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Torn between custom orthotics and insoles? What is the difference and which one to choose?



The words custom orthotics and custom insoles can be used interchangeably. The key word here is custom which are orthotic/insoles measured according to your foot anatomy and provided by a specialist, such as a podiatrist.  Whereas an insole that is not custom is made to fit your shoe and not your feet.

Custom orthotics are recommended for anybody at any time as they are a custom support that will alleviate any symptoms of pain and discomforts while maintaining proper alignment of the body.  Although it is of greater importance for people that suffer from flat feet, everyone regardless of their foot type can benefit from orthotics as they help redistribute weight evenly across your feet.

Custom orthotics involve taking a scan of your foot and analyzing all the abnormal foot pressure and pathological gait episodes that occur when you are weight bearing using sensor technology. Custom orthotics would be the best option to realign the anatomical angular relationship between the front and rear of the foot and between the foot and the leg. Your local podiatrist would prescribe this type of orthotic.

Although I prefer to recommend custom foot orthotics over pre-fabricated insoles, some health insurance companies do not provide coverage for custom orthotics and they can be expensive when paying out of pocket. If getting a custom orthotic is not an option, then I suggest looking for a supportive insole that is made of rigid material for structural support and stability. Comfort will be achieved from the increased stability rather than any soft and bendable insoles found at a drugstore. Supportive insoles are ideal for those suffering from structural misalignment, plantar fasciitis, supination or overpronation.

When shopping for insoles one should consider which shoes the insole will be fitted into.  Insoles come with different volumes to fit different types of shoes. For example, a high volume insole is best suited for hiking boots, ski boots or running shoes and typically works best with high arches.  Insoles with medium-volume work best with casual shoes and some athletic footwear and work best with a variety of arch types. Low-volume insoles work best with cycling shoes and work best with people with very low arches.


Dr. Miguel Cunha Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare and a leading podiatrist in Manhattan, is a highly trained and skilled foot and ankle surgeon with experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions from minor problems to complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Cunha takes pride in having a genuine interest in each and every one of his patients while providing them the utmost compassion and exceptional care.

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