Ask Grady’s! Question of the Month – October

Ask Grady's 400pxWe now feature a Question of the Month section in our newsletter where you can submit your questions and a member of our team will answer. We received a great question last month so we thought we would share it with all of you!

If you have a question for next month’s edition, simply reply to our newsletter with the subject “Ask Grady’s”.

What’s the difference between custom made orthotics and ready made orthotics? How do I know which one is right for me?

Hi Pat,

Thanks for your question. Custom made orthotics are insoles molded and modified specifically for your feet to help relieve foot and leg pain. Due to the custom nature of this type of insole, you need to go to a special practitioner to have them made. Ready made orthotics, also known as over the counter orthotics, are factory made shoe inserts that are available in a range of materials and various support options. They are available from local retail and drug stores and also help relieve foot and leg pain. Deciding which type of orthotic is right for you depends on the severity of your foot problem, the types of shoes you normally wear and your budget.
 
Custom Molded Orthotics
 
When I started in the shoe business in the 1980’s, manufacturing custom made orthotics usually involved taking a plaster mold of your feet and vacuum forming heated orthotic material over the plaster cast. The material would then be cut, shaped and posted as necessary based on the type of custom orthotic the practitioner deemed appropriate. This method is still used today by some orthotic specialists.
 
As technology advanced, computer sensors and adjustable metal pins are used to take an accurate impression of your feet. A computer aided device is then used to grind down a block of orthotic material to your exact shape, then the practitioner may make slight modifications to complete your custom orthotic. Alternatively, a computerized foot scan and foam mold impression are obtained and the orthotic is manufactured off site by a lab. Generally, custom molded orthotics range in price from $500 to $700/pair and can take 4-6 weeks from analysis to completion.
 
Ready Made Orthotics (Over the Counter)
 
If you have recently noticed nagging pain and discomfort in your feet, trying a pair of ready made orthotics may be a good first step to help get relief from your pain. 

The technology in ready made orthotics has advanced greatly in the last 10 years. In our store we use the iStep Computerized Footscan system which has over 3000 sensors analyzing the pressures exerted on the soles of your feet when weight bearing. With all this data your feet are displayed on the screen in a color coded digital format. Based on this information the iStep recommends which ready made orthotic will suit your problem and help relieve your pain.
 
Ready made orthotics offer excellent support and many options similar to custom orthotics like posted heels (for pronation), non posted, with additional metatarsal support (for pain in the balls of the feet) or without, and are available in a range of sizes. They can be short (like the Birkenstock Therapeutic Arch Support that extend from your heels to just behind the balls of your feet), or full length (like the iStep Lynco orthotics).
 
I have found that common foot problems like plantar fasciitis, arch pain, metatarsal pain and shin splints can often be relieved with a good quality ready made orthotic. Ranging in price from $50 to $90/pair and available for same day purchase, ready made orthotics are a good place to start to help find a solution for your foot pain.

It’s important to note that while ready made orthotics relieve pain for a lot of people, there are definitely individuals with specific needs and problems who require custom made orthotics. If you have more severe structural abnormalities or advanced problems with your feet it is a good idea to consult your doctor or a custom orthotic specialist for advice.

I hope this helps answer your question Pat – thanks for asking,

Tony