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What are the best shoes for orthotics?

What are the best shoes for orthotics?

For some of us, our orthotics have become a part of our daily lives. They provide great relief from the aches, cramps and twinges we experience during our daily activities, typically as a result of our faulty foot biomechanics or external strain/forces. Yet, after finally attaining those custom-made insoles, the process of finding the correct shoes to fit them in, then becomes quite tedious. There are definitely a few limitations in regard to footwear choice, but sneakers DON’T have to be your only go to, several sandals will work just as well.

Here are a few shoe features that we recommend you look for when purchasing shoes for your orthotics. Also remember to take your orthotics with you when going shopping.

1. Removable insoles – to swap out for your orthotics

2. Heel counter/heel support – so your orthotics don’t’ fall out

3. Deep heel cup – so that the orthotics will fit well in the shoe and your heels won’t lift when walking.

4. Deep and wider toe box – again for good orthotic fit

5. Some form of adjustable fastening – such as laces or velcro

6. Low heels – usually no more than 3 – 4 cm is recommended

Did you know, Podiatrist’s can also make custom made orthotics for narrow/high heeled shoes (cobra orthotics)?

Understandably, these types of orthotics won’t provide the same type of support as regular orthotic molds, but they are worth considering, especially if you’re in high heels all day.

These cobra orthotics are particularly popular with lawyers and those in the corporate field.

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Ankle-foot Orthosis (AFO)

Ankle-foot Orthosis (AFO)

Photo credit: AliMed

Solid AFOs

Ankle-foot orthosis (AFO) are braces for the lower leg and foot that are often prescribed to patients with gait abnormalities. They are lightweight plastic braces composed of a plastic material that can be secured to the calf with the use of a strap; this strap also runs along and under the foot. The foot itself sits in a comfortable, accommodative shoe, AFOs possess a characteristic L-shape, which in effect assists by holding the foot and ankle in the appropriate position when performing certain tasks. Individuals suffering from disorders that severely affect muscular function, i.e. stroke, spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy and polio patients have a greater need for such devices in order to remedy irregularities that may occur in movement, especially during gait. AFOs can work in two ways: either correctly positioning a limb with contracted musculature in the normal position or supporting wasting or weak limbs.

Articulated/hinged AFOs

Articulated or hinged AFOs are made up of two separate components that are not continuous with each other but instead “articulate” with one another with a hinge mechanism. While the components themselves are composed of plastic, the joints/hinge are usually made with metal or other composite materials. The hinged moment present in these AFOs allows unrestricted and free movement of the ankle joint. These AFOs are often prescribed to reduce the rigidity in movement so that patients can perform daily tasks (e.g. walking up the stairs or rising from a chair).

Richie braces

A Richie brace is a custom ankle brace that is made after taking a cast of the patient’s ankle and foot. This type of brace is used to treat chronic conditions of the foot and ankle where the muscles are not working effectively or there are structural problems. It can be used for a number of conditions including drop-foot, ankle injuries, severe flat foot, and tendon damage. It is a lightweight design that is preferred by patients who are very active. It comes with leg uprights for maximum support, and as it is custom-made it perfectly fits the ankle joint axis of the patient’s foot. Moreover, it has an orthotic base that is also specifically moulded to your foot. As with all AFOs they do need to have good quality shoes that they can fit into – shoes with an adjustable strap, wide heel cup, and stable back and base are preferred. This brace provides a wonderful non-surgical option to complex pathologies of the leg, foot, and ankle.

Overall, the ankle foot orthosis is an efficient therapy for weakness in the lower extremity musculature and can effectively help weak muscle groups in the leg. A thorough assessment is necessary to ensure that the AFO chosen successfully remedies the given condition. Our team at the Perth Foot & Ankle Clinic are experienced in the use of AFOs and Richie braces. 

What Does a Podiatrist Do

What Does a Podiatrist Do

Wondering Why You Should See a Podiatrist? Here’s What We Can Do for You.

Contrary to common belief Podiatrists do not all have a foot fetish! We spend our working days assessing, diagnosing, treating and preventing foot and ankle disorders. To become a Podiatrist, you must complete a minimum of 4 years at University. The course is a dedicated and focused study of the foot and ankle, and covers general human anatomy and medical science. A Podiatric Surgeon has further specialised over many years to become a foot and ankle surgeon. Podiatrist Woman Our scope of practice varies greatly and covers all ages. Below are some examples of the scope of Podiatry and Podiatric surgery care…
  • Toenails: A Podiatrist can perform toenail care, this can include toenail cutting and thinning, treatment of ingrown toenails conservatively and/or surgically, anti-fungal nail treatment and advice.
  • Skin: You may need treatment of calluses and corns, advice on creams and lotions, review of skin lesions or anti-fungal advice, a Podiatrist can cover all of this.
  • Aches and Pains: Do you have an ache or pain in your foot or ankle? Don’t let it stop you from walking and exercising! A Podiatrist can do a thorough assessment and review, refer for any required investigations and tests, perform localised therapy (eg. strapping, US therapy, mobilisation or acupuncture), and provide a full treatment plan for you.
  • Footwear: Many shoes available may not be providing adequate support. A Podiatrist can review your existing footwear and provide advice on the features you would benefit from in your shoes, whether it’s for walking, work, home, running or gym!
  • Orthotics: Many people benefit from custom orthotics. If they are required for you, a Podiatrist can perform a full assessment, scan your foot and write your custom orthotic prescription. The orthotics are fitted and fine-tuned as required so that they are perfect for all day comfort and relief of foot aches and pain.
  • Diabetes: It is important to assess the foot health of people with diabetes on a regular basis to prevent diabetes related lower-extremity complications. The assessment performed by a Podiatrist checks the circulation and nerves going to the feet. A Podiatrist can provide education to ensure ongoing care and foot health.
  • Toes: Our toes do not always stay where we would like them! Hammer and claw toes, bunions and arthritis can all cause pain in the toes! There are many conservative and surgical treatment options available which a Podiatrist or Podiatric Surgeon can discuss with you.
  • Lumps and Bumps: There are many different causes of painful and non-painful lumps and bumps found on the foot. They may be single or multiple, soft or firm, grow rapidly or not change in size. Depending on the Podiatrist’s diagnosis, they may be managed conservatively or referred for biopsy or surgical removal.
  • Podiatry Surgery: A Podiatric surgeon can perform a comprehensive assessment and discuss surgical treatment options for your foot and ankle. Common procedures include correction of bunions, claw toes and hammer toes, correction of arthritic joints, removal of lesions, permanent correction of ingrown toenails and removal of painful nerves (eg. Morton’s neuroma).
As you can see the scope of practice varies greatly! Don’t hesitate to see a Podiatrist or Podiatric Surgeon; you don’t need to put up with difficult or painful feet. We happily see people regularly for ongoing care and maintenance, or as required to ensure foot health.
Pros and Cons of Custom Orthotics versus Off-The-Shelf Orthotics

Pros and Cons of Custom Orthotics versus Off-The-Shelf Orthotics

There are many reasons your podiatrist will recommend extra support for your feet.  A few common reasons include management of foot pain, balancing high-pressure areas, supporting feet that roll excessively inwards (pronating) or outwards (supinating).

Shoes OrthoticsThere are two choices when deciding on the type of orthotic to fit

  • Custom orthotics (prescribed and fitted by your podiatrist)
  • Inserts that are pre-made (also known as off-the-shelf orthotics)

Off-the-shelf orthotics are usually matched to your shoe size and then trimmed to fit. They offer a generic arch profile and offer heel support.  They come in a variety of materials, are relatively low cost and easily available. You can expect them to last around 6-12 months depending on the quality of materials used. They can be beneficial when you have a ‘classic’ foot shape, with symmetry between both feet and no major biomechanical concerns.

Custom orthotics are individualized and made to your feet and shoes. They can incorporate specific support and control features that are not included in off-the-shelf orthotics. Your podiatrist will measure and prescribe your orthotics, which are then made by an orthotic laboratory. Different shoes can require a unique fitting, such as boots, dress shoes, sneakers, football boots, heels and even ice skates! With a variety of material choices your individual needs and biomechanical factors can be addressed. Due to the uniqueness of these orthotics, the process is usually takes 1-2 weeks and the cost is greater than off-the-shelf. On average they provide longer foot health benefits (some are over 5 years old!).

Perth Foot Orthotics

It is best to speak with your podiatrist when deciding on which option is best for your feet and overall wellbeing.

For further reading:

5 reasons why you should consider the Perth Foot & Ankle Clinic for orthotics

How Orthoses Help Treat Your Foot Problems