing, walking or any other activity on your feet. Orthotics also work to keep joints in your feet aligned.
“We aren’t perfectly symmetrical,” says Mike Gaspar. He’s the co-founder & Chief Operating Officer of HealthCasa, a company that offers chiropody and podiatry services.
According to Gaspar, a well-made pair of orthotics will help position feet in a neutral, stable position. This is also the position to cast for orthotics. Correct positioning helps with stability and reduces pain in your feet, as well as addressing other related issues.
How do I know if I need orthotics?
“Most people can benefit from orthotics, but not everyone needs them,” says Gaspar. His advice: listen to your body. “Pain is not normal,” he says. “If you find yourself with toe pain, forefoot or arch pain, or even back pain, orthotics may help. But your first step is to get a professional’s opinion, like a chiropodist.”
He also says that genetics play a big role in foot health. People whose parents or grandparents had foot issues may also have similar experiences. The Ontario Society of Chiropodists says orthotics are prescribed to hold your feet in the right position. This helps your feet move more efficiently and helps eliminate pain.
Getting the right orthotics for you
There are different types of orthotics, according to the Canadian Podiatric Medical Association. A provider that prescribes custom orthotics can help you determine the right type. “Make sure you go to a health-care practitioner that takes the time to learn about you, your foot conditions, and your lifestyle in order to get the best end product,” Gaspar says.
“Understanding things like your regular activities, and the frequency and intensity of them, is an important part of choosing the specific design elements of your orthotics,” Gaspar explains.
“For example, how often do you sit versus stand? What type of physical activities do you do? What type of shoes do you usually wear? The answers will all play a role in creating orthotics that work as effectively as possible for you.”
When it comes to specific activities, Gaspar says you can even get orthotics created especially for certain sports. Basketball, skiing, golf and tennis are just a few examples.
Should I wear orthotics all the time?
“Wearing orthotics is like wearing glasses,” Gaspar says, “If you wear them, they help you out. If you don’t, they don’t.”
“Of course, there’s a lifestyle component to everything,” he notes. “There may be situations where it’s not possible or preferable to wear orthotics.”
During a recent trip to Mexico, for example, he left his orthotics in his room. He opted for flip-flops at the beach instead.
Gaspar notes that the key question to ask yourself is “Am I in pain?” Orthotics won’t correct your feet over time, but they can help alleviate pain you would otherwise experience without them.
What do orthotics cost?
Gaspar says the cost of orthotics can vary.
“Orthotics can range in price from $300 to $750. In my experience, most clinics charge approximately $500,” he says.
For a second pair though, it’s usually possible to get a lower price. That’s because the cast of your foot would have already been made, and the assessment has already been done.
Think you might need orthotics? Find a podiatrist, chiropodist, or custom orthotics supplier right in your neighbourhood using Lumino Health.
Written in consultation with Mike Gaspar, co-founder & Chief Operating Officer of HealthCasa.