If you’ve been experiencing foot pain and just switching to more comfortable shoes hasn’t given you the relief you need, then you may want to try custom performance orthotics. But there are a lot of misconceptions floating around about these shoe inserts, so you’ll want to educate yourself a bit before you start looking. Here’s what you need to know:
Types of Orthotics
First of all, you should know that there are multiple types of orthotics. Some are just basic inserts, and can be picked up off the shelf of any drugstore. These are mostly foam padding or gel, with perhaps some additional support in the arch area. True custom orthotics, however, will need to be fitted by your local podiatrist, instead. These can be made of many different materials, but serve to actually make up for structural shortcomings in the foot and allow for better performance.
Pros of Orthotics
Performance orthotics can be extremely beneficial for some people. They can alleviate the pain associated with plantar fasciitis, help runners and other athletes to correct their gait, and generally support better foot placement and health. Because they fit better in some types of shoes than others, they also encourage wearers to be more mindful of their footwear choices (which can make a big difference when it comes to overall foot health).
Cons of Orthotics
Some people think that orthotics train feet to be lazy by doing the work that muscles and other soft tissues should be doing, but there’s not much evidence to back that up. Wearing orthotics doesn’t make your feet lazy any more than wearing well-fitting, supportive shoes does. However, it is true that inserts cause some people to delay seeking a professional medical assessment from a podiatrist, leading to more pain in the long run. So if you’re experiencing pain, it’s better to see your podiatrist and ask his or her opinion on whether orthotics are the best option, rather than simply self-treating with drugstore inserts.
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