Orthotics: Why Your Shoes May Be Limiting Your Recovery

June 23, 2018

If you’ve got pain or injury at your:
  • Heel
  • Midfoot
  • Forefoot
  • Arch
  • Ankle
  • Shins
  • Knees
Then orthotics can be a fantastic component of your treatment. The efficacy and function of your orthotics, however, can be influenced by your footwear – especially if they’re one of those ‘I know I probably shouldn’t be wearing these’ pair. Here’s why.

Orthotics have a specific function to help you recover

Orthotics work to relieve pressure away from the injured area, alter the way your foot functions so that you have minimal strain, and support the damaged bone, muscles or tissues. They do this because they are prescribed specifically for your feet, your foot characteristics, and your injury and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Despite the umbrella term ‘orthotics’, each pair are usually very different and have different additions and modifications. Your podiatrist knows what you need so you can recover in the shortest timeframe and prescribes your orthotics to achieve this. Your orthotics are then popped into the ‘good, suitable shoes’ we chat to you about and your gait (the way you walk) and stand are assessed to make sure the orthotics are doing what we’d like them to for your feet.

Does this mean orthotics are only suitable for one pair of shoes?

Absolutely not. When we fit your orthotics, we get you to bring in the shoes you’re going to be regularly wearing them in (work shoes, sneakers, etc) and we make sure they fit well into these shoes. The reason for needing to check is because different shoes have different widths at the base of the shoe, with some being significantly narrower than others. If this is the case, we make a few adjustments to the orthotics to get them fitting well in the pairs you’ve brought in.

So, how would my shoes affect my recovery?

If you were to go and put your orthotics into a pair of shoes that haven’t been checked, then there’s a high chance that the orthotics won’t be sitting properly in the shoes. The orthotics may:
  • Be leaning stiffly up against the inside or outside of the shoe (usually if the new shoe is too narrow)
  • Not be completely supported in the heel (allowing the foot to move from side to side and the supportive functions of the orthotic to not work)
  • Cause the foot to sit too high up in relation to the top of the new shoe, causing discomfort, irritation, rubbing or pain (and pain will also change the way you move your foot, changing your gait)
  • Result in a different biomechanical function because of the new foot position created by the way the orthotic sits in the new shoe which may be counterproductive to your recovery
The biggest takeaway from this is that your shoes have the ability to alter the function of your orthotics, resulting in less support for your feet. The more additional strain on the damaged area, the longer it’ll take for you to recover.

And the solution? It’s simple.

When you get your orthotics fitted, or at check-up appointments, bring your shoes to us! Let us have a look to see how the orthotics are sitting in the shoes and how your feet and legs are positioned in them too. It can honestly make a world of difference. The best part? The sooner you’re better, the sooner you can get back to wearing whatever shoes your heart desires without pain or discomfort. If you’re unsure about a pair of shoes and whether you should wear them, you can give us a call too. There may be a good chance that if you get a pair of sneakers in the same brand that we fitted your orthotics to, then they’ll be a good fit. BUT don’t forget that different models of sneakers have different levels of inbuilt support too which can change the way the orthotic will sit in them. So it’s always safest to bring them in for a check. If you’ve got any questions about your shoes, orthotics, or any pain that you’re experiencing, you can give us a call on 09 523 2333 to talk to our team or make an appointment, or you can book online here. We hope that your recovery is going smoothly and we look forward to having you back on your feet and feeling your best!