Once you have your orthotics what should you do to enhance their effectiveness?
1. Break them in slowly. It’s actually the feet and lower extremity that need to be broken in. The ideal is to start with one hour the first day and add an hour a day of standing or walking. If there is pain anywhere, slow down the break-in. Do not exercise in them (except for walking) in the first week. Your first exercise session with the orthotics should be less intense than usual. There is no rush. Big changes will be occuring throughout many of your major skeletal structures. Your orthotics are working to undo damage which may have taken years in the making.
2.Watch for positive and negative adjustment signs. Positive signs include temporary muscle soreness and reduction in symptoms. Negative signs include worsening of pain in any joint, arch discomfort in the devices, onset of callousing on pressure points, difficulty walking and the awareness that the orthotics don’t feel comfortable. Watch for localized swelling and pain in the metatarsal area – orthotics have been known to cause stress fractures in extreme cases.
3. Be willing to wear the shoes that work best with orthotics. The shoes should hold the orthotic and foot in your shoe snugly. Usually a lace-up shoe with moderate to deep heel-seats work well. Avoid shoes with open heels, heels over 1 inch or those which cause your orthotics to rock over the arch area. Some shoes – such as sandals and slippers may completely negate the therapeutic value of your orthotics. Your orthotics should fit in the shoes easily without being wedged against the sides of the shoe. Generally speaking, the shoe insole comes out so the orthotic is functioning on a flat surface. You may need to add a flat cushioned insole to replace the cushioning if the shoe is no longer comfortable with just the orthotic.
4. Wear the orthotics as much of your standing and walking time as possible and for all exercise. Most people can get away with wearing dress shoes and sandals without the orthotics for short periods of time.
5. Return to the prescriber of the orthotics if there are problems. Minor modifications will often alleviate most problems. If you are not happy with your orthotics it is crucial that you return to the prescriber (the medical person who suggested them) and the provider (either your podiatrist or orthotic shop) to let them know.