Let's Talk Orthotics!

Oct 04, 2017

Are you wondering “Can I benefit from custom orthotics?”, “Why are custom orthotics different than over the counter orthotics?”  or “Can my therapist at Active Physio Works make them for me?” This blog can help answer some of those questions.

Foot pain is not a pleasant ailment to be living with; nobody likes to have pain every step they take! A custom pair of orthotics can be a great tool to help combat many of the common causes of foot pain. Most individuals can benefit from a custom orthotic, although for most people they are not absolutely necessary. 

The reason a custom orthotic can benefit most people is because they optimize the function of YOUR foot. They are medical devices that are custom tailored to align YOUR feet in their most anatomically and biomechanically advantageous positions.  No two people’s feet are exactly alike, and likewise, no two pairs of orthotics are (or should be) alike. You may not have any foot pain or known problems, but a custom orthotic can still be of benefit to you. The body of the orthotic is a rigid plastic or carbon fiber module, which serves as a guide for your foot through the gait cycle. It functions in a way that redirects or reduces unfavorable forces and/or motion in your feet to the most favorable biomechanical position possible. Through the optimization of the biomechanical function of your feet, you are also decreasing the load and force transfer through your ankles, knees, hips, and low back. Orthotics can have a plethora of benefits elsewhere in your body.

At Active Physio Works, we can get you set up with a pair of custom orthotics. We use 2 pieces of technology to gather precise measurements of your foot, which are then used to manufacture your orthotics. The Metascan force plate isolates and tracks 8 key landmarks in the foot throughout the stance phase of the gait cycle at a rate of 150 images per second (>20x faster than the human eye!).  We then use the 3Dmaxx scanner, which is a 3-dimensional volumetric foot scanning device, to gather 800,000 data points on your foot during the 8 second scan. The data collected from these two devices is then combined, analyzed and translated into your custom foot orthotic which will be ready for pickup in 7 business days or less!

An over the counter orthotic can be sufficient for people with minor problems. For individuals of average body mass, relatively normal arch height, low-moderate activity level and who have minor foot pathologies, prefabricated products may be adequate. If you don’t fall into these categories, they are not worth your time or money. The majority of these products are manufactured with economy materials that provide minimal or no support for your foot. They are essentially a padded foot bed (which your shoe will already come with out of the box). People with arches that fall at either extreme (high arches or flat feet), who are very active, with higher body masses, who have significant biomechanical or structural foot pathologies, or who are highly symptomatic require custom made foot orthoses. The materials used to fabricate custom products are significantly stronger and more supportive, which is essential to correct more significant foot pathologies. Ultimately, they will be more effective, comfortable and durable. Any prefab product worth putting in your shoes will cost you $50+ and likely have to be replaced in 12 months or less. Custom orthotics are often covered or subsidized by extended health care benefits and will last significantly longer, which often leads to them being more cost-effective in the long run.

If you have any orthotics related questions, do not hesitate to contact one of our physiotherapists at Active Physio Works to discuss it further. If you are ready to take the next “step” towards happier feet, give us a call at 780-458-8505. Oh, and did I mention that the cost of the assessment, Metascan and 3DMaxx scan are all included in the price of your orthotics!

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