What are Foot Orthotics?

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  • Written By: Sandra Koehler
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 December 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
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Foot orthotics are devices used to support or correct musculoskeletal deformities. Musculoskeletal deformities are problems with the muscles and the skeletal system. Orthotics are foot-supporting devices that allow the muscles, tendons and ligaments to function at their highest potential. They are also used to decrease pain symptoms of deformity.

Since the foot is the major weight-bearing part of the body, structural or muscular imbalances and deformities can cause pain. This pain can travel into the ankles, knees, legs and even the back. Correction of these abnormal issues through the use of foot orthotics can greatly increase your mobility while decreasing pain symptoms.

Many people utilize orthotics without ever realizing it by simply adding a gel or cushioned insert to your shoes. These over-the-counter inserts provide stability, comfort and proper positioning of the foot. They can also provide relief of pain symptoms of the foot, legs and back.

People who suffer from abnormalities of the muscles or bones, however, may need a custom foot orthotic. These specialized inserts can be provided by physicians, physical therapists, and podiatrists. In most cases an orthotist, a specialist in foot orthotics, is called in to assure proper fitting and use of these inserts.


Typically, with customized foot orthotics, a plaster mold is made of the foot in the position desired. The healthcare team decides on the type of orthotic required. Then the insert is crafted from the mold and inserted into the shoe.

There are several types of foot orthotics. A soft foot orthotics helps absorb shock, improve balance and take pressure off of tender areas. Hard or rigid orthotics, on the other hand, help control movement and function. These inserts often help to reduce pain in the foot, legs and low back caused by foot abnormalities. There is also a semi-rigid insert, commonly used for athletes. A semi-rigid insert allows for dynamic movement with guidance through proper movement.

Other types of foot orthotics includes calibrated and proprioceptive orthotics. Calibrated foot orthotics consider individual circumstances such as weight, flexibility of foot and activity level. It is then calibrated to deliver a specific amount of support dependent on activity. Proprioceptive orthotics are designed to work with proprioception. Proprioception is the body’s way of knowing where the body is in space and how it reacts to stimulus. These orthotic devices are designed to alter how the foot hits the ground. They are typically thin and flexible and allow the foot to move freely and naturally. They can reduce or eliminate pain.



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