I don’t always recommend these

“Do you recommend foot orthotics”? That’s a question I get a lot. It’s not as simple as just saying yes or no, because some people need them in some situations, but usually they are not a necessity and they won’t always fix a problem, and yes, they can even make some problems worse.

Generally speaking the foot does need to be stable, but where should that stability come from? You have three arches in your foot. Most are familiar with the medial arch, on the inside of your foot, but you also have two others. The lateral arch runs from the outside of your heel to the base of your small toe. The transverse arch runs from big ball of your foot to the small ball of your foot (big toe to little toe). Together all three arches make a triangle or tripod where most contact with the ground will be the two outside balls of your feet and your heel. The bones in your feet are able, or should be able, to move around a lot because sometimes your foot needs a lot a motion for it to function correctly. The muscles around the foot are actually what help maintain those three arches. An orthotic will help brace the feet and give them artificial arches, but like most braces they should be temporary as they lead to increased weakness over time.

When the feet are evaluated, a few things need to be answered. Does the foot need to mobilized (which it does in some cases) or stabilized? If it does need stability, can the feet be strengthened sufficiently to provide that stability? If these can be addressed an orthotic may not be needed.

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