Prescription orthotic shoe inserts, also known as functional foot orthoses, are orthopaedic supports commonly prescribed by sports medicine physicians, podiatrists, and other medical professionals to improve comfort and stability for problematic foot problems. These inserts, unlike their older over-the-counter versions, are specifically altered to follow the shape of foot of the wearer to help improve issues like wrong alignment, muscle problems, and problematic arches.
However, it is quite common for new orthotics to require a break in period. Some people may find it frustrating to find their new orthotic shoe inserts uncomfortable and frustrating at first, but this is most likely due to the fact that orthotics work by realigning wrong muscles and ligaments properly. The discomfort can be caused by the initial resistance of the lax tissues, so introducing the shoe inserts properly and gradually is a must.
Proper break in procedures
Forcing the feet to immediately adjust to orthotic shoe inserts can cause foot, knee, leg, and hip pain. To ensure that the changes in muscle function and leg position are guided well by the orthoses, remember to only wear the shoe inserts for an hour on the first day, two on the second, and so on until the eight day where the patient can try wearing it full time.
New orthotics should not be worn while doing extreme activities like running and sports during the first week of wearing them. The second week usually already allows patients to wear the inserts full-time, especially if they are already finding them comfortable for walking. In the event that the shoe inserts do not fit some of the patient’s shoes, make sure to change to a pair that can accommodate them and walk on them for a few hours per day.
Another strategy is to try wearing the orthotics, then removing them once the feeling of discomfort begins. The moment the irritation has subsided, wear the orthotics again and repeat the process.
When to see a doctor
It is quite common for shoe inserts to not feel instantly comfortable despite being designed to follow the natural arch and shape of the foot. However, patients who feel any pain on their hips, back, knees, and ankles that lasts for more than a day are suggested to check with their doctor.
Reasons for unsuccessful breaking in of orthotics
Without a proper break in strategy, orthotics can cause more harm than help. One of the most common reasons behind failure of proper breaking in is when the shoe inserts do not fit well with the mold of the shoe. One example is the high heel style which, in concept, does not properly align the shape of the feet in the first place because of its high arch and the uneven distribution of weight it gives to the feet.
Another factor is when the design of the shoe is not compatible with that of the inserts. Athletic shoes, for example, already come with internal padding that might affect the the alignment of the inserts against the feet. For these kinds of situations, it is suggested to remove the paddings first and replace them with the orthotics instead.
Generally, orthotics are very manageable to wear as long as the patient follows a good break in plan and makes sure to follow the specifics of its function. Make sure to consult with a professional for a more in-depth guide in adjusting to shoe inserts.