By Simon Kay
Are you wearing orthotics? Are you happy with your orthotics? Did they address your symptoms? Do they feel comfortable or fit in your shoes? Or….have you stopped wearing them?
We see it all the time….rock hard orthotics, thick as a brick, never comfortable, do not fit in most shoes and still in pain. Sound familiar?
So….when was the last time you had your orthotics checked?
How often do I need to check and what are the benefits of having my orthotics reviewed?
While there is no strict timeline, the lifespan of your orthotics depends on a few factors. If you use foam pre-fabricated orthotics, these orthotics may require more regular replacing compared to a custom orthotics which usually last between 2 to 5 years or even longer in some situations.
Broken, compressed, torn or even worn out orthotics could affect you more than you realise, and even the shoes you use your orthotics in could do your body more harm than good. You might even find that you no longer need them – orthotics are part of the treatment!
With advancements in orthotic manufacturing, we are now able to make an orthotic for most types of shoes, ranging some low-cut, and slim-line court orthotics which fit in heels, yes heels, to flexible orthotics which give you more spring in your step.
How do I know whether my orthotics need replacing?
Below are some indicators you can use to assess whether your orthotics need a second look.
- Pain: If you experience any type of pain, whether it’s in the back, hips, feet or ankles – it may be time to replace your orthotics. You should not experience pain while standing, jogging or even jumping in your orthotics. Also, if the original reason or symptoms which made you start wearing orthotics has resolved – make an appointment to have them checked.
- Age: Most orthotics will last one to five years. If you use custom orthotics made from hard plastic or polypropylene, you usually only need a replacement every three to five years – depending on use. If, however, your orthotics are made from composite materials or foam, they may need replacing every year.
- Use: If you use your orthotics to get around or just for your day-to-day activities, they will not wear as quickly as those used for sports and recreational activities. Activities like running wear down your orthotics quicker than everyday walking to and from work.
- Wear or Damage: Take a look at your orthotics. If you see any cracks, broken pieces, areas of excessive wear – it’s time to replace them.
- Shoes: Look at the bottom of your shoes. Orthotics are meant to provide mechanical support to your lower limbs, so any areas of excessive or uneven wear might mean your orthotics are not functioning correctly.
- Changes: Significant lifestyle changes require new orthotics. For example, any significant weight gain or loss, lower limb reconstructive surgery, becoming pregnant etc – may require adjustment of current orthotics or new orthotics to accommodate the changes in your body.
So what happens at an orthotic review consultation?
Most orthotic reviews take approximately 15 minutes, however if you have some aches or pain we’ll normally allow 30 minutes for the appointment to address any concerns. During your review consultation your Podiatrist will:
- Review orthotic wear and tear – You’ve invested good money into your orthotics, so it’s important to make sure they are wearing correctly. If an area is showing signs of excessive wear, reinforcing may be required, and this will prolong their lifespan.
- Check covering materials – Covers are placed on the upper surface of the orthotics to protect the underlying materials. If covers are worn or not present, the underlying materials will wear out quicker.
- Review your current footwear– Footwear can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your orthotics, so it’s important to make sure you’re wearing the best shoe for you, your feet and your orthotics.
- Review your initial symptoms – Ideally, we’d like to see you symptom-free, but sometimes this is not the case and your orthotics may require additional support, or you may need to consider other therapies, such as ultrasound, shockwave therapy or foot mobilization.
- Review prescribed exercises – Patients often forget how to do exercises and the one-year orthotic review is an ideal time to go over them again.
- Review strength and flexibility – If exercises are not being performed properly, certain muscles may become tighter than they should.
- Review the joint range of motion – It’s really important to make sure the joint of your big toe, the ankle joint, and the knee joint have normal range of motion. If any one of these three joints has limited motion it will have a direct effect on other joints.
- Visual walking assessment– this is not always necessary, but often your Podiatrist will want to see you walk again. This will not be a full biomechanical assessment, or video gait analysis, unless of course they feel it’s warranted, however, they would discuss this with you prior to commencing this detailed procedure.
If you have a pair of orthotics and want to have them checked – book in for a 15 min orthotic review consultation with our Podiatrist Simon in the Wellness Centre.
For the next two weeks, if you quote this blog at time of booking – you’ll receive a discounted price for your consultation.