Discectomy Pain

Orthotics Benefits: Casting and Types of Custom Orthotics

To put it plainly, getting fitted for custom orthotics was a complete game changer for me.  After suffering for years simply walking or standing still, in late 2005 I finally made the connection between pounding feet and an aching, inflamed back.  I needed to keep my arches supported and more importantly, I needed shock absorption for my spine.

Orthotics are basically padded insoles that slip inside your shoe to give support and structure in places your feet need it the most. Though there a plenty of over-the-counter options of the Dr. Scholes variety, custom orthotics are developed specifically for your feet through a mould or casting process.

Orthotics Fitting:

Getting an accurate cast of your feet is crucial to the overall benefits gained by orthotics.  Without a solid, detailed cast it’s difficult to know how your feet will form around the orthotic and inside the shoe.  These custom insoles also help to realign the foot by reducing and redistributing tension as you walk or stand.

The two most popular types of orthotics fitting are plaster wrap or foam box.  Here’s good description of each provided by Canadian Footwear:

Plaster Wrap casting involves applying plaster directly to the foot in order to capture the contours and shape of your foot. The casting will be done with you lying down on your stomach. This is a non-weight bearing technique and takes 5-7 minutes.  Here’s an example of this process from my latest visit to the Chiropodist.


Foam box involves pushing the foot into a foam box. This is a semi-weight bearing technique often used if someone cannot get on a table for plaster casting or if a less aggressive shell shape is desired.

Each casting methods have advantages and disadvantages and your pedorthist will determine the best method for you.

Types of Orthotics:

Most chiropodists will state that their are two main types of orthotics depending on the users health need.

Functional orthotics are used to correct biomechanical issues such as flatten arches and for shock absorption.  They are usually made from more rigid material like plastic polymer which can help stabilize the foot and correct some foot deformities.

Accomodative orthotics typically use softer materials (e.g silicon) and are used to correct minor bio mechanical foot problems.  Examples of accommodative orthotics are braces, splints, casts, gait plates, and night bars.  These orthotics usually have less control and can be used to change the movement pattern of the foot.

For a detailed description of the various types of orthotics available, check out this write-up through chiroeco.

One more thing to consider is your choice of shoes.  I’ve recently switched to shoes that have rubber soles which can absorb my heavy heel strike much better.  Wooden or hard plastic soles send a jolt up my spine with every step and within minutes I can feel the impact throughout my entire body.   The most common dress shoes I wear are from the Ecco brand and have this ‘shock point’ button on the bottom of the sole.  Here’s a pic from one of my shoes:

FullSizeRenderThese shoes are by far the most comfortable and shock absorbing and they come in a variety of styles which makes it easy to mix and match with clothing.  Here’s one of the Ecco Shock Point shoes I have for the office and as you can tell I have a heavy heel in need of serious vibration muffling.

As always, consult your physician before embarking on new medications, procedures or therapies and take care.

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