By Christina DeBusk
If you are experiencing pain in your feet, legs, or even your back, it is possible that a shoe insert can help correct whatever is ailing you. According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, arch supports, insoles, heel liners, and foot cushions are the four different types of shoe inserts that are the most common. Each are designed to deal with various issues, such as flat feet or thinning heel pads, or just to make your shoes more comfortable.
The question is: Is it OK to buy an over-the-counter (OTC) insert from an in-store display to handle your foot issues, or should you use only custom orthotics prescribed by a doctor? The answer is, it depends.
To find out which option is best for you, just ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have any health issues?
OTC inserts are OK for people with no major health problems, such as diabetes or circulation issues. However, because both of these conditions can result in major damage to your feet, custom orthotics are the best bet. The last thing you want to do is make your health condition worse, and a podiatrist will know which orthotics won’t put you in harm’s way.
How much am I on my feet?
If you’re looking for inserts for everyday shoes that you wear to your desk job, then OTC inserts will probably do the trick. On the other hand, if you are planning to put them in your marathon shoes or you spend all day on your feet bussing tables, then custom orthotics are going to be money well spent.
Is my pain foot related or motion related?
Admittedly, this one can be difficult to answer if you aren’t sure what is causing your pain. The basic rule is that OTC inserts are for foot issues, such as if your arch isn’t big enough or the pads on your heels are too thin, whereas custom orthotics help correct motion issues. If you’re unsure what is behind your pain, then you may want to visit a podiatrist to help you find out.
How bad is the pain?
A little bit of foot discomfort can probably be handled by an OTC insert, but if you’re experiencing actual pain, then you want to get checked out. Any number of things could be going on, such as tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, and you can’t treat the problem until you know what the problem is.