Custom orthotics can be a hugely effective way to realign your body, reduce pain, and correct problems from foot deformities to plantar fasciitis. However, wearing orthotics can feel odd at first.
If you are new to orthotic devices, it can be useful to understand how they should work as part of your daily routine – how long you should be wearing them for, and how to care for them to ensure you get the most from them. Used correctly they will provide years of comfort and support. But if you don’t understand how to get the best from them, orthotic devices can be ineffective, or even make your foot problem worse.
At Foot Solutions, we are experts in all things foot care. From custom orthotics to therapeutic footwear, we can help you with every condition from flat feet to heel spurs, arch support to hammer toes. Here are our top lifestyle tips for getting the most out of your orthotics.
What are custom orthotics?
Custom orthotics take the form of shoe inserts or foot supports, designed to alleviate pressure and redistribute weight. As well as providing functional support and shock absorption, foot orthoses can also correct the position of the foot, to encourage realignment and improve posture. This means they can help with a wide range of problems.
What can custom orthotics help with?
Custom foot orthotics can help with many problems related to the feet, but when they are correcting balance and posture, they can also improve issues to do with pain in the legs, knees, back and neck.
Their function can vary from soft cushioning to more rigid position support, and thus they can be helpful for a whole range of problems, including plantar fasciitis and damage to the plantar fascia; heel spurs; arch support; ankle problems; ulcers; bunions; hammer toes; and flat feet.
I’ve received my custom orthotic – what now?
Breaking in your orthotics
When you receive your orthotics, your foot specialist should explain to you exactly how best to use them. This will almost certainly involve a carefully curated wearing in period.
Initially, you should only wear your orthotics for short intervals. This will allow the gradual adjustment of your muscles and foot structure to the device.
An initial wearing in period could begin with two hours a day of wear in a controlled environment – ie no sudden long walks or bursts of exercise whilst wearing your orthotic. Instead, simply wear your device around the house and allow your body to adjust.
Gradually increase the amount of time that you wear your device for. You could increase the time by one hour a day, whilst closely monitoring how you feel. If you sense that this is creating stress and extra discomfort in your body, don’t keep increasing your wearing time. However, do persevere with your orthotic. It’s normal to experience tiredness and mild discomfort when breaking in your device.
Addressing discomfort and making adjustments
If you are struggling with the discomfort, do consult your foot specialist. They may need to make further changes to get a perfect fit, as your device should be able to be worn comfortably once broken in. Your whole body and posture will realign itself in accordance with your orthotics, meaning any discomfort should disappear after the initial wearing-in period – resulting in posture and alignment that functions much better.
Your foot specialist may well have scheduled you in for a review appointment a few weeks after you receive your orthotics. This will give you an opportunity to discuss any changes that need to be made, and any issues you have been experiencing.
Daily routine with a custom orthotic
Once any changes have been made and you have broken in your orthotics, your aim should be to wear them whenever you are spending time on your feet. If you can wear them close to 100% of the time, this will give them the best chance of efficacy, and you the best chance of recovery.
However, many patients find that they struggle to wear them so consistently. Concentrate on successfully completing the break-in period and wearing the orthotics for at least 8 hours a day. It is likely to feel a bit odd!
Once you have fully broken in your orthotics, you can try wearing them for higher impact activities such as sports. Don’t try this before you have completed the wearing-in process.
Care of your custom orthotics
Clean your orthotics with soap and cool water on a damp cloth. Be careful not to use hot water as this could damage the device materials. Similarly, do not submerge them in water as this could destroy the materials the device is made from.
Orthotics often squeak! This can be addressed by sprinkling talcum powder in your shoes, reducing the friction. Not only will this stop squeaking, but it will help keep your feet fresh too.
Wear and tear
In order to get the most out of your orthotics, you need to wear them as much as possible. Realistically, this could be about 50-60% of your time spent on your feet. This should include walking standing hours, in different settings such as home, work, and school.
Most orthotics last between five and seven years, although if you are very athletic you may need to replace them after five years. Any fabric on the devices may need to be replaced sooner, but can be easily refurbished without replacing the entire device.
It’s wise to keep checking in with your foot specialist and monitor your recovery. A yearly review is a good idea, in order to check that your orthotics keep providing the right level of correction to help your foot condition. Your foot specialist will be able to assess whether they need to make changes to your device to keep improving your foot health.
Do you need help with foot problems in Ireland?
Come to Foot Solutions today. Our friendly team of foot specialists can help you get to the root of your foot problems. From heel pain to flat feet, ankle problems to arthritis, at Foot Solutions we will offer you a full consultation and gait analysis to make a comprehensive assessment.
Once we have diagnosed your issues, we can take impressions of your feet and manufacture orthotics with a perfect fit. If you’re ready to get back on your feet again, come to Foot Solutions today.