How can 26 assorted bones (times two) connected by muscles, ligaments, and tendons support the weight of the entire body? It’s a miraculous feat of engineering if you think about it.
That’s how it is for our feet. Every step we take puts an enormous amount of stress on our feet. But our feet, even dependable as they are, experience pain every so often.
In a survey by the American Podiatric Medical Association, 77 percent of Americans say they have experienced foot pain.
You’ve probably heard of ‘insoles’ and ‘orthotics’ that can help with foot aches. What are insoles and how are they different from orthotics? The two terms are often used interchangeably but they’re not the same thing.
Keep on reading to learn about insoles vs orthotics and when to get one instead of the other.
What Are Insoles?
Insoles are also known as shoe inserts, footbeds, and arch supports. It’s the material inside the shoe that the foot is laid on. Most shoes from well-known brands today have insoles that can be removed and replaced with aftermarket inserts.
These off-the-shelf inserts will have better cushioning and support than the ones that came with the shoes. They’re made of materials such as gel, foam, and plastic that provide extra shock absorption as you walk.
Benefits of Insoles
One of the benefits of insoles is that they’re readily available. You don’t need a recommendation from a doctor or a podiatrist.
They’re also relatively cheap. Depending on the quality, you can buy a pair for about ten to thirty dollars.
These products are designed for comfort and can help with foot, ankle, or knee pain. As long as your feet are generally healthy, insoles can provide a most welcome relief to hurting feet.
What Are Orthotics and How Are They Different?
You know from Cinderella’s story that no two pairs of feet are identical.
Insoles are mass-produced items that have a one-size-fits-all approach. They work well but in some cases, a generic solution is not enough. For people with chronic or serious foot conditions, insoles may even cause more harm than good.
Orthotics are similar to insoles but the difference is that these bad boys are custom-made. They’re prescription devices that are designed to perfectly fit your feet.
During your appointment, your doctor or sports podiatrist will take a 3D scan of your feet. They will also observe you while walking or running and diagnose any biomechanical issues. From there, they’ll make a precise mold of your feet and turn it into orthotics.
Benefits of Orthotics
Orthotics can deal with foot problems that insoles have no business with. They can provide pain relief for plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and diabetic foot ulcers. The so-called “functional orthotics” can correct posture and gait problems that are the likely root cause of your pain.
Prescription custom orthotics are more expensive (around 200 to 800 dollars) but they’re more durable than insoles. You may need to replace your insoles every six months while orthotics can last for up to five years.
Orthotics vs Insoles: Which One Is Right for You?
What are insoles good for? They’re for those who’re having foot pain or discomfort but otherwise have no serious biomechanical or pathological foot issues. In which case, orthotics are a better solution.
For more health tips and advice, check out the health section of our website for other helpful articles.