How Long Is Enough? A Guide To Weaning Off Orthotics
Posted by Jenn F. on Monday, March 12th, 2018
Custom shoe inserts (clinically known as orthotics) can be a great tool to fix issues with gait abnormalities such as over-pronation or over-supination of the foot. Many chronic aches and pains in the feet resolve rather quickly with the use of non-invasive shoe inserts. Here in the office, we custom-fit patients with orthotics for a myriad of conditions, and their lives are infinitely better for it. Sometimes we come across patients who just really don’t want to wear orthotics long-term for various reasons; maybe they spend a lot of time on the beach or in yoga class; maybe they prefer to wear sandals or open-heel shoes that don’t accommodate the inserts. Whatever the case may be, we have a few tips for weaning off orthotics that may work for your situation.
1. Weaning Off Orthotics Takes Time
If you’ve been used to wearing shoe inserts all day, you might want to reduce time spent by only wearing them during long bouts of walking or standing. Try moving around the house or performing a not-so-strenuous activity without them. If you continue to experience pain, you may be one of those people who needs to wear orthotics any time you are on your feet. If you feel good, then perhaps you can transition to occasional use.
2. Strengthen Your Feet
Strong feet can take you a long way during the weaning process. Metatarsal doming (as demonstrated in the video above) is a great exercise to strengthen the intrinsic foot muscles that support the arches. Two-position heel raises strengthen the Achilles to take some of the pressure off the foot muscles. Single leg balancing work to strengthen the arches. You may find that stronger feet equate with less time spent wearing inserts.
3. Strengthen Your Body
Aside from foot strengthening, working toward improving the strength of the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, lower back, and iliopsoas will ensure that ground forces get distributed more evenly up the kinetic chain. All it takes is a daily five to 10-minute routine—particularly before and after your workout, but also on recovery days. If you are already experiencing tightness and discomfort, bump up your routine stretches to three times daily until the pain resolves. If you experience pain on one side more than the other, do 50% more stretching on the tight side to loosen things up.
How Long Do I Have To Wear Orthotics?
By some estimates, about 90% of patients end up wearing orthotics indefinitely. Why? Because it’s the easier solution! As StrideTek puts it: “The problem is that age, weight, and chronic injury can make that quite difficult. Also, if a runner has been wearing stability or motion control shoes or orthotics for many years, it is not an easy thing to strengthen the foot and leg to the point that they are no longer required. Further, it does take serious commitment to do the required stretching, exercises, and training to get to a point that extra support is no longer needed.”
Where To Get Custom Orthotics In NYC
The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine has offices in Manhattan and White Plains where you can be evaluated and fitted with custom orthotics if necessary. Our state-of-the-art Gait Analysis Center will help explore the biomechanical basis for your pain or discomfort to get to the root cause. We do not believe that orthotics are a cure-all for every patient. We’ve seen a lot of people put into orthotics simply because they have “flat feet,” but that in itself is not sufficient grounds for orthotics if the patient is willing to put in the work necessary to go without. We have experience in getting patients transitioned out of orthotics forever. A professional evaluation is the best way to figure it all out so you can get back to your favorite activities, pain-free. For more information, contact us today.
If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine. Dr. Josef J. Geldwert, Dr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.