What’s the Difference Between Insoles and Orthotics?

Are you considering custom orthotics or arch support insoles in Owen Sound? Do you want to learn about their differences? Insoles and orthotics are widely sought-after solutions for foot-related problems, providing effective pain reduction and addressing a range of physical ailments and postural issues.

Although people often use these terms interchangeably, it’s crucial to understand that they are different products with distinct functionalities and benefits. This article discusses the differences between insoles and orthotics so you can identify which one is right for you.

What Are Insoles?

You can typically find insoles or inserts in pharmacies and healthcare stores. These foot care tools are generally made of a soft gel material and may include foam or plastic components. 

Insoles provide cushioning and support to the foot, reducing pain through 2 distinct mechanisms. However, off-the-shelf insoles offer temporary relief. Because they are mass-produced and are a one-size-fits-all solution, they may not be able to address the underlying cause. Symptoms may persist or worsen without addressing the root issue. 

It’s important that you know what insoles your doctor recommends for your specific needs. A foot specialist will evaluate the condition of your feet, considering factors such as your foot structure, gait pattern, and severity of your symptoms. 

You may be prescribed insoles for plantar fasciitis or fallen arches (flat feet) as part of a comprehensive treatment program.

Benefits of Insoles

Effectively treats flat arches

Insoles with well-built arches elevate fallen arches to optimal levels during movement. The device supports the foot arch to prevent flattening, resulting in proper foot movement and enhanced arch strength. This is especially useful if you play sports that involve running or jumping. Combining insoles with calf stretching and arch-strengthening exercises enhances their effectiveness.

Reduces the likelihood of developing common and painful foot conditions

By protecting the feet, insoles can reduce your chances of developing common, painful foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis and bunions. Often, these conditions result from unhealthy foot movement patterns associated with flat feet. Insoles prevent the overstretching of the plantar fascia ligament, allowing it to heal and recover.

Enhances foot movement patterns

How your feet move influences your overall body movement. Flat arches can lead to inward rolling of the feet, requiring compensatory adjustments in the lower body. By improving foot movement patterns, insoles reinforce proper lower body movement. Notably, visual gait changes can be observed within weeks of wearing insoles.

Offers simplicity and affordability

Insoles are a convenient and cost-effective solution to supporting flat arches throughout the day, particularly compared to more expensive alternatives. While surgical intervention may be necessary in extreme cases, insoles effectively manage flat arches in the early stages. Using insoles, you can avoid paying for medical fees and services related to foot conditions or lower body pain.

What Are Orthotics?

Orthotics are engineered using premium materials

Orthotics are post-purchase implements used in shoes that correct the function of feet. Custom orthotics are effective for treating 10 different types of foot pain. They also come in 3 main types: custom-made (rigid) orthotics, heat-moldable orthotics, and pre-made off-the-shelf orthotics.

Like insoles, orthotics are designed to alleviate foot pressure and discomfort. The key difference, however, lies in that orthotics are custom-made to fit your foot requirements and treat specific foot disorders effectively. Moreover, orthotics outlast insoles, boasting a 5-year lifespan.

Benefits of Custom Orthotics

Individually designed to cater to your unique needs

By assessing and analyzing your unique foot characteristics, biomechanics, and existing foot conditions, a healthcare professional can create custom orthotics tailored to your specific needs. This personalized approach ensures optimal support, comfort, and effectiveness in addressing foot-related issues.

Crafted by hand using premium materials

Unlike insoles, custom orthotics are not mass-produced but handcrafted using high-quality materials. Their skilled craftsmanship ensures durability, longevity, and superior performance.

Provides comprehensive support for your entire body weight

Another significant benefit of custom orthotics is comprehensive support for your body weight. They are designed to distribute the weight load evenly across your feet, minimizing excessive pressure on specific areas or joints. By promoting proper weight distribution, custom orthotics alleviate discomfort, reduce foot injury risk, and enhance overall foot function.

Stabilizes the pelvis

Custom orthotics play a pivotal role in stabilizing the pelvis, contributing to improved stability and balance throughout the body. Proper alignment and support correct biomechanical abnormalities or imbalances affecting your posture. This can positively impact your gait, reducing the risk of falls, improving overall body alignment, and minimizing strain on various joints and muscles.

Improves overall health benefits

Orthotics provide synergistic benefits beyond supporting your ankles because the human body is interconnected. Here’s how it can improve your overall well-being:

  • Better sleep – Having trouble sleeping? Foot pain may be a contributing factor. Wearing orthotic inserts during the day can help alleviate discomfort and improve sleep quality, leading to more pleasant mornings.
  • Improved lumbar health – Do you suffer from chronic lower back pain on a daily basis? If so, you may be surprised to learn that orthotics can be a highly effective treatment option. Despite the challenges of addressing back issues, orthotics can help alleviate pain by stabilizing the spine and correcting any underlying issues.
  • Diabetes symptom management – Maintaining good foot health is crucial for individuals with diabetes. Orthotics can play a vital role in preventing the development of ulcers and other foot abnormalities by reducing friction. They also help alleviate neuropathy and ensure proper blood circulation.

Orthotics offer numerous health benefits, but their results may not always be measurable. While they are not a cure-all, foot experts consider them as a reliable solution for different foot issues.

The Problem With Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts

Consult a foot specialist to determine if insoles are right for you

Over-the-counter (OTC) inserts may be cheaper than custom orthotics in Owen Sound, but they may cause more harm than good. Wearing the wrong insoles for shoes can cause discomfort and exacerbate existing foot conditions. OTC inserts do not offer personalized support or in-depth corrective features like custom orthotics.

You should consult a healthcare professional who can evaluate your needs and recommend a treatment plan. A foot specialist can even offer advice should you need to wear insoles all the time for optimal results.

Know What You Need With Brubacher Foot Comfort

If you are wondering if an insole or orthotic is the right choice for you, be sure to consult a foot expert. You can depend on Brubacher Foot Comfort in Owen Sound for long-term relief from painful lower extremity conditions. We offer a range of custom orthotics and arch supports designed to alleviate pain and discomfort, improve foot function, and align your feet.

Our foot and leg specialists will examine your biomechanics and alignment very carefully. Do not hesitate to call (705) 445-0680 or email info@myfoothurts.ca if you have questions or are interested in booking an appointment.