Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Jun 23, 2020

Choosing an orthotic shoe insert

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor




An orthotic is a device that goes into your shoe to help support the foot in various ways. Orthotics can provide cushioning, even out pressure, and control abnormal motion that might be causing discomfort or pain.

They’re used to help prevent, improve or accommodate a wide variety of foot problems. Orthotic devices are also used to help bring your feet, ankles and lower body into proper alignment.

There are two main categories to choose from:

  • Nonprescription shoe inserts — These prefabricated inserts can be found in many pharmacies, shoe stores and sporting goods stores. They can be made from a variety of materials ranging from soft to semirigid. Some can be heat molded to better fit the contours of your foot. Nonprescription options are often a good place to start if your doctor recommends a shoe insert to treat foot pain. Select one that feels comfortable right away — if it hurts or simply doesn’t feel right, it’s unlikely to get better with time.
  • Custom-molded prescription orthotics — These medical devices are prescribed by a doctor and are made from a mold or computer analysis of your foot. Custom orthotics are more expensive than nonprescription shoe inserts — check to see if they’re covered by your insurance. The Extra cost may be worth it if you need greater support or if you can’t find a nonprescription option that fits comfortably. Regardless of what type you choose, talk with your doctor first so that you can make sure you buy the right type of insert for the foot condition you’re trying to address.

Got a favorite shoe insert that has worked for you? Or other tips for making the feet feel good? Join the discussion at our Aging Well group.

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I have used nonprescription PowerStep Orthotic Inserts for many years. I learned about them from my son when I complained about my feet hurting while teaching, and when hiking. I get them from my local bike and fitness store and from my podiatrist(cheaper). High arches is my foot problem.


I have been wearing prescription Orthotic inserts for most of my 77 yrs., I spent a fortune on them, because they weren't covered by insurance. They were not payed for by insurance because they weren't considered a cure. It's to late for me now but I mostly wear athletic shoes with my orthotics and I,m somewhat comfortable.

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