Orthotics are great things particularly for people who are suffering with pain in their joints. Most Podiatrists will look at your current footwear wardrobe and let you know what is Ok and what footwear you own that just became artwork that you can no longer wear on your feet. It can be a pretty confronting experience particularly if you like fashion footwear, heels, soft shoes and totally flat shoes.
So you are fitted with your lovely new orthotics and sent on your merry way with words ringing in your ears about more supportive footwear however what does this actually mean?
Firstly I would like to give you some tips on how to adjust your body to the new blue machines you have (most of the ones I see are blue, however every now and then I see ones that are pink or black). Most podiatrists will give you this information however I have had people come in who were just giving the inserts and sent on their merry little way.
Depending on your age (I know, I know we are all 21 at heart :-)) you would have been walking for a long time, your whole body structure is currently based on that walk and yes it is not correct and yes it is causing pain however how every nerve, tendon and muscle is currently working for you is designed on that walk. So first piece of advice is do not just put your inserts in and march off into the sunset. You are going to be readjusting how your body structure works and this takes time. So wear them in. The recommendation is that you wear them for an hour the first day, two hours second, three hours the third day and so on. By day seven you should be able to do seven hours. If however your body is in a lot of pain with this adjustment period, slow it down.
Be selective with the footwear you use, I would recommend wearing a good pair of sports shoes something that has a deep enough heel so that your foot doesn't slip out as you walk, also a lace up will help keep the shoe on your foot. Ensure there is also enough room in the shoe, if your foot is know tight in the shoe, then you will need to buy new ones in a bigger size as otherwise at risk of other foot issues.
So you have worn your new inserts in and your body has adjusted to them, you have tried every pair of shoes you own with the inserts and now realise 90% of them no longer work. Throw out all the unsupportive ones however keep your pretties - more on that later.
New shoes are therefore required and off you go to find them, please remember your inserts, I have had more than one person come in without them and to be honest chances of getting the footwear correct without the inserts is not great.
Into the footwear shop you go or online with your fingers:
first thing is that most street shoes and what I call pretties will not fit your orthotic, they have just not been manufactured with the idea of having to have additional space for one. So normally what will happen is you try them on and your heel will slip up and out of the shoe as you walk. This shoe even if you love it is not worth buying as you will use your toes to try and hold it on which will cause other problems.
So now you are looking for footwear with removable footbeds to give you the space you need for the orthotic.
You are also looking for flat shoes, with supportive heel counters and soles that do not twist too much from side to side (please note if you do this test with a shoe it doesn't require a lot of pressure and most you can tell just by looking at them). This then means the footwear you are looking at is a lot more functional and this is what I call it. It is your functional footwear that actual works with your orthotics and is what you use when you will be doing a lot of walking, standing and going about your day. So no it is not high heels, wedges, jandals, scuffs and things like this. If you want an idea of what functional footwear looks like check out the Kubo range on my website and these Propet styles, it is not all however will give you an idea. However this footwear has been designed to take the insert and also to give you the support you need.
So for your day to day footwear this is more what you will be looking at, however it will also help with reducing pain levels and that is the reason you got the inserts to start with :-)
I am also aware things come up - weddings, nights out, dinner dates, business meetings, interviews and everyday life. As mentioned above 95% of the time your orthotic will not fit in what I call street shoes and pretties.
So what do you do? My advise is to get some nice footwear that fits correctly, is not too high if getting a heel and to enjoy it. You can buy supports like this which will go some way to giving you some support.
Am not suggesting you do this every day all day and if you are going to be doing a lot of walking to get to an event if possible wear your inserts and functional footwear to get there.