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Custom Versus Off the Shelf?

When it comes to providing support and comfort for our feet, there are various options on the market. Two popular choices are custom orthotics and insoles that gradually mold to the shape of our feet over time. The latter are often made of cork or stiff foam materials. While moldable insoles may seem appealing due to convenience and cost-effectiveness, it is important to understand why these moldable insoles not only fall short in providing the necessary support, but can be dangerous in the long-run. In this blog post, we will delve into the world of foot support and explore the key differences between custom orthotics and moldable insoles.

Do the math: At their most basic, insoles are supposed to provide support in areas that have limited ground contact, and reduce pressure in areas that impact the ground the hardest. With moldable soles, your foot’s impact areas are the first to “compress” into the cork (or foam). This is especially true for your heel. As your heel compresses the insole over time, the material below the heel offers less and less shock absorption. So, ironically, as your foot forms to the moldable insole, your high impact areas become less and less supported. Custom Insoles do the opposite. Podiatrists ensure that the heel is supported by a structure which maintains its shock absorptive effects.

The Importance of Proper Foot Support

Our feet are the foundation of our bodies, supporting our weight and helping us stay active. Poor foot support can lead to a myriad of problems such as foot pain, joint issues, and even impact our overall posture and gait. It is crucial to invest in solutions that prioritize proper alignment and cushioning to maintain optimal foot health.

Custom Orthotics: Tailored Support at Its Best

Custom orthotics are designed to provide individualized support and alignment for your feet. They are crafted by a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist or orthopedic specialist, after a thorough assessment of your foot structure and biomechanics.

  1. Personalization: Unlike moldable insoles, custom orthotics are made specifically for your feet, taking into account factors like arch type, foot shape, and any existing foot conditions. This personalized approach ensures that the orthotics address your unique needs and provide the best possible support.
  2. Targeted Correction: This is key. Custom orthotics are capable of correcting a range of foot issues, including overpronation (rolling inward) or supination (rolling outward), plantar fasciitis, and flat feet. By addressing these specific concerns, they help alleviate pain, improve stability, and enhance overall foot function.
  3. Durability and Longevity: Custom orthotics are typically made from high-quality materials that can withstand regular use and maintain their supportive properties for an extended period. They are designed to last and provide consistent support, making them a worthwhile investment. Moreover, our insoles are made with moisture wicking and odor-reducing material, meaning they won’t get gross no matter how many workouts you do.

Moldable Insoles: The Drawbacks

While moldable insoles, such as those found in certain shoe brands like Birkenstock or Fulton soles, offer convenience and affordability, they have limitations that can compromise foot health and long-term comfort.

  1. Generic Fit: Moldable insoles provide a one-size-fits-all approach, lacking the personalized fit and support that custom orthotics offer. They may not adequately address specific foot conditions or provide targeted correction, leaving certain areas of the foot unsupported.
  2. Insufficient Support: While moldable insoles may mold to your foot shape over time, they often lack the necessary rigidity and structure to provide comprehensive support. This can lead to inadequate arch support, limited shock absorption, and an increased risk of discomfort or foot-related issues.
  3. Inconsistent Performance: Over time, moldable insoles tend to lose their shape and supportive qualities. The materials may compress and break down, diminishing their ability to provide adequate cushioning and alignment. This results in a decline in performance and may necessitate frequent replacements.

When it comes to foot support, custom orthotics clearly outshine moldable insoles in terms of personalized fit, targeted correction, durability, and long-term comfort. While moldable insoles may seem like a convenient option at first glance, they fail to deliver the level of support required to maintain optimal foot health.

Investing in custom orthotics, crafted by a healthcare professional, ensures that your feet receive the individualized support they deserve. By addressing specific foot conditions and providing targeted correction, custom orthotics promote proper alignment, alleviate pain, and enhance overall foot function. Remember, prioritizing the health and well-being of your feet is essential for a solid foundation and a pain-free, active lifestyle.

About the Author

Dr. Zac Cartun

After graduating medical school from the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Zac Cartun consulted for health-tech companies expanding medical care. Since earning his M.B.A from Wharton X INSEAD, he is now bringing orthopedic and podiatric care to the home.