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  • Dr. Lee Brotherston

Do I need custom orthotics?

orthotics chiropractor chiropractic uxbridge

Have you been told that you need custom orthotics? Have you ever wondered how they work? Read on to bust some myths, and learn whether or not you truly need custom orthotics.

Generally speaking, there are custom, or over the counter orthotics. Many people are familiar with the Dr. Scholl's brand of insoles, or even a more high-end offering such as Superfeet. These are examples of over the counter, or non-custom orthotics. For some people, the addition of one of these inserts in their shoes will increase the comfort level of the shoes they have and are often sufficient for their needs.

Custom orthotics are made to fit your feet. This is accomplished in a variety of different ways. It can involve a scan of your foot, using a soft foam to make an imprint, or the technique we employ, making a plaster cast of your foot. This cast is then sent to an orthotics laboratory which uses it to make an orthotic specific to you. These are relatively expensive, however many insurance plans cover the cost.

So obviously the expensive ones made exclusively for you are better, right? Well, here is where things get interesting. To answer this, we need to discuss how orthotics work. The marketing material often reads something like, "custom orthotics re-align the foot and place it in an optimal position to reduce pain in the foot, knees, hips, back, etc. by redirecting and reducing certain motion that takes place during the gait cycle."

It's important to note that orthotics don't physically re-align the foot, but rather it is likely muscle activation, as a result of proprioceptive feedback from the orthotic, which controls the rate and degree of pronation during the stance phase of the gait cycle.

Huh? All this means is that by putting something in your shoe, it causes your body to be more aware of how it is moving - making changes to the way your muscles contract, which in turn may reduce the stress on certain muscles, bones, and joints. The thing is, for many conditions it doesn't seem to matter what type (custom or non-custom) of orthotics you use. For example, with shin splints people tend to get relief whether they use a cheap off the shelf orthotic or a custom one.

One reason we frequently recommend custom orthotics is for people who require some type of modification to their insoles. There are many reasons why you would require a modification to your insoles, but heel spurs is a common example. We can build a cutout directly into the orthotic to help relieve pressure off the spur and give you pain relief.

So if you're suffering from lower limb or back pain come in for an assessment to figure out what's going on. If orthotics are indicated in your condition then we can talk about whether you want to go the custom route, or go with something like Superfeet. For many patient's they have the insurance coverage and really enjoy their custom orthotics. We use the best orthotics laboratory we have found and they are made right in Toronto. However, if you find the cost of custom orthotics prohibitive it doesn't mean you can't experience the same benefits.

For more information, or to book a complimentary consultation to see if we're the right fit for you (pun intended) give us a call at 905-806-3614, or book online at

Thanks for reading,

Dr. Lee Brotherston

Partner and Chiropractor at

Oak Ridges Health Group

58 Brock Street W, Suite 201

Uxbridge ON, L9P 1P3

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