Most people have an opinion about orthotics before they walk in the door. It may be based on personal experience, what someone has told them or what they've read on the internet. People usually have a very positive or negative opinion about orthotics. They either don't want them or must have them. This is what's motivated me to write two blog posts that dispel the myths about orthotics. The first will cover the reasons people don't want to get orthotics and the second will cover the reasons people do want to get orthotics.
Read this far and don't know what orthotics are? Click here to learn everything you need to know about orthotics.
1. ORTHOTICS ARE TOO EXPENSIVE
The range of numbers that people pluck out of the air is incredible. In most cases, people overestimate the cost of orthotics by hundreds of dollars. They literally convince themselves that orthotics aren't a financially viable option before they even talk to a podiatrist. This is really disappointing as orthotics can be an extremely effective treatment option. At Fairfield Podiatry, we offer prefabricated (off-the-shelf), semi-custom-made and custom-made orthotics. Generally, the more specific the orthotics are for your feet, the more they'll cost. You can check out the pros and cons of each option on this page. If you have private health insurance that covers podiatry, they'll usually cover a portion of the cost. This could substantially reduce your out-of-pocket cost.
2. ORTHOTICS DON'T WORK
Whilst nobody is 100% sure how orthotics work, there's plenty of evidence supporting the positive impact they have on a variety of foot and leg problems. However, just like any treatment option, there are times when orthotics don’t work. So, why do orthotics work for some people and not for others? All podiatrists have spent at least 4 years studying at university. A lot of this time is spent learning about orthotics. So, does that
mean that all podiatrists prescribe comfortable and effective orthotics? Definitely not! Is everyone that has a driver licence a good driver? You know what I'm getting at. Whilst all podiatrists have been given a licence to prescribe orthotics, not all of them have the experience and skill required to achieve the desired outcome. In addition to this, orthotics are the only treatment option some podiatrists offer to their patients. Orthotics should form part of a treatment plan as a single intervention is rarely sufficient to help someone overcome a foot or leg problem. At Fairfield Podiatry, our experienced podiatrists regularly complete extra orthotics training to develop our knowledge and skills. Also, every orthotics prescription is reviewed by more than one podiatrist, which significantly improves outcomes. We use orthotics in conjunction with other treatment options to ensure that you feel great again as soon as possible.
3. I DON'T WANT TO USE ORTHOTICS FOREVER
Some people are concerned that once they start using orthotics they'll never be able to stop using them. This is not always the case. Sometimes orthotics are used in the short to medium-term to reduce the load on an injured structure (e.g. the plantar fascia) to get the pain under control and fast-track healing. Using orthotics for this purpose can also enable people to start making the most of other treatment options sooner. At Fairfield Podiatry, once a person has recovered from an injury with the assistance of orthotics, we discuss the pros and cons of continuing to use orthotics in the future. In most cases, we give people the choice to continue or stop using orthotics. We only encourage people to continue using orthotics if we think they'll help to prevent a structural or functional issue from contributing to the development of foot and leg pain in the future. Some people decide to stop using orthotics when they wear out and see how they go. This is perfectly fine.
4. I DON'T WANT MY FEET TO BECOME WEAK
In recent times, there has been a lot of interest in running barefooted and in minimalist footwear. Many advocates of barefoot running have spread the word that traditional running shoes and orthotics cause feet to become weak. They’ve been likened to a plaster cast, which causes reduced muscle bulk, weakness and inflexibility. This is factually incorrect. Research has actually shown that orthotics increase muscle strength.
5. I LIKE MY SHOES AND DON'T WANT TO CHANGE THEM
It's OK ladies, you don't need to throw out your favourite shoes in order to use orthotics. Even low bulk orthotics won't fit or work well in certain shoes (e.g. ballet flats, high heels). The key to getting the most out of orthotics is to ensure that you use them when you're most likely to aggravate foot and leg pain (e.g. standing for long periods of time at work, exercising). Using orthotics in shoes that you wear whilst sitting at a desk all day is unlikely to be beneficial. At Fairfield Podiatry, we always encourage people to buy more appropriate shoes before recommending orthotics. If necessary, we then use state of the art technology to customise orthotics to their feet and shoes.
Hopefully, this blog post has cleared up some of the common concerns about orthotics. The next blog post will cover the reasons people want to get orthotics, which are also commonly misguided. Do you really need to use orthotics? Hopefully, the next blog post will help you to answer that question.
Author: Shaun Bergin