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Over-the-Counter Orthotics

Almost anyone can benefit from the use of orthotics. Shoe inserts are not just for seniors; orthotics can also help treat a variety of foot conditions in children and adults.

Need for orthotics

Basic over-the-counter foot orthotics are available at grocery stores and pharmacies. Typically, these mass produced orthotics are less expensive than custom orthotics and can help relieve discomfort associated with minor foot conditions.

Foot orthotics can help if you have: 

  • Bunions. 
  • Calluses. 
  • Collapsed arches. 
  • Foot complications related to arthritis or diabetes. 
  • Forefoot pain. 
  • Heel pain. 
  • High arches.

What to look for

There are many things to consider when buying over-the-counter orthotics. The most important factor is the shape of your arch since orthotics are made specifically for high arches, flat feet, or normal feet.

Today some stores offer basic foot mapping to help you choose an orthotic. However, even if this is not available, an easy way to find out the shape of your arch is to dip your feet in water and then step on cement. The footprint you leave behind will demonstrate the shape of your arch: 

  • High arches will leave a narrow impression of the outside of the foot. 
  • Flat feet will leave a much wider footprint.

You should also make sure to factor in the type of activity you will need the orthotic for and the type of shoes you will be putting them in when you make your decision. There are orthotics designed for use in: 

  • Athletic shoes. 
  • High heels. 
  • Walking shoes.

Make sure to choose the most appropriate category for your needs, and invest in more than one pair of orthotics if necessary.

Issues created by improper fit

When choosing over-the-counter orthotics, it is important to focus on fit. Over-the-counter orthotics will fit most people but not all. This type of orthotic can help with minor arch pain, but they cannot function in the same manner as custom orthotics because they are not made to fit your unique foot structure.

One of the issues with over-the-counter orthotics is that they are usually purchased without the assistance of a healthcare professional. When people choose orthotics that do not fit their feet or purchase the incorrect product for their foot type, the orthotics will fail to provide any relief and may even aggravate an existing foot condition.

Consulting a podiatrist is the best way to find out which type of orthotic is right for your feet.