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Orthotics Exposed

What do you know about orthotics? Do you even know what they're for?

So many of our customers could use an orthotic for a variety of reasons - but you just don't know how they work, how they should feel or what's the deal with them anyway. If your only experience with inserts for your shoe are Dr. Scholl's - we need to have a talk. What I usually tell people is that - most of this footwear stuff isn't hard - it's just not intuitive. Most of what people know about feet they learned on tv commercials - which sadly are about 50% bull. Orthotics allow you to keep some of the shoes you love and wear them without severe pain. There's no need to reinvent the wheel and start over with a whole shoe wardrobe just to accommodate a new foot issue.

Keep reading and I'll try to answer almost all of your questions.

Orthotics are very simply put - an insert that has been constructed to give your foot more support. More support to your arches. More support for your heel. More structure for your foot.

Many shoes literally have a liner. The technology is really built into the shoe. Don't get me wrong. There are a lot of really great shoes out there that just aren't orthopedic. If you look out in the shoe world and type "comfort " on the internet - many brands tout comfort - but not orthopedic. Sadly "orthopedic" has an old lady shuffling along in huge clodhoppers type of connotation. But there is so much available now that are fashionable - dare I say "cute" - that are great for your feet. They are well made. They use quality materials. They may even have some sort of special construction that gives you more stability or cushion - whatever the grab is for you to want that shoe - it may still lack enough support for your foot. In the picture to your left it would be the red portion of the shoe. Sometimes they come right out - sometimes they are tacked in (spot a glue in 1-2 places) or like Vans - they don't come out at all.

Most people buy their shoes to fit - so sometimes it may not be possible to replace your liner with an orthotic. If you love a brand of shoes for the look or the basic comfort but they just aren't quite doing it in the arch support area, NO FEAR. Bring in existing shoes, we'll figure out what insert you like and then next time you go to buy shoes, you take it with you and make sure it all fits correctly.

Ideally the orthotic will hold up your arch and cup your heel so that it will distribute the weight on the bottom of your foot so that there are not any pressure points. Now everybody's feet are different so that becomes the hard part.

TRY ON Ideally you should try on 3-4 different brands of orthotics to see what works the best. I know that sounds crazy but there isn't a "magic" orthotic that works for everybody - otherwise there would be like 5 total out there instead of 5000. It needs to feel relatively good to start. Getting a severe one because it should better for you - (if you won't wear it because it hurts) - does absolutely no good.

SIZING That sounds it might be the easy part but it can be a trick. Just like any other piece of clothing, the size you wear may vary drastically over numerous brands. You need to make sure they fit in your shoes to start. If it's a 3/4 insert versus a full length orthotic it might be you take a size larger or smaller based on your arch length. Your foot length and your arch length can be different. Again trying on is a valuable tool.

PLANTAR FASCIITIS The whole Plantar Fasciitis phenomena has become a huge market. You see and hear about it everywhere. Baby boomers are so much more active than the last generation but because they are on their feet more at an older age, they are experiencing far more foot health issues. Plantar Fasciitis is a very fancy way of saying foot pain. Sadly, it can manifest in a variety of ways with all kinds of different pain points.

Plantar is the tendon that runs from your heel to your toes, Fasciitis is the inflammation of a tendon. So big fancy term for "foot pain" that no one can pronounce. As you get older the tendons in your body get less elastic. With no support under your foot you can hyper-extend the tendon. Micro-tears and overstretching can give you some serious pain. In Las Vegas - like many other places - everything in our valley is on concrete and then hard floors are popular - so kind of a double whammy for your foot.

While cushion for many people seems to be the answer, it doesn't really address the problem. Cushion literally will just give you more pad under the part of your foot that is having a problem. Ideally you want an orthotic that has some rigidity to it. I'm not saying they need to be a piece of plastic, but they also should NOT smush into a ball either.

The picture on the right shows the foot/shoe as is - with all the red areas being the most pressure. The other one has many more blues and green showing lesser pressure points and more of an even foot. Having a slightly rigid orthotic will give you these kinds of results - but not just a cushion. Everyone will still have a couple pressure points because of how YOU walk. Everyone's gait is different - also another reason why buying shoes and orthotics can be a challenge.

This is the magic question. There really is no best. It's what best for YOU and your feet.

There are many after-market orthotics - like the ones we carry - that are great. Some of those other brands we have carried in the past. You just can't carry them all. Some brands concentrate on different things.

For example Superfeet - I found - concentrated more on heel stabilization in how the orthotic was made to work. I also noticed many of the bottoms were a hard material that would click in some of the shoes. We stopped carrying them. They're still a good brand. It's all a question of what your foot needs. I hear many customers still wear them and they are still out there in a big way.

We actually started carrying Powerstep because we had so many construction workers coming in looking for them. Work boots are made to protect your feet - most don't have much arch support. We experimented with a few of their styles and founds the ones we felt worked best for our customer base. They are also featured in quite a few doctor's offices. Who knew??

Most of the companies out there that have well made and orthopedic orthotics have done years of research and product testing to get it right. Every company has it's own twist maybe - but they all try to accomplish the same thing; getting your foot into a place that has reduced or no pain.

Please don't discount the value of these over-the-counter orthotics, but be smart. They need to have some key elements for your foot for it to actually help. I have found that most people can use aftermarket orthotics just as well as many custom-made for a fraction of the cost.

Custom made orthotics may be made for your feet but they have their own set of problems.

Custom Made orthotics can be:

  • Cost Prohibitive (anywhere from $200 - 800)

  • Time Consuming - will take months of back and forth to get them just right

  • Unwieldy - will be so large and bulky that they fit in nothing, You end up buying shoes 1-2 sizes too big just to have the orthotic fit.

Don't get me wrong. Custom Orthotics have their place. Some people need a much more extreme arch or have special needs that aftermarket orthotics won't be able to accommodate. Most people (in my opinion) need to wear better shoes or shoes with orthotics and NOT go barefoot. Those 2 things alone can "cure" most foot ailments. It's not an easy path - but it can be done. It's just a matter of when you get there how you want to handle it. There are so many more options now to choose from.

I hope you found this informative and helpful This blog is in addition to reels that we will be releasing on Instagram this October. You get to watch me talk about all these things and more.....

Please accept this coupon as a way to entice you to try an orthotic to help with those favorite but uncomfortable shoes and make them awesome again. Thanks for reading.

We hope to see you soon in the store, Just show us the coupon and we'll get you started.

DON'T FORGET Bring in a pair or two that you want to "fix" to give us a baseline. You might be able to use the same orthotic in multiple styles of shoes - you just never know. Most people don't buy the one they planned on - that's why trying them on is so important.

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