Orthotics (or orthoses) are defined as any device inserted into a shoe intended to correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern. Orthotics may also be used to protect sore or uncomfortable sections of the foot. When fitted properly, orthotics enable people to stand, walk, and run more comfortably, efficiently, and for a longer period of time. At Edmond/Norman Foot & Ankle Clinic, our board certified podiatrist, Dr. A. Bil Buksh, is an Oklahoma City Area expert on the use of orthotics to treat a number of conditions. Although orthotic devices come in many shapes and sizes and are made of different materials, they usually fall into three main categories.
As the name implies, these orthotics are composed of a relatively hard material, such as plastic or carbon fiber. They are custom made from a mold after the podiatrist takes a plaster mold or other kind of image of the foot and are generally used in walking or dress shoes. Working to control the motion of two major foot joints that are right below the ankle joint, rigid orthotics can improve and, in some cases, eliminate strains, aches, and pains in the lower back and legs.
Soft orthotics can take the pressure off of spots in the foot that hurt and can increase balance. Typically made of soft, cushioned materials, they act as a kind of shock absorber. They can be worn against the sole of the foot from the heel right down to and including the toes. These too are made from a mold or other imaging to custom fit your foot.
Semi-rigid orthotics are designed to help during physical activity like sports or walking. They are constructed of layers of soft material that is reinforced with more rigid materials and provide foot balance. These orthotics help reduce pain in athletes who are in serious training for competition. They are also often prescribed for children to treat flatfeet, and in-toeing or out-toeing.