Foot Orthotics/Arch Supports
"Orthotics", also called "foot orthoses" or "orthotic devices" or "biomechanical orthotic devices" are prescribed, custom-made devices that alter the motion and change the pressure on the weight-bearing surface of your foot. They allow for normal motion but limit abnormal motion. They are prescribed to help correct such problems as excessive pronation, low arches, cavus, high arches and painful feet. They are also prescribed to follow some foot surgeries to help keep correction that was achieved at surgery.
To fit you with orthotic devices, measurements of your feet and legs are taken. This is followed with a plaster impression of your feet. The impressions are then sent to an outside laboratory and the custom orthotics are fashioned from various materials such as leather, thermoplastic, polypropylene, graphite, or other materials depending on your particular foot problem. Progress is checked at a later visit and adjustments may be made as you wear the orthotic. Orthotic devices can be made for different shoes. They need a "break-in" period to build-up wearing time.
Shoe fit and style are extremely important for proper functioning of the orthotic device. Shoes should be of proper length with 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch between the end of your longest toes and the end of the toe box. The toe box should be wide enough side-to-side to accommodate all of your toes without pressure. The instep should be of sufficient height to not cause abnormal pressure at the ball of the foot. The heel counter should be firm and high enough to accommodate the orthoses. This is an extremely, but often overlooked, aspect of a proper fitting shoe. The heel counter should either be straighter or curved, depending on your particular foot type. Trying to fit a pronated foot type into a very curved-lasted shoe causes abnormal pressure on the small toe side of your foot. Unfortunately, many times people, especially women, are at the mercy of a particular shoe fashion or manufacturer.
There are many over-the-counter orthotic (arch support) devices. Some work, but most are not designed on an individual level and provide very little support.