How do Orthotics work?

By Athlete's Care on August 21, 2017

Toronto Physiotherapy

Orthotics are just one of the many devices that our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractors and sports medicine specialists have at their disposal to create individualized treatment plans. They seem like a simple device and solution, yet there's a lot of misinformation about orthotics, and many "one size fits all" solutions being sold in the marketplace. If you understand how orthotics can work, then you'll know why that's a bad idea.

What Are Orthotics?

Orthotics are assistive devices worn inside your shoes that help to correct imbalances and other issues that arise in the feet and ankles. That's the short version of the story.

In terms of basic mechanics, orthotics are made to fit a specific pair of shoes. When your feet sit on top of the orthotic foot bed, over time, it basically directs your feet into a balanced position when you stand, walk or move. By correcting foot posture, it corrects the balance of your whole musculo-skeletal structure. When your feet and ankles are not in proper alignment and the mechanics are out of balance, it can result in a number of problems, including,

  • Bunions,
  • Hammer toes,
  • Pain in the heels and foot arch,
  • Painful knees and legs,
  • Pain in the hips,
  • Back pain.

Unfortunately, orthotics have been marketed as a universal panacea for anyone, with cookie cutter devices that amount to an insole or at best, a poorly prescribed support. The fact of the matter is, the body’s biomechanics are complex and unique to each individual. It takes an expert like one of our Toronto physiotherapists or sports medicine professionals to properly evaluate a client and decide first, whether orthotics will help, and second devise custom made orthotics tailored to your situation.


The benefits of properly fitted and prescribed orthotics are many,

  • It should reduce fatigue as it facilitates normal movements;
  • It should reduce pain associated with normal movements;
  • The orthotic can help compensate for muscles and structures that have been compromised by injury or disease, reducing strain.

It takes time for your body to adjust and the full benefit to be felt, often four to eight weeks. But, there may be some trial and error involved, so you should be monitored by a physiotherapist, chiropractor or other medical professional during the breaking in period.

Orthotics are commonly used to treat a variety of specific conditions, including,

  • plantar fasciitis,
  • arthritis,
  • diabetes – which can affect blood circulation to the feet,
  • metatarsalgia, which affects the ball of the foot,
  • among many others.

The feet and ankles absorb the shock of the body’s weight against the ground. It’s only natural that problems in these areas are among the most common that our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors and other specialists encounter among their clients. If you are experiencing pain or any other issues with your feet and ankles, don’t hesitate to contact one of or Toronto clinics today to make an appointment.