The use of true prescription-level orthotics to aid in the treatment of foot ailments has steadily increased over the last thirty years. Commonly prescribed by podiatrists, sports medicine physicians, and other medical professionals, orthotics function to provide support for flat arches, shock absorption for high arches, and allow for an extensive amount of control to the pressures of the heel and the bottom of the foot. Because each orthotic is made specifically from a structurally corrected mold of the foot, the alteration and improvement of foot function is dramatically improved over that of less specific over-the-counter inserts and inserts made of a non-corrected mold of the foot. Each orthotic should ‘fit like a glove’, so to speak, and should be be completely comfortable to wear the entire day. Most people can begin wearing new orthotics without discomfort right from the start. However, there are a small amount of people who require a break-in period to get the feet used to standing on the inserts all day. This article discusses this break-in process, and how one can get the most out of their new orthotics in as little time as possible. You can get additional information at Barrie Orthotics
When new orthotics are uncomfortable to wear, it can be incredibly frustrating. Many people expect instant relief of foot discomfort, and this is understandable given the nature of foot pain and the costs sometimes incurred to get orthotics in the first place. Orthotics should not cause discomfort. One has to assume they were properly casted for in the first place, and the proper prescription was used to make additional modifications to the basic design based on the physician’s examination of the foot structure. One also has to assume the lab correctly fabricated the insert to the proper specifications. To instantly assume that either one of these steps were done incorrectly does not help what really must be done: a break-in period performed with patience and persistence. The frequency of improper casting, prescription writing, or manufacture of orthotics is usually quite low. These factors should only realistically be considered after all other measures have failed to provide lasting comfort.
The break-in period is a short span of time in which the foot becomes accustomed to the control that the orthotic is providing. In essence, a proper orthotic will provide gentle but firm support of the foot structures. This includes support of all the muscles and ligaments which have become lax during a lifetime of abnormal support. The orthotic will force these structures to realign properly. For some, this can cause a brief irritation of the lax tissue, or it can force some muscles to function properly for the first time. These actions can cause discomfort, and this will be felt while the orthotic is worn. A simple plan to gently introduce the foot to increased support is vital in making the orthotic comfortable to wear. When one first receives their orthotics, they should be worn immediately. When and if the orthotics become uncomfortable, they should be removed from the shoes. After several hours, they can be placed back in the shoe and used again until discomfort develops. Alternately, one can wait until the next day to try again. This cycle is to be repeated daily, with a longer wear time achieved each day. Eventually, after two or three weeks, the orthotics will no longer be uncomfortable. Another common strategy is to wear the orthotics for one hour the first day, and then increase the wear time by one hour each day that follows. In this author’s professional experience, it is very uncommon for a properly followed break-in period to fail providing a complete adjustment of the foot to the orthotic.