Footwear considerations when needing orthotics
When recommending foot orthoses as part of a treatment plan, I always give consideration to patient’s footwear. Footwear can often be the underlying cause of foot pain, but may also be part of the treatment.
There would be no point in prescribing orthotics for someone who only wears thongs or ballet flats. In these cases, management of a mechanically related foot pathology, first needs to address footwear.
What to look for in orthotic friendly footwear
In order to accommodate orthotics, deeper shoes will be required. If the shoes do not have adequate depth, the foot will sit too high in the heel cup causing slippage and excessive rubbing. May shoes these days have a manufacturers innersole which can be removed to provide the additional depth required. An obvious example would be runners (most will accommodate orthotics without needing to go up a size), but other dressier options also offer this feature.
Getting the orthotic into the shoe is a great start, but doesn’t mean the shoes are going to be suitable. If the shoe is made with very soft materials it may become distorted by the addition of an orthotic. The orthotic will be less effective in pushing up and supporting your foot. The orthotic and the shoe need to work together, in providing a supportive platform for your chosen activity. The orthotic should not slide around and should sit snuggly into the back of the heel. For this reason, I would avoid slip on footwear in preference for shoes that can be fastened securely around the front of the ankle.
It’s all about compromise
If you love thongs, your ballet flats, or 6 inch stiletto heels, a compromise will need to be reached. I suggest limiting use to times when you are not expecting to be on your feet for very long. Some thongs offer a bit of arch support (the “Fitflop” for example), which is better that nothing in most cases. Consider dropping your heel height, and swapping into your heels for occasions that require a dressier look, swapping back into your flats around the office, or on breaks. The aim is to be wearing your orthotics in appropriate shoes for the majority of time. But this will depend on the reason your orthotics were prescribed, and your underlying foot problem. Some people will only need to wear their orthotics for certain more physically demanding activities like running. Others will pull up sore if they go without them for just a few hours. You should seek advice from your podiatrist when commencing orthotic therapy, and at subsequent review visits.
Where to find orthotic friendly footwear
If it’s runners you are looking for, there should be no problem. I always recommend the Athletes Foot or Runners Shop in Phillip for their expert advice and fitting service. For shoes, Escala in Manuka have a range of options including Frankie4 footwear. Frankie4 are stylish shoes and boots suited for the fashion conscious and are designed by podiatrists and physios. Redpath’s in Garema Place, Civic also offer a good range of trendy options from Doc Martins to Naots. Just a few doors down, also in Garema Place, is Frawleys Shoes. Frawleys have been a household name in Canberra for as long as I can remember, and stock Ziera (previously known as Kumfs but recently rebranded to be a little less old ladyish). Homypeds also have an orthotic friendly range. Cooleman Court Pharmacy- Weston Creek, Colbee Court Pharmacy- Phillip and Pharmasave Woden are all stockists.
Still having problems?
If you are still unable to find anything suitable, it might be time to consider medical grade or custom made footwear. We use Gadean Shoes and Sole Support and are recognised prescribers for the Department of Veteran Affairs. We also have a range of Dr Comfort footwear for sale at our Tuggeranong Clinic.
If your footwear fitting problems are associated with foot deformity, it would be worth consulting with Dr Clayton Clews, Podiatric surgeon, to see if there is a surgical solution.