Custom Orthotics- Frequently Asked Questions

What is a custom orthotic?

Foot orthotics or arch supports are devices that go inside your shoes to assist in correcting biomechanical faults. These devices basically realign the feet to the back to improve function throughout the joints, ligaments, muscles, and bones.

Improved function leads to reduced stress and strain. Stress and strain can cause pain and inflammation- some call it “overuse” injuries. Therefore, reducing the stress and strain will most likely reduce pain and inflammation as well.

How do I know if I need custom orthotics?

There are many different signs that suggest your body could benefit from custom orthotics.

  • Uneven wear on shoes
  • Foot Pain
  • Bunion- bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of the big toe
  • Tailors Bunion- bony bump that forms along the side of the little toe
  • Callus and Corn- a section of skin that has become tough and thick due to excess friction, pressure, or irritation, especially those callouses on the big toe and under the 2nd
  • And more!

What are some conditions commonly orthotics treat?

Orthotics can be made for a variety of foot conditions. Orthotics have helped those who have: Arthritis, low arches, high arches, big toe joint pain, heel pain, diabetes, bunions, plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, tendonitis, severs disease, apophysitis and many more pathological conditions.

What shoes can I wear with orthotics?

It depends on the type of orthotic. Many places still make orthotics that will only fit in orthopedic shoes or athletic shoes. However, carefully selected materials based not only on the foot type but also on what type of shoe/activity the patient needs. I have made orthotics for work and hiking boots, high heels, soccer and football cleats, etc. -even biking shoes.

Custom Orthotics

Will I have to wear my custom orthotics for the rest of my life?

Most likely, but usually they are not needed all the time.  That is, after wearing full time for a few months to help with the condition, the ligaments, muscles and tendons can maintain enough foot motion support for a while. Many patients tell me that they were able to figure out when and how long they could go without them.

We all walk on the same flat surface, but some will be able to tolerate without them longer than others.  Some will say “No, I wear them all the time, even getting up in the middle of the night.”  Others may say “Yes, I go without them maybe a day or so and I can tell when I need to put them on.”  Typically, at the end of the day without them, the feet/body will let you know you need them on.  There may not be pain but a stretching strain in the feet will be a reminder, “I better get my orthotics on.”

Who should I see if I want a Custom Orthotic?

Well, ArchMasters of course! Seriously though, it sometimes is a tough choice.  This is due to a wide variety of factors:

  • The application of the variety of biomechanical theories
  • The education of the individual provider along with the experience and specialization of orthotic capture, design and fabrication.
  • The variable impression and fabrication techniques applied.
  • And don’t decide based on guarantees. This is typically trying to do a volume business knowing a certain percent will fail as well as counting on a percent not taking advantage of the guarantee.

There are multiple biomechanical theories that can be applied to orthotic treatments. Many who provide orthotics typically follow one theory, the one that they were taught.  Podiatrists, at least the older ones, were trained according to the Root theory regarding biomechanics. I say at least the older ones because the profession seems to be training more for surgery rather than biomechanics.  Although this training was very extensive, research and experience has showed that there are some faults with it. However, not all of it is faulty. Many of the so-called faults are easily corrected to get the success wanted.  Also, much of it is still applied in the orthopedic surgical literature.

There are also those who will take a weekend course, typically by a lab that fabricates orthotics, and over the weekend they become “certified” to make the orthotics for you. Others may be well educated with braces but have limited education and experience in the actual foot biomechanics.

Therefore, do not assume all orthotics are made the same. Education and training are important when searching for someone to fabricate the custom orthotics.

Learn more about ArchMasters and Dr. Sables at 


David J. Sables, D.P.M., C.Ped

ArchMasters-Orthotics, Shoes & Footcare, LLC