If your Canadian Certified Pedorthist recommends custom foot orthotics for you during your assessment it is important to discuss the type of footwear you will be wearing with them. Although orthotics are most effective when worn with sturdy, supportive walking shoes, if you require dress shoes for work (either flats or heels), your Pedorthist can make orthotics for them.
As dress shoes typically do not have a removable liner and are sized to fit snugly on the foot, there is little extra room to fit an orthotic, so Pedorthists make dress shoe orthotics thinner and narrower. This enables the orthotics to fit flat on the base of the shoe and not bulge out the sides. Dress shoe orthotics also usually end just before the ball of the foot so they don’t take up any more room at the toes in an already tight space.

A proper fit is of utmost importance when using orthotics with dress shoes. There should be adequate room at the forefoot of your shoe and your toes should not feel squeezed. Proper fitting dress shoes will have minimal heel slippage and fit snugly around the heel of your foot. Adjustable straps help with the fit of an orthotic in a dress shoe and also help the shoe fit more securely on your foot. A thin strap at the front of the ankle or on the instep of the foot, usually called a “Mary Jane” style, are equally effective. Alternatively, a dress shoe that covers the instep of your foot and has elastic to help your foot slide into the shoe will also work well with an orthotic.
If you require orthotics and only wear dress shoes occasionally there is no need for you to have orthotics made for your dress shoes. Whether your dress shoes are high heels or slip on flats, I recommend you only wear them for short periods of time and not on days when you are doing a lot of standing or walking. The 80:20 rule is good to follow – wear your orthotics in casual, supportive shoes 80% of the time and your favourite dress shoes 20% of the time.
Canadian Certified Pedorthists are foot orthotic and footwear experts. If you have any questions about your footwear, and whether you would benefit from foot orthotics, contact a Canadian Certified Pedorthist in your community.
By Alison Smith C. Ped (C) Moncton, New Brunswick