Prevention & Recovery

Why orthotics make for happy feet

Why orthotics make for happy feet

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Prevention & Recovery

Why orthotics make for happy feet

From pain reduction to performance enhancement, show your feet some love with orthotic inserts.

A trip to see a Canadian Certified Pedorthist is your first step to happy, healthy feet. These experts in lower-limb anatomy and biomechanics, assess your gait and specialize in making custom foot orthotics and modified footwear. From feet, back and knee aches, to performance and comfort upgrades, your lifestyle and medical history are considered. "We look at posture, the range of motion in your joints and the activities you enjoy participating in, to see if your biomechanics are contributing to your pain," says Peter Morcom, President of the Pedorthic Association of Canada. After a thorough assessment, "we use video to show you exactly what your gait looks like, and how and if modified footwear can help."

When it comes to foot orthotics, there are two main functions. The first helps to decrease excess motion in an over-pronated foot, often called a flat foot. The second, most commonly used with high rigid arches, provides equal weight distribution and shock absorption. Foot orthotics come in all shapes and sizes, and are made from a variety of materials, from plastic to EVA foam to graphite. While any foot type can benefit from an orthotic, not every foot will need one. An appointment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist is the easiest way to assess your challenges.

Off-the-Shelf Versus Custom

If you're looking to increase comfort, performance, and even if you're experiencing some pain, a simple, off-the-shelf orthotic might be your best bet, and your quickest solution. The more affordable cost is also a plus, ranging between $30-$100. "These products can be a great test, or trial period, before you go the custom route," says Morcom. But because there are many different products on the market, a consultation with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist is still an important part of understanding which type of orthotic is best for you. Just like custom options, off-the-shelf products can vary in arch-height, amount of cushioning and stiffness or rigidity.

With custom orthotics, you get better control and patient specificity. Once your gait and lower limb assessment is complete, a pedorthist will cast your foot using either plaster, a foam mold or 3D laser scan. While off-the-shelf and custom foot orthotics may look similar in the end, the precision that goes into the casting process allows for lots of specialized additions. "There are benefits like forefoot posting, for example, which can change the actual angle your foot rests at, or metatarsal pads and many other personalized adjustments," says Morcom. While the cost is significantly higher for custom, $350-$650, they are often covered by benefit plans and have a much longer lifespan.

The Feet Sheet

  Off-the-shelf Custom


 Not covered by benefits


 Often partially or fully covered by benefits

 Life  Span

 1 year

 5+ years
 Wait  Time  Immediate  Two weeks from assessment



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Prevention & Recovery

Why orthotics make for happy feet