There are several reasons why people add shoe inserts or insoles to their footwear. Some need them for pain relief from plantar fasciitis, heel spur, high arch and other foot problems. Others wear them to address their tired, fatigued feet or to improve athletic performance.
Orthotics are meant to make your feet feel more comfortable. But why are your feet hurting whilst wearing them? Here’s everything to know about why it hurts after wearing orthotics.
Why You May Feel Pain and Discomfort After Wearing Orthotics
Whilst there may be low levels of discomfort when wearing orthotics, especially newly-fitted ones, you should not feel pain. Otherwise, the pain you are feeling may be caused by one of the following reasons:
1. Improper footwear
Wearing orthotic insoles with improper footwear can do more harm than good. It can make the initial problem worse.
2. Poorly designed (or fitted) orthotics
Custom orthotics are ideal solutions for certain foot problems. Many people unknowingly use ill-fitting orthotics for a couple of reasons. It’s either they purchased the items over the counter or they’re using poorly designed orthotics.
Prescribing and designing good-fitting foot orthotics require a comprehensive biomechanical assessment along with the patient’s 3 D scan of their foot. This process is best done by a foot-care specialist or a podiatrist.
3. Not breaking in your orthotic properly
A properly prescribed orthotic from your podiatrist o can be worn full time right away. If you feel any discomfort it should be completely gone within 7 days. If your orthotics are not comfortable within 7 days of using them you should see your podiatrist for adjustments. .
How Long Does it Take to Get Used to Orthotics?
When you’re wearing orthotics properly, you will be less likely to experience pain if they are prescription or custom made. . With that said, there may be an adjustment phase , which is the duration that the body needs to make adjustments.
This adjustment phase varies from person to person. But it typically takes 1 to 7 days for your body to adjust to wearing orthotics.
During this period, wear your foot orthotics regularly… You can gradually increase the wearing time each day if needed but most patients can wear them all day from when they are dispensed.
Common Side Effects of Wearing Orthotics
Custom orthotics are not entirely risk-free but are less likely to come with side effects. Contrastingly, side effects from using premade or OTC orthotics include:
When an orthotic insole doesn’t go with your natural body stride, it can force your muscles to work harder than usual. Consequently, this can cause muscle soreness.
Orthotics that provide little support can alter your body’s mechanics. This can result in postural changes not to mention the higher chances of an injury.
A compensatory injury is an injury that results in another. It happens when your body attempts to function normally following a minor musculoskeletal injury.
For instance, when one foot isn’t functioning properly or is injured, your body will rely on other body parts. But those body parts are now functioning in a way they are not meant to do. Increased pressure on those parts puts them at risk of injury.
Loss of sensation
Wearing tight-fitting insoles can place too much pressure on a nerve and surrounding tissues, leading to numbness or loss of sensation.
Why is My Custom Orthotics Not Helping with My Plantar Fasciitis?
The most common frustration that plantar fasciitis patients encounter is buying expensive custom orthotics and finding that their foot problems have become worse. Here are a few factors why custom orthotics are not helping with your plantar fasciitis:
1. Too Stiff
Inflexible foot orthotics reduce the complex, dynamic relationship between the arch and the ground. Hard, rigid custom orthotics are no better than hard concrete surfaces that these medical devices are designed to protect you from.
2. Too Soft
Likewise, custom orthotics that are too soft and squishy won’t be able to help with your plantar fasciitis either. These devices won’t provide support when you’re standing, running or walking. Insoles or orthotics that are too soft won’t take the stress off your plantar fascia.
3. Incorrect Prescription
Incorrect prescription can affect foot and ankle function. For instance, an incorrect insole can suddenly make a person’s shoes feel too tight.
Moreover, incorrect foot orthotics can redistribute your body weight. So whilst prescribed foot orthotics are supposed to provide pain relief, you suddenly find it hard to bend your feet, or your ankles begin to hurt.
What’s the Difference between Custom and Premade Foot Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are prescribed by a podiatrist whilst premade foot orthotics are purchased over the counter. Premade foot orthotics are also found in:
- shoe stores
- sporting goods stores
- ski and skate shops or
How are Custom and Premade Foot Orthotics Made?
There are a few different ways to produce custom orthotics. But the the most common method used by many podiatrists is making a mould of the patient’s foot.
The plaster in the mould hardens to produce a copy of the patient’s sole. The podiatrist will then send the initial custom orthotic to the laboratory technician along with the doctor’s prescription. The technician then fine-tunes it based on the prescription to meet the specific needs of the patient. At Adelaide Foot and Ankle we use 3D laser scanners to capture the foot and ankle alignment with the greatest accuracy.
On the other hand, OTC or premade orthotics are produced in volumes to fit the average foot. Whilst mass production might yield inexpensive orthotics, they don’t address the specific problems of each user. And thus, premade orthotics may only aggravate an existing foot problem.
The use of premade orthotics can worsen certain conditions of the user. It might create some orthopaedic issues as well. Specifically, those who suffer from the following conditions are at risk.
These conditions are:
Premade vs Custom Orthotics: The Real Score
Interestingly, some people have a negative impression of custom orthotics. But unpleasant experiences are often due to incorrect diagnoses that resulted in incorrect prescriptions. Wearing custom orthotics does help, as long as correct diagnoses and prescriptions are made.
Premade orthotics are a favourite amongst people who take part in high-impact or high-intensity sports. Such devices are thought to provide support or act as shock absorbers during strenuous physical activity.
Even so, different sports require different types of orthotic insoles. You should not insert an orthotic insole for running shoes into a pair of cycling shoes or ski boots. You should see a podiatrist or foot specialist to get a prescription if you actively engage in sports.
Further, you’ll need to update your custom orthotics every 12 months. This is because your body weight and other aspects of walking can change. Also, materials used in the custom orthotics wear over time. They become incapable of delivering the same support that they initially provide.
Which Insole Is Right For Me?
If you have been using your orthotics for several weeks but they still feel uncomfortable, you may want to think about the type of insoles you’re wearing.
They are a few factors to consider when choosing orthotics such as arch height, rigidity and arch placement. Also, note that orthotics that worked well for your friends or peers might not work for you.
Determining your arch height is an essential factor when choosing the right insole. The orthotic’s contours must match those of your feet so that your arch gets the best support possible.
Thus, choosing the right insoles for your feet requires determining the type of arch your foot has.
An arch height that’s too high may feel like there’s a golf ball in your footwear. The insoles may feel as if they’re digging into your arch. On the other hand, an arch height that’s a bit too low may feel like there’s too much room between the arches of your sole and that of the device.
Understanding the arch placement is also essential when choosing the right orthotics. Some insoles have designs intended to support the rear of the arch. Others are designed to support both the back and the front side of the arch, which some people find to be more comfortable.
If using the insoles still feels uncomfortable despite having the right type of your foot’s arch, then there might be an issue with the device’s structure. Flexibility also plays an important role in providing comfort for your feet.
Some insoles are made from carbon fibre materials to ensure rigid arch support. And whilst some people prefer this type of orthotic construction, others go for the ones with more flexibility in them.
But remember, podiatrists recommend semi-rigid insoles as these devices are excellent at treating plantar fasciitis and other foot conditions.
If you still feel uncomfortable wearing orthotics despite having been dialling in your arch height and insole flexibility, then maybe you’re using an incorrect type of insoles for your feet.
Here are three different types of insoles:
Short insoles are ideal for any footwear without removable inserts such as boat shoes, men’s dress shoes and women’s flats. This type of insole provides arch support without adding bulk to the front of your footwear.
Thin, full-length insoles
This type of insole typically has a thin top cover designed for footwear with thin, full-length removable inserts such as cycling shoes, soccer cleats and other low-volume footwear.
Full-length insoles have thicker top covers, which makes them ideal for shoes with full-length removable inserts. This type of insole fits well for running shoes and hiking boots.
Who Should Wear Custom Foot Orthotics
Wearing orthotics can be helpful for people who have undergone hip, knee and lower back surgery especially those with conditions such as a flat foot. These medical devices can help protect the lower extremity.
Custom orthotics may also help those whose jobs require walking or standing for long periods. Overweight individuals can also benefit from wearing orthotics since these devices help reduce the stress on the feet. This is because an increase in a person’s weight often magnifies certain minor foot problems.
Custom orthotics are also helpful to people who actively take part in sports. A strenuous physical activity can pose tremendous pressure on the foot. Wearing orthotics can reduce fatigue and might even improve athletic performance.
In reality, custom foot orthotics do not correct fallen arches and other foot and ankle problems, but they can reposition bad foot structures and may help reduce the risk of an injury.
Wearing orthotics, especially customised ones, can provide pain relief for various foot problems including:
- arch pain
- heel pain and plantar fasciitis
- pain related to diabetes
- pain caused by running & walking
- pain caused by bunions, a sprain or an injury
- pain experienced due to changes in the feet as they grow older, which is familiar to senior citizens
Foot Pain? Choose the Right Orthotics at Adelaide Foot and Ankle
What’s causing foot pain despite using custom orthotics is most likely the incorrect diagnosis of a person’s foot. It can result in an incorrect prescription that leads to a bad custom orthotic design.
Whether you have flat feet or suffer from heel pain, the right pair of custom foot orthotics can definitely restore normal mobility and eliminate pain. Do you want to learn more about how we create the right custom orthotics for our patients? Speak to a foot care specialist today.
1. How long does it take for orthotics to stop hurting?
This is a question we often hear from people during an appointment. Unfortunately, there is no definite answer as everybody adjusts to orthotics in their own time. That being said, it typically takes two weeks or so to get used to wearing orthotics.
2. Can orthotics do more harm than good?
Many people buy over-the-counter (OTC) orthotic insoles from local pharmacies without knowing they could harm other body parts. Custom orthotic insoles have been known to eliminate pain and discomfort. On the other hand, OTC orthotic insoles can do more harm than good.
3. Can new orthotics cause foot pain?
If you feel pain and discomfort when you wear new orthotics, remove them from your shoes and decrease the wear time by one hour each day. Do this every day until the pain goes away.
4. Can orthotics worsen plantar fasciitis?
According to some studies, OTC and custom foot orthotics may help reduce foot pain in adults with acute plantar fasciitis. However, wearing orthotics, especially prefabricated ones, comes with a few risks or side effects.