Throughout August, we have talked about different types of orthotics, but let’s concentrate today just a little on over-the-counter insoles, which are so readily available you can pick them up with your weekly groceries. First of all, it’s important to know that there is a subtle difference between insoles and orthotics. Orthotics are generally made of a stiff material and are designed to support the foot. Insoles are designed primarily for cushion and offer limited support while adding comfort instead. Over-the-counter insoles are often advertized as orthotics when they really aren’t. This is what leads to a lot of confusion and debate within the medical community.
On one side of the debate, the affordability and ease associated with acquiring OTC insoles makes them a great choice for those who want support or cushion, but can’t dig very far into their wallet. On the other side of the debate, many people are being taken in by the kiosk signs advertizing a “custom fit”, which is not at all custom. Buying something OTC that claims to be custom is a game of chance. Sometimes the OTC insole will provide exactly what you need and sometimes it may end up doing more damage than good.
Overall, Podiatrists will be on both sides of the fence. We at the FAAWC carry many styles of OTC insoles and can help you get the closest fit to your needs if custom orthotics aren’t necessary. We do however encourage you to book a visit with us for an evaluation before you head to your local superstore to pick up a pair. Just as we talked about accommodative versus functional orthotics, there are so many factors to consider when choosing an OTC insole that having your podiatrist there to lead you can be invaluable. At the very least, talk to your podiatrist about your needs and make the best choice for you. Just remember, knowledge is power and the more you know about your feet and what they need, the better your decision making power will be.