What are foot orthoses and how do they work?
Uncomfortable feet can really restrict one’s lifestyle and can cause a lot of distress. Foot orthoses are devices that are worn in shoes either to change the way the foot works whilst walking, to provide cushioning or to reduce load on painful areas of the feet. They are also used to address pains outside of the foot, such as ankle, knee, hip and back pain. There are many different types. They can be full length, ¾ length or in between. They are also made for different sports and different footwear. People often ask ‘will they fit into all my shoes?’. The short answer is no. There are orthoses for casual shoes, high heels, ladies’ footwear, sports shoes, sandals etc. There are also different types for high arches, low arches, rigid feet, hypermobile feet and for different sports. Many issues have to be taken into account before embarking on wearing orthoses such as range of motion in the joints of the feet, age, asymmetry, symptoms, pathology, balance and may more. It is very important to seek professional advice before purchasing orthoses.
Do We Offer Digital Gait Analysis or Digitally Designed Orthoses?
This is a question often asked. We do not offer digital analysis. The reason for this is that our clinical observation is more accurate. At Feet First Simon Duck and Jenney Klose are experienced in the field of biomechanics and orthoses prescription writing. Prior to deciding what sort of orthoses device is appropriate for any particular client, a thorough and in depth analysis of the limbs, feet and gait is carried out which looks at the cause of the problem, joint flexibility and medical conditions that may be contributing.
Foot orthoses come in all shapes and sizes:
- Fully bespoke (custom) – These are designed specifically for the patient. A mould is taken of their feet. The prescription written by the podiatrist and is dependant on measurements and observation and need. This is sent to a laboratory for manufacture. These are the most accurate and supportive type of orthoses and last much longer than other types of orthoses.
- Semi-bespoke – These are made in the clinic at Feet First by the podiatrist. A decision is made as to what type of orthoses the patient needs to support their feet and a temporary vacuum mould is made on our innovative equipment. The chosen orthoses template is then heat moulded and placed into the vacuum mould to make a device that is bespoke to the patient. This is then modified by the podiatrist to fit into the patient’s footwear.
- Over-the-counter (OTC) or readymade – There are many different types of OTC orthoses that are used. The podiatrist may decide to supply one of these depending on the symptoms of the patient and the amount of correction that is needed to improve their symptoms. They will often add various additions to create a prescription specifically for the patient.
Can I buy them online?
There are literally hundreds of options online and some of them do work well but you could end up purchasing several before you find anything that makes a difference. They may make a difference but they may not provide the full support needed. This can be a costly experience. Some patients arrive in the clinic with a bag full of orthoses they have purchased online and none of them making any difference. This is not ideal; it is far better to see a podiatrist who can prescribe the correct type for you in the first place and then monitor your progress, making changes and adjustments as needed.
Podiatrists are specialists in prescribing orthoses.
We do not sell them to anyone without having had an assessment and we only prescribe orthoses if there is a need for them.
It may be necessary to be referred on to a different health professional such as a physiotherapist or doctor.