Insoles, Inserts, Orthotics…What’s the Difference?

It seems like insoles are popping up everywhere…shoes stores, on television commercials, and even in your grocery store! So what’s the deal with them? Why are they important? By the time people find their way into our office, they’re so confused over the terms “insoles”, “inserts” “arch supports” and “orthotics” that they don’t know what to use!

Insoles, arch supports and inserts are synonymous terms…they mean the same thing. You can usually find them anywhere like your drug store, Wal-Mart or athletic stores. They provide additional cushioning and minor support in your shoes. Because the material is soft and deforms easily, the inserts need to be replaced regularly (anywhere between 3-6 months is average).

Orthotics are usually found in specialty stores or medical offices; however, the term “orthotic” is being used more freely nowadays and can also be found in your local grocery store. An orthotic is a firm supportive insole for your foot that usually has some type of plastic material where the arch of your foot is located. This provides better arch support and keeps you from flattening your arch too much with walking.

Now here’s where it gets tricky…

A “custom orthotic” is made directly to your foot. It truly is customized to your foot. Custom orthotics cannot be fabricated in a factory and shipped to a store for you to buy off the shelf. Your foot type has to be evaluated, which will decide the type of orthotic you need. Then either a mold is made of your foot or the orthotic is fabricated on site to match your foot and fit the needs of your foot. Custom orthotics do not usually deform; therefore, they do not have to be replaced as often as over-the-counter insoles.

No one knows more about biomechanics of the foot, then a podiatrist, aka the foot and ankle specialist of the medical field. So if you’re interested in orthotics to treat conditions such as flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, or Achilles tendinitis, then call Advanced Podiatry at 813-875-0555 for an evaluation with our doctors. The doctors at Advanced Podiatry can help determine what type of custom orthotic is best for you!

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