The human body takes a lot of abuse everyday. When your feet hurt, even the simplest tasks can be agonizing! Many people understandably look for quick and cheap answers for relief of foot pain generally caused by poor foot function or ill-fitting footwear.

These days, many retail stores are advertising “custom made” inserts, arch supports and insoles. While all these foot health products tout similar remedies, and are possibly cheaper than prescription orthotics, it’s helpful to understand the differences between medically prescribed orthotic devices and over-the-counter shoe inserts.

Most store-bought inserts are fabricated from nothing more than different density cellular sponge and/or foam materials. They may provide some shock absorption, but little (if any) biomechanical or functional support. Off-the-shelf inserts are also made to a generic arch height and shape, which will obviously not suit all foot types. In fact, they may even make some foot conditions worse, particularly those who already supinate when walking (roll outwards). Generic arch supports can force people to walk more towards the outside of their feet, predisposing them to muscle strains in the lower leg.

Prescription foot orthotics are designed to support, align or improve the function of the foot. They are only prescribed after a full clinical and biomechanical assessment of your foot function, muscle strength testing, footwear analysis, range of motion testing and thorough history of previous injuries. The NQ Foot and Ankle Centre is one of only a few clinics in North Queensland to utilise true 3-D computer imaging techniques to capture highly accurate impressions used to manufacture prescription foot orthotics. We also offer less expensive customised orthotics for growing feet. These are far superior to store-bought insoles, but not quite as accurate or durable as true custom foot orthotic devices.

There are many over the counter arch supports, but these only support the arch. Properly made custom foot orthotics provide support for the entire foot, are made by precision CAD-CAM milling procedures and follow a specific prescription with various modifications to suit individual foot types. Consulting with a Podiatrist before trying products from retail stores can save you time, pain and money.