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Orthoses, What are they

Orthoses or Orthotic insoles, what are they?

Orthoses are shoe inserts that are designed to change the forces, or timing of forces to areas of the foot. This can be to take pressure off sore parts of the foot, or to change the position the foot is in help injuries to other areas, like the legs in shin splints, or helping knee pain.

These can be made from different materials, with older versions being made from steel or cork, to now various forms of plastic, carbon fibre and now 3D printed. Each material offering different properties designed to treat different conditions. For example, a mid-foot arthritis benefits from a very stiff material, and a diabetic patient will normally benefit from a much softer and flexible material.

Orthoses can be made for different type of shoes, like walking boots, and running trainings to ski boots and high heel shoes. This is an important part of the selection process, considering the patients shoes, to ensure the orthoses will actually fit. Some conditions will need changes in footwear, for example, if you have a bunion, wearing high heel shoes will continue to make your bunion worse. Whether or not you have an orthotic or not.

Different activities will also affect the design. For example, orthoses worn in football boots will be very different to those worn playing golf. Runners often benefit from orthoses. However, the design will differ greatly if a runner is a heel striker to that of a forefoot striker. If your Podiatrist hasn’t asked this important question, then it is likely your orthoses are not going to work.


1. Orthoses should be custom made, no one buys glasses out of a box they are made for your eyes.

2. Orthoses are designed for certain types of shoes, if you wear trainers and high heels it is likely you need two pairs.

3. Orthoses are designed for you activity, football and golf will likely be very different and may need two pairs.

4. Most importantly, Orthoses are designed for your injury. They are NOT all just arch supports the same as you buy from the supermarket.

5. See a specialist in prescribing orthoses. Orthoses prescription is not easy, and is sparsely taught in undergraduate Podiatry, not every prescription is equal.

Any questions or for more information, please do not hesitate to contact me on

Liam Stapleton BSc PGc MCPod HCPC

Sports Medicine Podiatrist

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