Custom orthotics need them vs nice to have

There are many options when looking at custom orthtoics and arch supports. But how do you know if you need custom orthotics or it would be something that would generally be nice to have?

I think I need orthotics

You know you need orthotics if the arches in your foot are causing functional problems and supporting your arches increase function of your body. This basically means that your foot is causing problems in other parts of your body.

What is a functional problem?

When I talk about function, I am talking about things working right. Meaning: are your joints working right? Are your muscles working correct?

You know that function of the body is not happening when you have restriction in your range of motion, stiffness in your joints and pain around the body. For athletes this is a main cause of lack of performance. For many people this is a main cause of unresolved back pain, hip pain and knee pain.

Here is a list of symptoms that an athlete might experience if they are having a functional problem.

  • Physical pain after on your feet for long periods of time
  • Increase in pain with high impact activity
  • Chronic ankle rolling
  • Chronic hip stabilization problems
  • Increase in piriformis and sciatic symptoms

Dropped arch test

This is a great test but you cannot do this test on yourself. You need someone who knows what they are doing for this test to really work.

This test measures how much your arches drop when you go from non-weight bearing to weight bearing. You should start seated and the first measurement of your internal arch should be taken. Next, you should stand and a second measurement should be taken.

We are looking to see how much your arches drop and how much they drop between side to side. Any of these measurements can help determine need for orthotics.


Orthotics might be nice to have

Just because you don’t have a functional problem doesn’t mean that you could not benefit from custom orthotics.

You have three arches in your foot. Think of the arches in your foot as shock absorbers for your knees, hips and spine. When your arches are dropped you take a lot of force to the rest of your body. This can cause joint adaptation in most of the joints in your body.

Any athelete who stands, walks, runs or jumps can benefit from orthotics. By improving biomechanics of the foot you will improve biomechanics of the rest of the body. By supporting the arches you also decrease overall wear and tear on your body from the things you do.

Why custom orthtoics?

First, I always recommend custom orthotics. Most people don’t fit into a small, medium or large. I have also found that the arches between the left and right foot can be different. The advantage of getting a custom cast for your orthotics is that you get something that is built for the specific degree of your foot.

Orthotics are about providing support to the three arches in the foot, not about deforming the arches back in place.