Essentially, an orthotic is an insert for your shoe which supports your foot; each insert can be customised to offload or support specific structures of your foot. Orthotics are often also be used to help manage musculoskeletal injuries of your foot, knee, hip and even your lower back.
Tissue injuries can be categorised as acute or chronic/overload. The category of your injury will determine the type of orthotic prescribed and how long you’ll have to wear it.
Acute injuries typically stem from an injury event, such as a sprained ankle or a sporting injury. In this instance, we may use orthotics to help offload your injured tissue and reduce pain while your injury heals.
Chronic/overload injuries generally involve excessive stress or strain of a particular part of your foot caused by day-to-day activities. If this is you, wearing an orthotic on an everyday basis for a period of time can be part of the solution. Wearing your orthotic provides the muscle/tendon/tissue a chance to recover whilst it’s not put under as much stress completing everyday tasks.
We use three types of orthotics in the clinic: custom, semi-custom and prefabricated orthotics. Our podiatrists can determine which orthotic pathway is appropriate for you through a biomechanical assessment.
Custom orthotics are completely customised for you and designed to fit into shoes which best reflect your lifestyle, ranging from high heels to sneakers.
The design process begins by taking a 3D scan of your foot. This is uploaded onto a computer where we craft your orthotics to mimic the exact foot mechanics of your feet. Once we’ve designed your custom orthotics, they are printed by a 3D printer here in Melbourne, which is typically a two-week process.
Semi-custom orthotics are essentially a templated style of orthotic selected from a range of 30 pre-existing templates with the intention of complementing the natural shape of your foot as closely as possible. The suitability of this orthotic pathway is dependent on your foot structure and its natural compatibility with the templates.
Prefabricated orthotics involve a generic arch and some cushioning. These orthotics are designed to provide some support for the foot, and are sometimes known as “over the counter” orthotics. The suitability of this orthotic pathway is dependent on the issues you want or need to address, and the design parameters or constraints associated with a generic orthotic.
Our aim is to strengthen your foot over time through guided exercises, so it can function naturally by itself. We use orthotics as a short-to-medium term intervention to provide support, generally for six to twelve months.
This is called an adaptation period, where you become stronger over time. We will assess your progress and gradually dial down the dosage of your orthotic. Often, after the initial period of wearing an orthotic, you may only need to wear your orthotics whilst exercising.
Of course advice is always tailored to suit your exact presentation and needs.