Lower limb pain is no joke. Aches and pains that make your day uncomfortable or unbearable can cause issues to both your work day and leisure time. Whether it be hereditary, from spending many hours on our feet, or from an injury there are many different tools that can help with this pain. Orthotics, whether they are custom or not, are geared towards creating small changes in our lower limb biomechanics (how we move), in hopes of reducing pressure in areas that are causing pain. In this post we’ll go over the difference between custom orthotics and over the counter (OTC) orthotics as well as why you would choose either. You should always look to consult your Canadian Certified Pedorthist when deciding between the two because your feet are the base of support to your entire body and adequately supporting them is key to becoming pain free.

Over the Counter (OTC) Orthotics

Over the counter orthotics are non-custom insoles that offer a general level of support and cushioning. The main positive to an OTC orthotic is its cost. Being at a lower price point they are a good alternative for people who cannot afford custom orthotics, or as a stepping stone to them. OTC insoles do not address specific biomechanical abnormalities so they are suited most for people with general foot pain. A few common OTC orthotic companies are Kneed, Superfeet and Sole although there are many other brands out there. You can find these at your local Pedorthist’s clinics, pharmacies and even department stores.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are the go-to products when it comes to lower limb support. These medical devices act to address an individual’s specific biomechanical abnormalities, which vary typically from left to right foot, that over-the-counter devices do not. Orthotics can come in many different sizes and materials, ¾ length or full length, rubber based or plastic based. The main advantage to a custom orthotic is that it is made from a mould of your feet. This means that it will match the true contours of your feet and is the easiest way to differentiate a true custom orthotic from a semi-custom orthotic. The Pedorthist who assesses your feet will make the orthotic specifically to address lifestyle and work demands. If you are wearing the orthotic in dress shoes, we make it smaller and thinner, if you’re diabetic we use a different top cover. The variations are endless. In most cases an OTC orthotic is a one and done type of product, whereas with a custom orthotic you are working with your Pedorthist in a continued treatment plan to address your pain and needs. Over time modifications can be made whether you are not adjusting well, suffer an unrelated injury or seek to wear the orthotics in another pair of shoes.

Main Advantages of a Custom Orthotic:

  • Addresses biomechanical abnormalities
  • Made from a hand casted or 3-D mould of your feet
  • Adjusted for your lifestyle specifically

If you are experiencing any lower limb discomfort and seeking a solution for your pain, reach out to your nearest Canadian Certified Pedorthist by clicking here. Whether it’s a custom or non-custom orthotic, we can find the best solution to fit your lifestyle.

Written by Tyler Ashurst, C. Ped (C)