Orthotics or Not? That is the question...

Call them orthotics, orthoses, inserts, insoles, or foot-beds. But call them something! Are they good? Are they bad? Are they needed? Are they worth it in expensive running shoes?

Not many of us were blessed with perfect feet. According to studies, fewer than 10% of the world population has what is considered a "normal" foot; the rest of us could use a little help to balance our foot, and best stabilize our body.

Your feet are the base of support for your skeleton, so they may affect your entire body if they are tilted, or off-balance, even just a little bit. Think of what would happen to a sky-scraper if its base was off just a little.

Foot Types

Pronated Feet Probably the most common of all foot problems. A pronated foot simply means the foot has a fallen or collapsed arch. This foot is often mistaken as a "flat foot," mistaken because the foot is really flat, it just flattens when there is weight on it. Correcting a pronated foot may not be as simple as it seems. We shouldn't half-haphazardly assume the arch is weak and throw an arch support in. Maybe the heel itself is unstable, or some muscles are tight and pulling the arch down. Perhaps the leg is rotated at the knee, or hip, or even both--causing the foot to overcompensate.      In any case, such deformity creates mal-alignment at the foot and ankle, but also adds undue stress at the knee, hip, pelvis and back. Orthotics may be indicated as a form of injury prevention in patients that have moderate to severe foot pronation and perform high levels of weight bearing activity. For a runner, these problems may be accelerated!

Flat Feet True flat feet do not have in arch whether you are standing, sitting, or lying down, but this doesn't necessarily mean you need orthotics. Many people who have flat feet never develop an injury associated with their foot posture. Usually orthotics are only indicated when a patient presents with abnormal lower limb biomechanics AND they have an injury that is related to their poor biomechanics. Occasionally orthotics may be indicated as a form of injury prevention in patients with flat feet, especially if they have moderate to severe foot pronation and perform high levels of weight bearing activity.

Supinated Feet Do you wear out the outside border of you shoes? You may be a supinator, and your foot doesn't move through its normal range of motion. Supinated feet typically have reduced shock absorption capacity which translates to increased stress on many structures of the lower limb, pelvis and spine. As a result patients with supinated feet may require the use of orthotics that offer cushioning particularly if their abnormal foot biomechanics are contributing to the development of an injury.

High Arches, or Rigid Feet Some people have arches so high and rigid that when they put their feet on the ground, the middle of their foot doesn't move. Their feet lack shock attenuation, and have less base of support, so less stability. Their toes may scrunch up in effort to "hold on for support," called hammer toe deformity. Orthotics may be indicated to provide additional cushioning to prevent pain, bruising, or breakdown.

CAUTION! The Wet-Foot Test may NOT be accurate This test is sometimes performed at running shoe stores, and often recommended as a self assessment tool, however, it may not give you accurate results. Basically, you are instructed to wet your feet, take a few steps and look at the imprint made by your feet, and compare the shape of your foot. The problem with this test is it doesn't show mobility. It doesn't compare your non-weight bearing imprint to the weight bearing one. You may high arches in non-weight bearing, and moderate arches when standing. Your imprint may not detect the collapse. A "neutral shoe" would be recommended by the simple wet-foot test, but might NOT be the best shoe - as recommended by a specialist.

We perform comprehensive examinations to determine the cause of your pain/injury. We discuss recommendations for a treatment plan that will best fit your goals. We will be happy to discuss the benefits of custom orthotics, semi-custom insoles, or shoe modifications, based upon our assessment.



Bunions, or Hallux Valgus, are one of the most commonly experienced toe/foot problems. It is easily recognized by the deformity - the big toe migrates toward the rest of the foot. The bunion is the reaction of the imbalance, and is caused by improper mechanics, systemic disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, or prolonged wear of improperly fitting shoes. If caused by over-pronation, orthotics can prevent a bunion from getting worse. Over-pronation causes you to propel your foot "push-off" from the inside of your toe. This places pressure and irritation on that part of the foot, and eventually causes bunion formation.

Injuries and Conditions

Plantar fasciitis, bunions, shin splints, posterior tibial tendon insufficiency, patella femoral pain disorder, iliotibial band syndrome, chondromalacia, sacroiliac joint dysfunction, and low back pain are some injuries that may be helped by inclusion of orthotics in a treatment plan.

Shoe Selection

Athletic shoe selection varies per sport, and are not necessarily interchangeable. A running shoe needs to allow correct mobility, stabilization, and cushion - depending on the athletes needs. Many running shoes have a wider heel-counter and as such would not be appropriate for sports requiring lateral movement such as basketball or tennis. Training shoes for runners tend to be heavier than racing shoes. And obviously you wouldn't want to wear cleats on a treadmill!


The orthopedic shape of SOLE Foot-beds

Sole Foot-beds (insoles) support your feet much better than other off-the-shelf insoles. When heat molded, they become custom-fitted to your unique foot and footwear, increasing comfort and reducing the risk of injury. They will naturally mold to your foot with use, or we will be happy to speed the process bu heating them in our office.

Many people experience some kind of joint pain, whether it is in their neck, back, hips, knees, or ankles. The source of the pain in these areas is often traced back to a lack of proper support for the feet.

If the arches of the feet are not properly supported they can collapse, causing a ripple effect of misalignment that moves up from the arch of the foot, through the ankles and shins to the knees, and on to the hips, back, and neck. Misaligned joints experience increased inflammation, which results in pain and increases the chance of injury.

SOLE Custom Foot-beds can help to reduce or eliminate pain or injury by dealing with them at the source-- your feet. The orthopedic shape of SOLE foot-beds provides custom support for the arches of your feet, gently lifting your arches into their optimal position, which encourages correct alignment. Improving body alignment has been shown to eliminate chronic pain throughout the body.

Sole Insoles and Flip Flops for Men and Women are available for purchase.                       Come in or call to see our inventory. Don't see what you want? We will order ahead for you. Just ask!