Foot orthoses (also known as "orthotics") are custom foot supports. They’re designed to fit your feet more efficiently than over-the-counter (OTC) arch supports and address any biomechanical imbalances of your feet and legs.
Although OTC products will work for some people, many others find the support too high or low, or too far back or forward.
Orthotics are helpful in various ways. They help restore your ability to walk, run, and jump by reducing pain and swelling, and they increase the stability of unstable joints and provide better arch support. They also ease problems in other parts of the body, such as the back and hips. Other benefits of orthotics include:
- Improving the overall health of the foot and ankle
- Aligning and supporting the body, including the feet and ankles
- Preventing foot deformities
Generally, foot specialists group orthotics into two categories: functional orthotics and accommodative orthotics. Functional orthotics are designed to support abnormal foot biomechanics, and are usually made of materials such as plastic polymer and are good for reducing foot pronation (foot flattening). They also help with shock absorption while are walking. Examples of accommodative orthotics are braces, splints, casts, gait plates, and night bars. These types of orthotics can be used by anyone, and are used to relieve mild foot pain and to correct minor foot problems.