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What are Orthotic Insoles?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Orthotic insoles are products which are designed to be inserted into shoes for the purpose of providing support or correction for the feet and legs. A number of types of orthotic insoles are available, including off the shelf products carried at many drug stores and some shoe stores, along with custom products which are fitted by an orthotics specialist or podiatrist. There are a number of reasons to wear such products, and they can be very beneficial when they are worn properly.

Off the rack orthotic insoles are usually designed to provide cushioning and shock absorption for the foot. A good product will come with padding which can be adjusted to make the insole more comfortable, and over time, the insert will conform to the foot of the user to create optimal support. These products are sometimes used by walkers and runners to increase comfort, and they can also be worn by people who spend a lot of time on their feet, like nurses and waiters. Some off the rack orthotic insoles also provide gait correction, although a special fitting may be needed to make sure that the insoles are being worn properly.

Custom products are designed by a specialist to meet the needs of the wearer. Custom orthotic insoles are much more expensive, but they also offer may more benefits. They are molded to the feet of the user, and they can be used to correct gait, relieve strain on the joints of the feet and legs, address physical abnormalities, and support the feet and legs as they heal from an injury. Custom orthotics can also support the spine and other areas of the upper body.

Custom inserts for the shoes may be designed for someone with a congenital disability or abnormality, providing support or correction to help that person function more normally. They can also be used as part of a physical therapy regimen to help someone recover from an injury, or to support an athlete who may be prone to injury. Custom orthotics can also be fitted to people who have jobs which could potentially endanger the feet and legs.

Using inserts to provide orthotic support can be supplemented by wearing orthotic footwear. One of the advantages of inserts is that they can be worn with a wide range of shoes, which can allow someone to receive orthotic support without compromising personal style, a dress code, or other needs. Insoles are usually less costly to purchase than entire sets of orthotic footwear, and they can be used to outfit an entire shoe collection, allowing the user access to a range of shoes rather than limiting him or her to a few pairs of orthotic shoes.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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