Orthotics: What you need to know

Many of us now wear orthotics as a treatment for our foot conditions, but what are they and how do they work?


If you have ever experienced aches, pains or twinges in your feet and legs during walking or exercise, this may well be due to the way you are walking. Biomechanics refers to the complex series of movements that make up walking and any anomalies in this process can lead to pain – not only in the feet, but elsewhere in the body such as knees and lower back.

Podiatrists can examine your walking characteristics to identify these biomechanical problems, and check to see if the joints and muscle in your feet are functioning normally. They can then prescribe a course of treatment to help resolve your condition which will commonly include corrective devices called orthotics. Orthotics are designed to alter the way your feet and legs work, restoring more normal function and relieving stress on the painful areas. They can be manufactured from a number of different materials, ranging from soft foams to rigid plastics and are normally designed to fit slightly behind the balls of the feet – although some can be manufactured to the full length of the foot.

Footwear features to consider…

  1. Extra depth at the toes and the heel to allow the foot to fit comfortably into the shoe. Shoes with removable insoles have increased depth and so are preferred by podiatrists when fitting orthotics.
  2. An adjustable fastening to hold the foot securely in the shoe. Slip-on shoes are less suitable as they may press on the top of the foot with the orthotics in place.
  3. A low heel of no more than 4 cm (1 3/4 inches)

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So what really does make happy feet? 
Having made footwear now for sixty years we’ve had lots of opportunity to discuss this with customers, members of the public and a range of health care professionals and have come to the conclusion that different things make different feet happy.
  1. For people with heel pain, shoes with underfoot cushioning can provide some relief
  2. For those who lack sensation in their toes due todiabetes it is vital to have smooth internal seams
  3. To help preventbunions you must make sure there’s plenty of space around and on top of your toes
  4. If you need to wear orthotics then shoes with removable insoles may be helpful
  5. If you suffer from rheumatoid arthritis look for shock absorbing soles to reduce the pressure on the forefoot in particular


Every shoe we create is designed and crafted in our Comfort Lab, discover more from the beating heart of Hotter here >