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OFF-THE-SHELF VS. CUSTOM ORTHOTICS: When is one better than the other?

OFF-THE-SHELF VS. CUSTOM ORTHOTICS: When is one better than the other?

Ever wonder what the difference is between all the orthotics hanging on
your footwear retailers wall? And what about custom orthotics?  Why pay so
much money for custom?  The following information has intention of
clearing up some of these hard pressed questions.

MATERIALS: The material of an off-the-shelf device will differ greatly
from the materials of a custom device. Most off-the-shelf devices do not
have as much cushioning as a custom device. However, if mild movement
control is the main goal of the orthotic device, when fit properly, an
off-the-shelf device will get the job done similarly to custom.

LIFE SPAN: The quality of fabrication materials between off-the-shelf and
custom are not comparable. The lifespan of an off-the-shelf is
approximately 6 months, whereas you should get a solid 2 to 6 years from
your custom devices.

FOOT TYPE: An off-the-shelf orthotic can only be used with pes planus
(flat feet) foot types. If you have a pes cavus (higher arch) foot type,
off-the-shelf devices are not an option for you. The devices are unable to
bring the ground surface up to the arch of your foot, therefore will never
fit your foot properly. The manufacturers of off-the-shelf devices cannot
predict the height of each patient’s arch.

REQUIRED CONTROL: When a mild amount of movement control is required from
an orthotic device, an off-the-shelf product can often suffice. Custom
orthotics will control moderate to large amounts of pronation movement
(rolling towards the inside).

TIME FRAME: Off-the-shelf products are always a great quick fix solution.
When you are experiencing painful symptoms, some alleviation is always
better than none! Off-the-shelf orthotics can always work as a short term
solution until your custom devices are fabricated.

*TIP FROM KELLY: Its important to understand that off-the-shelf devices
need to be fit correctly to your foot, or the devices can cause more harm
than good! For example, a size 9 foot, does not necessarily mean you are a
size 9 superfeet! The device needs to be fit to your arch length, rather
than your overall foot length. So the next time your shopping around for
your off-the-shelf product, trust the staff of your footwear experts to
ensure a proper fit!

Kelly Levac
CK, C Ped C
KAL Orthoses