At Fixing Feet Institute, we frequently prescribe and dispense custom orthotics to patients of all ages, who may be struggling with a wide variety of foot and ankle problems.
The reason for this is simple. Biomechanical deficiencies (such as flat arches, overpronation of the feet, or gait abnormalities) are among the most frequent contributing causes for many common pain conditions.
Custom orthotics, fashioned just for you using precision measurements of your feet, are well suited to restoring healthy biomechanics to your feet and lower body, as well as providing extra cushioning and support for your feet.
Another key advantage of custom orthotics (as opposed to over-the-counter arch supports, which typically only provide a few months’ worth of use) is that they are long-lasting. The lifespan of your orthotics will of course vary depending on factors such as construction materials, how heavy you are, how often you wear them, and what kinds of activities you do in them. But if they’re well cared for, it’s not uncommon for some pairs to last for several years.
That said, at some point there will come a time when your orthotics will need to be adjusted or replaced. And if you want to continue to receive the best possible performance for your set—and avoid a return of foot pain—you’ll want to make sure you get your orthotics checked regularly and replaced as soon as possible when the time comes. Wearing an old, worn-through device in some cases can be just as dangerous as not wearing one at all.
Adjusted or Replaced?
One other key benefit of custom orthotics is that, many times, they may not need to be totally replaced if only minor tweaks need to be made. Relatively simple and small adjustments, such as slightly altering the arch height or increasing the amount of padding, can sometimes be performed in office.
In any case, we will want to be sure your orthotics will continue to provide the necessary support for your feet until we see you next. If your needs are likely to be beyond the scope of a minor orthotics adjustment, replacement is usually the best choice.
Reasons Why Your Orthotics Might Need to Be Adjusted or Replaced
We previously talked about reasons why one pair of orthotics might wear out faster than another. However, let’s take a closer look at some internal and external factors that commonly signal your custom orthotics may be reaching the end of their useful lifespan.
- Foot pain. This is the most obvious and important sign. Typically, when you get a new pair of orthotics, it takes a few weeks to a few months for your body to adjust and the pain to subside. But if the pain is coming back, it’s a clear indication you aren’t getting the support you need from your orthotics any longer.
- Pain in other areas. Remember, your feet are your foundation. When they are properly aligned, the rest of your body doesn’t have to work as hard. When they are misaligned, other joints and muscles must compensate. If your orthotics are worn out, pain may return not just to the feet, but to the legs, hips, and even back.
- Visible wear on your orthotics. If your orthotics appear worn down, compressed, cracked, or show other signs of visible wear, that is another clear sign you should take them in and have us repair (if possible) or replace them.
- Unusual tread wear on your shoes. If they are working properly, your orthotics should properly balance your feet and control your gait, which should in turn lead to neutral wear patterns on your older shoes. In other words, the heaviest wear will be across the balls and heels. If you notice things like excessive wear along the edges, or heavier wear on one shoe than the other, we may need to take a look.
- Body changes. Custom orthotics are precision tools made for a highly specific set of circumstances. When you change those circumstances, your orthotics may no longer be as effective. Pregnancy, substantial weight gain or loss, or a recent surgery to your hips or knees are all examples of body changes that may require a change in your orthotics. The shape of your feet also changes over your lifetime, which may alter the ideal fit.
- Lifestyle and usage changes. Certainly, we encourage all our patients to get as much activity and exercise as they can reasonably handle and enjoy. However, using your orthotics for sports and other high-impact exercise will cause them to wear out faster. If you are an athlete, we may recommend you get a second pair of orthotics to use just for sports.
Your Arizona Orthotics Experts
At Fixing Feet Institute, we make it a priority to check in with you at regular intervals to ensure your orthotics are giving you the relief you require. We want to help you maximize both the lifespan and the performance you get out of them.
When we dispense orthotics for you, we will recommend follow-up appointments according to a set schedule. Most people should have a yearly orthotics checkup at the very minimum, although in some circumstances we may prefer to see you more often.
That said, if at any point you feel that your orthotics are no longer performing the way you expect them to—whether we were the ones who initially dispensed them or not—please call our office and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Remember, orthotics are precision tools, and even small miscalibrations or moderate wear can significantly reduce their effectiveness.
If you have more questions, your orthotics are no longer working, or you’re just overdue for a regular orthotics maintenance checkup, please call the Fixing Feet Institute in Surprise, AZ today at (623) 584-5556. We can help you figure out if you need new orthotics, and if so, what type.