What’s custom about your custom orthotics?
Many people receive their custom orthotics thinking that they looks like something they could have just purchased for a lot less from the chemist. This is defiantly not the case. The same as glasses from the chest look the same as glasses from the options but both are very different. Each sense is made to each eye, just like orthotics are designed for each foot. Each glass frame is tailored to each persons use for example reading glasses will be different to sports glasses. Orthotics are the same, each is tailored to the activity you want to use them for and the shoes they are going into. If they were that simple podiatrists wouldn’t spend 4 years learning how to to prescribe them.
We thought we would just name a few things that we can tailor but remember that this is only a shorted list of everything that can be done.
The arch height
This is an obvious one. The arch height is tailored to your feet. Depending how much the podiatrists wants your foot to move and how much pressure they want to redistribute to other parts of your foot. This can be based on your injury, your foot flexibility, the shoes that you wear and more.
The widths of the orthotics heel and forefoot will help control your foot. Your foot needs to sit in the heel of your orthotics to help guide it. If it is too small it will dig into your foot. if its too large you’re foot will roll around on it. We also need to keep in mid of fitting it into the shoe. Too wide and it won’t fit. Your foots width change from non weight bearing to weight bearing. The podiatrist needs to work out how much and what shoe it will go into to decide the widths.
Podiatrists can chose what angles we put your foot at. This means the heel or foot forefoot angle can be tailored. So if your foot collapses inwards an angle is put on to roll it outwards, and if your foot rolls outward an angle may be put on to make it roll inwards. These angle are dependant on your injury, flexibility, structure of your lower limb and more.
If you need extra padding in places the podiatrist can decide where it needs it and what material to use. Usually if something is so you will need padding around the area and not under the area. This is to take pressure away from the sore area. There are lots of different ways todo this and lots of different materials that have different properties to decide from
Orthotics can be made from many different materials. EVA in many different densities, carbon fibre, pa12 nylon, pa11 nylon, poly propylene to name just a few. Each material has different properties and can be altered in many different ways. Podiatrists need to know what to use and when.
The thickness / flexibility
This is one of the most important factors when prescribing orthotics. The thickness of the orthotic will be one of the main properties to determine how flexible the orthotic is. Thing that will factor into this is the persons weight, flexibility, foot arch height, extra additions on the orthotics that affect the flex, the injury, the severity of the injury, the activity its being used for and more. This is usually changed in increments of 0.1mm
These are just the basic points of what can be done to customise your orthotics. The is a lot more you can do to change the design. Most designing is not done via 3d cad cam engineering software. Orthotics are then 3D printed using machines that cost upwards of $700k. These machines have a high accuracy and product a stable, durable product. Cheaper 3D printers do not yet have a material that can produce a product with the same strength and flex charactoristics.