One of the most common questions I get is “why do I need custom orthotics when I can get over the counter insoles for $60 at the drug store?” The answer is simple – you’re paying for a custom device versus a generic arch support.
When a patient decides to go ahead with a pair of custom made orthotics, I take a 3 dimensional foam box cast of both feet. This mold is then filled with plaster and once dry, the foam is peeled off leaving me with the positive mold of the person’s feet. Materials are heat molded and vacuum pressed to this mold. Because of this fabrication process, the orthotics are only going to be comfortable for the person they were made for, no one else.
When someone walks into a store and either steps on a pressure mat or chooses an insert based on shoe size, they are getting a generic insole. This means that the company has created an “average” arch height that they believe will work for the majority of people, possibly solving their problem at a reduced cost.
Over the counter insoles can be a great option for many reasons, including: decreased price, ..
That being said, some over the counter insoles are better than others in terms of structure and support. The following are features to look out for:
Some brands to look for: Sole, Birkenstock, Superfeet
If you try over the counter insoles and notice a difference but your pain isn’t quite gone, it may be a sign that your body likes the support but may need a little something more, such as a custom orthotic. My best advice is to listen to your body.. it is usually the best indicator of what it needs!
Laura Van den Borre,