Different Orthotic Types

One of the best things about custom orthotics is their versatility.

See, every foot is different. Your two feet are like no others that have ever existed, or ever will exist again! Tiny differences in the positioning of the bones and joints, the height of the arch, the width of the sole, etc. can make a big difference in the way your feet move, cushion weight, and respond to pressure and force. Custom orthotics need to take all these things into account in order to work properly.

And do they! Custom orthotics can come in all different kinds of shapes and sizes. They can be made from a wide range of materials, too. It’s all about giving your feet what they need to succeed. They even have different primary functions.

Despite the great range of styles, shapes, and materials, all orthotics can be categorized into one of two main groups:

Functional Orthotics

The primary purpose of a functional orthotic is to correct the way that the feet and ankles move and position themselves during motion.

For example, when you take a step, your heel bone rotates inward slightly and the arch flattens to absorb your weight. For some people, that rotation may be too great (overpronation) or too small (underpronation), which can cause pain and injury. A functional orthotic can correct this, guiding the feet into the correct position and encouraging normal biomechanical motion.

In order to work properly, functional orthotics generally need to be able to make full contact with the entire sole—from heel to toes—and be made from a more rigid or semi-rigid material, like plastic or graphite. That’s not to say there can’t be some cushioning, too, but the device needs to be firm to provide the necessary correction.

Accommodative Orthotics

True to their name, accommodative orthotics accommodate. They do not attempt to correct any abnormal motion or foot positioning—none may be necessary, in fact. These devices are instead designed to provide cushioning and a little bit of support to take away foot pain. Comfort and symptom management are the primary goals.

Accommodative orthotics can help dampen the impact of standing and walking, reduce shear forces across the sole, redistribute weight away from trouble spots and balance them more evenly across the foot. This makes them very useful for diabetic wounds, aching heels, arthritis, and other painful conditions.

Are your feet in pain? Have you suffered from chronic discomfort even with no obvious injury? There’s a good chance that the right pair of orthotics can provide the help your feet need. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Joel Foster, give us a call today at (816) 246-4222.

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