Foot orthotics, often referred to as shoe inserts or insoles, are custom-made or over-the-counter devices designed to support and cushion the feet, correct biomechanical issues, and alleviate various foot-related problems. With a vast array of foot orthotics available, it can be challenging to determine which type is best suited for your needs. This article explores the different types of foot orthotics, their benefits, how they work, and how to choose the right pair for optimal comfort and support.

Types of Foot Orthotics

Foot orthotics can be classified into custom-made and over-the-counter (OTC) orthotics. Each type serves specific purposes and offers varying levels of support and correction.

Custom-Made Orthotics

These orthotics are individually designed to match your feet’ unique contours and biomechanics. They are created based on a thorough examination by a healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, and are often crafted from high-quality materials. Custom-made orthotics can be further divided into two subcategories:

Functional Orthotics

These devices control abnormal motion, correct biomechanical issues, and support the foot. They are typically made from semi-rigid materials, such as graphite or plastic, and are used to treat conditions like flat feet, overpronation, and plantar fasciitis.

Accommodative Orthotics

Accommodative orthotics provide cushioning and support for the feet. They are made from soft materials, such as foam or gel, and are often used to alleviate discomfort associated with conditions like diabetic foot ulcers, calluses, and bony prominences.

Over-The-Counter (OTC) Orthotics

OTC orthotics are pre-made inserts in various sizes and styles. They can be purchased at drugstores, sports stores, or online without a prescription. While OTC orthotics are more affordable and readily accessible, they may not offer the same support and customization as custom-made orthotics. OTC orthotics can be classified into three main types:

Arch Supports

These orthotics are designed to support the foot arch, relieving conditions like flat feet and plantar fasciitis.


Insoles provide cushioning and support for the entire foot, helping to alleviate discomfort caused by standing or walking for long periods.

Heel Cups and Cushions

These devices focus on the heel area, providing support and shock absorption to reduce the impact on the heel and relieve pain associated with conditions like heel spurs and plantar fasciitis.

Benefits of Foot Orthotics

Foot orthotics offer a range of benefits, including:

Pain Relief

By correcting biomechanical imbalances and providing support, orthotics can alleviate pain and discomfort associated with various foot conditions.

Improved Foot Function: Orthotics can help correct abnormal foot mechanics, enhancing stability and promoting more efficient movement.

Shock Absorption

Cushioning materials used in orthotics help reduce the impact on the feet during walking or running, minimizing the risk of injury and discomfort.

Pressure Redistribution

Orthotics can redistribute pressure across the foot, relieving pressure points and reducing the risk of calluses and ulcers.

Enhanced Comfort

By providing cushioning and support, orthotics can make shoes more comfortable, especially for individuals who spend long periods on their feet.

How to Do Foot Orthotics Work?

Foot orthotics support the foot’s natural structure and biomechanics, helping maintain proper alignment and function. They achieve this by:

Providing Arch Support

Orthotics can support the foot’s natural arch, preventing excessive flattening or rolling inwards (overpronation), leading to various foot problems.

Controlling Motion

Orthotics can control abnormal foot motion, such as excessive pronation or supination, helping to improve overall foot function and reduce the risk of injury.

Redistributing Pressure

By redistributing pressure across the foot, orthotics can help alleviate pressure points and minimize the development of calluses, ulcers, and other skin irri


Cushioning and Shock Absorption

The materials used in orthotics, such as foam or gel, can provide cushioning and shock absorption, reducing the impact on the feet during walking or running.

Accommodating Foot Deformities

Orthotics can accommodate foot deformities, such as bunions or hammertoes, relieving pain and discomfort associated with these conditions.

Choosing the Right Foot Orthotics

When selecting foot orthotics, consider the following factors:

Consult a Professional

If you have persistent foot pain or a general foot condition, consult a podiatrist or other healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and recommendation on the most appropriate type of orthotic for your needs.

Determine Your Needs

Assess your specific needs, such as pain relief, support, or accommodation of a foot deformity, to guide your choice of orthotics.

Consider Your Foot Type

Different foot types, such as flat feet, high arches, or neutral arches, may require different orthotics. Understanding your foot type can help you select the most suitable orthotic.

Choose the Right Material

Consider the materials used in the orthotic, as they can affect comfort, support, and durability. Custom-made orthotics typically use higher-quality materials, while OTC orthotics may use more inexpensive materials, such as foam or gel.

Try Before You Buy: Whenever possible, try on the orthotics in your shoes to ensure they fit comfortably and provide the desired level of support.

Be Patient

It may take time for your feet to adjust to the new orthotics, so allow for a break-in period and follow any recommendations your healthcare professional provides.


Foot orthotics can significantly enhance comfort, support, and function for individuals with various foot conditions or biomechanical issues. By understanding the different types of orthotics, their benefits, and how they work, you can make an informed decision when choosing the right pair for your needs. If you have persistent foot pain or specific concerns, consult a healthcare professional, and take the time to find the orthotics that best suit your unique requirements. Give your feet the care and support they deserve with the help of foot orthotics.

For more details about what custom orthotics can do for your feet and your overall health, contact the experts at Bayshore Podiatry located in Tampa, FL.  They will provide you with a proper diagnosis, fit, and recommended treatment plan to get you on the path to pain-free feet!

Achilles Tendon
Ankle Pain
Ankle Sprains
Athlete's Foot
Arthritic Foot Pain
Diabetic Foot Treatment
Diabetic Shoes
Flat Feet
Foot and Ankle Fracture
Foot and Ankle Surgery
Foot Orthotics
Foot Pain
Fungal Toenails
Geriatric Foot Care
Hammer Toes
Heel Spurs
Heel Pain
Ingrown Toenails
Keryflex™ Nail Restoration System
Lapiplasty® 3D Bunion Correction
Leneva Injections
MLS Laser Therapy
Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar Warts
Sports Medicine
What is Podiartist
Wound Care Treatment