If a table or chair is wobbly and unstable, you recognize that something is wrong with its base. Usually the fix is simple—putting a pad or something similar underneath the wobbly leg eliminates the problem. Sometimes your feet become unstable, too, and need some sort of correction to eliminate issues that arise. Orthotics act as that type of support.


What Are They?

Orthotics are any devices that help cushion against pain and improve functionality. Feet have a specific biomechanical structure to provide you with a stable and mobile base. If anything isn’t quite right, you can end up with pain over time, making it harder and harder to continue the activities you love. Your footwear is meant to support your foot structures so your lower limbs are protected and enabled function at their best. However, sometimes issues develop anyway and your shoes don’t help—or worse, they contribute to the problem. Orthotics are special inserts that support, cushion, or correct your foot mechanics and relieve your pain. There are two main types of these insoles: custom and over-the counter.

Truly Custom vs. Over-the-Counter

Custom orthotics are specialty inserts that are made for your individual feet and unique biomechanical issues. These are prescribed by a physician, like our team of podiatrists here at Martin Foot and Ankle, and are used to both accommodate and correct painful issues in your feet and ankles. They can be functional, which controls abnormal motion; accommodative, which provides padding and support; or a combination of the two.

They’re crafted after our team has had a chance to conduct a gait analysis and obtain a mold of your feet, so we can be sure the insert is built to match your needs. These are often used to help treat plantar fasciitis, bursitis, overpronation problems, and diabetic foot ulcers, among other things.

Over-the-counter inserts, on the other hand, are pre-fabricated insoles that you can buy from a pharmacy or grocery store and slip into your shoes right away. Usually these are constructed to act as arch supports, cushioned insoles, heel pads, and liners to protect against friction. They are created using standards based on foot sizes and generalized needs. While these can be effective for some foot issues, they don’t work for everyone. They also can’t correct biomechanical problems.

Fitting Accurately


Whether you should invest in custom orthotics prescribed to you by an expert, or use easy, over-the-counter models, will really depend on your unique situation. The more complex your lower limb needs are, the less likely that a general, prefabricated insert will have the support that you really need.

Let specialists like our team at Martin Foot and Ankle help you choose what will be best for your lower limbs. If you would benefit more from a custom model, we will begin the process of fitting one accurately. This will involve measuring and taking a cast of your lower limbs in the correct position, as well as considering your gait. The inserts will then be shaped and fitted to make sure they are comfortable and correct.

When your feet hurt, a simple solution like supportive shoe inserts could change the way they feel and function. You don’t have to suffer with uncomfortable lower limbs. Let our podiatry team see if orthotics of any kind will help you. Contact Martin Foot and Ankle in Lancaster, York, Lititz and Hanover, PA, for an appointment or more information by calling (717) 757-3537 or submitting an online request.