Custom Shoe Inserts vs. Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Posted on: February 3rd, 2016 by Premier Prosthetics Blogger

custom shoe inserts

Discreet and removable, a shoe insert is slipped into a shoe to offer added support to the heel, arch, and musculature of the foot, helping alieve pain from the ground up. Some options can be purchased from drug stores without a physician’s assistance, while others require much more than a trip to the corner store to secure. What gives?

Below, our Premier Prosthetics team breaks down key facts and differences between over-the-counter and custom shoe inserts:

Over-the-Counter Shoe Inserts

  1. Support and cushioning devices: Generic shoe inserts aim to temporarily ease minor foot and back pain. Some OTC inserts are made with gels and padded cushions, while others sport a hard plastic polymer, which provides more structure than their soft-material counterparts. Ultimately, they alieve but can’t properly fix the source of the pain.
  2. Available without a prescription: Because OTC shoe inserts are one-size-fits-all solutions, they don’t require a doctor’s signature. A pharmacist might offer insight if you’re deciding between different brands or designs, but their advice is generalized and given without complete understanding of your specific problem.
  3. Disposable, short-term solution: The average OTC shoe inserts lasts between six to twelve months, at which time materials have worn down and require a replacement. If an insert was improperly worn or targeted the wrong area, a new type of shoe insert may be needed to fix a problem created by the original device. Whether selected to provide arch support or back pain relief, generic shoe inserts aren’t designed to fix the core issue permanently but temporarily address the pain.

Custom Shoe Inserts

  1. Correct biomechanical imbalances: Heel pain, foot ulcers, hammertoes, and bunions are the result of faulty foot mechanics. Custom shoe inserts are designed to not just temporarily alleviate pain caused by the issues, but correct it by readjusting and redirecting bone and muscle placement and function.
  2. Designed for your feet only: Although some OTC shoe inserts market themselves as custom fit, they’re far from it. A true custom insert is made from a plastic mold formed to your foot by a trained professional, who has evaluated your gait and created a true-to-you prescription for an orthotic solution made of high-quality materials. Certain OTC options enable you to heat them to mold them to your feet, but they do not offer the same level of customization.
  3. Built to last: When handled properly, custom shoe inserts last five to seven years on average. Made with high-quality materials and professionally engineered, they hold up to treat your symptoms.

Though convenient, purchasing an OTC shoe inserts without a professional’s assistance may cause more harm in the long-run. Set up an appointment with one of the experts at Premier Prosthetics, who’ll evaluate and assist your next step towards a solution.

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