Custom Orthotics: The Best Friend a Foot Can Have

6 min read

A woman holding a pair of custom-made phits orthotics sitting at a desk in a clinic opposite a male podiatrist.

How often do you think about your foot health? They bear the brunt of your day-to-day at the bottom of your body, but their well-being should be top-of-mind. Foot Health Awareness Month is the perfect time to get them there.

Think of your favorite monument. The pyramids. The Eiffel Tower. The Chrysler building. Some have stood for centuries, some for even longer. That longevity stems from their foundations. The human body is no different — it all begins with our feet.

Podiatry is important

Now, that’s not to say that healthy feet will have you standing solid for the next thousand years. But they definitely impact how the rest of your body stands the test of time. Poor foot health is a leading cause of pain, discomfort, and other serious health problems. Take posture imbalances, for example — they can lead to knee, hip, and back issues, which in turn can make it challenging to exercise regularly. If you’re feeling any of those, it’s likely to begin lower down.

Understanding why our feet are so impactful is a good place to start. Biomechanically speaking, they’re surprisingly complex. Each foot has 26 bones, plus a network of ligaments, muscles, tendons, and nerve endings, all of which help us walk, run, stand, and keep our balance. If anything is out of alignment, chances are something else higher up won’t be far behind.

That’s why seeking expert podiatric advice on a regular basis is important — much like you would for the well-being of your eyes, teeth, or anything else. Even if your feet are in perfect health, seeing a specialist to make sure they stay that way is never a bad idea.

Custom orthotics: the best friend your feet can have

One of the ideal solutions your podiatrist is likely to prescribe is your own pair of custom orthotics — insoles that slip into your footwear for added support. Because they’re custom-made, your podiatrist will mold them to the shape and needs of your feet, such as boosting arch support, correcting your gait, or simply making life more comfortable for those who spend their day standing. Here are five reasons why they’re worth the investment.

1. They keep your feet in line

By ensuring your foot and ankle are aligned and working together correctly, custom insoles will help reduce discomfort from common issues like bunions, flat feet, and plantar fasciitis.

2. They help bear the load

Whether you’re walking around, standing all day, or running laps, your feet are the first to feel it. Custom orthotics add valuable cushioning to absorb some of the shock, reducing the impact on your feet and lower limbs.

3. They make life more comfortable

Custom-made orthotics are molded to the shape of your feet, giving you exactly what you need to feel comfortable. It’s a key difference between something crafted specifically for you and an over-the-counter solution — though you shouldn’t disregard those, either.

4. They enhance athletic performance

There’s a reason athletes like Paula Radcliffe and Charlotte Purdue trust solutions such as phits orthotics. They can help with balance, stability, and injury prevention — everything you’d want to maximize your performance. Luckily, you don’t need to be an Olympic-level athlete to benefit from custom insoles. They’re available for everyone!

5. They help prevent future problems

Whether your feet are in perfect shape or you’re already aware of a common issue, investing in custom orthotics is an investment in your future. Reducing stress on your feet and lower limbs now helps prevent problems from arising or worsening further down the line.

A podiatrist shows a patient how to insert a 3D-printed phits insole into a running shoe.

So, how can you get them?

It begins with a trip to your local podiatrist. Exactly how they’ll prescribe and design your custom orthotics will vary depending on their preferred methods and tools. But to keep things simple, we’ll break down the experience based on our end-to-end podiatric toolkit — Materialise Phits Suite.

Step 1: Measurement

First, your podiatrist will get to learn the ins and outs of your body through what’s known as dynamic gait analysis. You’ll walk, run, or stand on a pressure plate that will gather data on what’s going on beneath your foot while you move. They may also conduct a 3D scan using either a mobile device or a standing scanner to learn more about your biomechanics.

Step 2: Analysis

Your data is automatically transferred into a secure analysis and design software. Here, your podiatrist will instantly be able to analyze any potential issues or concerns and explain them to you using clear visualizations. You’ll learn things like which parts of your feet have the most pressure, whether you step with the heel or toe, and if your arches are sufficiently high.

Step 3: Design

Now, the fun starts. Using your data, your podiatrist will design a custom orthotic to suit your needs and lifestyle — namely, how and where you’ll use them. It will include all the corrections you need and be a perfect fit for your feet.

Step 4: Manufacturing

With the design complete, it’s time for your orthotics to come to life. In the case of phits, your podiatrist will 3D print them through our dedicated facilities, but some prefer to do their own milling in-house. Either way, you’ll end up with a pair of orthotics designed specifically for you.

Step 5: The follow-up

If you receive a pair of phits, your podiatrist will also send you a personalized report with all the details of your evaluation and corrections. It’s easy to understand and helps you see exactly what is being done to solve your issues. Importantly, you’ll also head back for a follow-up evaluation sometime down the line, where you’ll be able to really see the difference your orthotics made over time.

A medical professional explains images of pressure zones in a foot on a screen to her patient.

Materialise Motion: dedicated to your foot health

Materialise Phits Suite is just one example of the tools and solutions we provide as a company dedicated to improving foot health around the world. We work closely with podiatrists, universities, researchers, and a broad network of orthotics and prosthetics providers to take patient care to the next level — but the most important part of the equation will always be you!

Scheduling regular check-ups with your foot and ankle specialist is the only way to take advantage of the latest solutions, ensure comfort, and protect yourself against potential foot-related problems in the future. There’s no better time to start than right now.

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