Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a great treatment option for those suffering from heel pain. If you’d like to learn more about plantar fasciitis treatments including massage or shoes there’s heaps of content on our blog.
If you don’t know what is causing your heel pain you can find out in less than a minutes with our free online heel pain test.
How orthotics work for plantar fasciitis
There are two main ways that orthotics can aid in the treatment of plantar fasciitis:
- They can provide support to take away the load from your plantar fascia
- They can provide that cushiony goodness that your sore heels crave
Your amazing pair of inserts can be built so that they cup the fat pad in your feet, bunching it under your heel like your body’s own self-made heel pillow. They can also have a layer of gel, or a really soft top cover material so you feel like you’re walking on clouds! Sometimes, slipping in that spongy insole is all you need to improve your day, your week, your month, or even your year! That cushiony, pillowy, spongy orthotic, it’ll be there for you!
However, from a structural perspective, orthotics work differently for different feet. In high arched feet, plantar fasciitis can be attributed to increased compressive load on the plantar fascia. Orthotics can help distribute that load more evenly throughout the foot by providing comfortable contouring of the high arch shape. For those lower arched, flatter feet where tensile load on the plantar fascia is heightened, orthotics can structurally support the plantar fascia so it isn’t pulled or stretched beyond its capacity.
This begs the question, how do you make sure you end up in the right pair of orthotics for you?
And just generally, what orthotics are good for plantar fasciitis?
The foot orthotic industry has been growing for decades. The local chemist has a whole section dedicated to a myriad of off-the-shelf orthotics, each claiming to cure your plantar fasciitis in one way or another. I’ve seen many patients who have noticed an improvement after purchasing one of these affordable options. Combined with good shoes and a great home exercise program, some cushioning and generic arch support may be your solution.
If that’s you, awesome! But it may not be you. And that’s where the world of custom orthotic manufacturing comes in!
As mentioned earlier, different feet require different levels and approaches to load optimisation when it comes to offloading that plantar fascia. After visiting the podiatrist and having an in-depth biomechanical assessment, your podiatrist will have a super specific understanding of the ways in which your unique foot needs to be supported. Orthotic prescription is an intricate, complicated process – that’s why it takes 4 years to obtain a podiatry degree!
Once the podiatrist has completed your assessment, a 3D scan of your foot will be taken and sent off to the lab along with your custom prescription. The scan and script will then be married together to build your own 3D printed custom foot orthotics.
So what orthotics are good for plantar fasciitis, you ask? For some, the $20 chemist option is a great success! For others, a professional eye and a customised 3D printed foot orthotic will achieve the best results.
Where to buy orthotics
The best place to buy orthotics for plantar fasciitis is from your experienced and expert podiatrist. You podiatrist won’t sell you any old orthotic, they will prescribe your orthotics for plantar fasciitis.
Prescription of orthotics from a podiatrist is the highest level of therapy you can get inside your shoes. Podiatrists spend more time at university learning about custom foot orthotics in Australia than any other profession. If you couple that with the expertise of the PridePlus Health team where our podiatrists are leaders in the orthotic field, your plantar fasciitis pain will be a thing of the past.
We have La Trobe University staff members, a Footwork Podiatric Laboratory staff member and running coaches from Runfix. With our commitment to research, clinical practice, and above all else, you, our loved clients you can be confident that your orthotics for plantar fasciitis from PridePlus Health will work for you.
Alternatively you can run the gauntlet at the chemist. Walk the foot care aisle and pick out an orthotic that sounds like it will be a miracle cure. And you never know – it might just be? But when I need something prescribed to me and I pick it up from the chemist I don’t just turn up and grab any old packet of pills. I see my expert doctor, get my prescription, and get the right medicine for me. Buying orthotics for plantar fasciitis is the exact same principal.
Will orthotics fix my heel pain?
After just learning about orthotics for plantar fasciitis and how they work, you’d now be well aware that unfortunately, most of these questions don’t have a simple yes/no answer. Let’s break this one down into custom made and off-the-shelf orthotics.
Will custom made orthotics fix my plantar fasciitis?
Custom foot orthotics are fantastic at addressing the biomechanical factors contributing to overloading of the plantar fascia and subsequent plantar fasciopathy. However, we’re not just about optimising load by reducing compressive or tensile forces. As podiatrists we are also in the business of increasing capacity. Your custom orthotics will work best when housed in an awesome pair of stable shoes, but they’ll also be perfectly complemented by a carefully constructed home exercise program. These tailored exercises are designed to strengthen the surrounding structures that help stabilise and support the foot and arch, so the plantar fascia is assisted in its role. The best ‘fix’ for your plantar fasciitis is likely to consist of a combination of therapies, including custom foot orthotics, a home exercise program and good footwear!
Will off-the-shelf orthotics fix my plantar fasciitis?
You’re bound to experience some pain relief when you slip these into your shoes. Those heavenly few steps that mimic the euphoria of crawling into bed after a long day of work. However, as we now know, it is unlikely that an off-the-shelf device will adequately address the underlying biomechanical components contributing to your injury. As such, if you’re seeking long-term pain relief and fundamental improvements to stability and strength, a visit to your podiatrist is certainly warranted!
Orthotics for plantar fasciitis FAQ
Do you need orthotic inserts?
Orthotic inserts able to reduce the load on over worked tissues or parts of your body. If you’re sore in your feet, ankle or legs then there is a good chance that an orthotic (when prescribed correctly) can reduce your pain. So do you need orthotic inserts? Well, if you’re in pain and you’d like to reduce your symptoms then an orthotic can be an effective part of your treatment plan.
How to shop for the best insoles for plantar fasciitis?
Let’s ask this question a little differently. How do you shop for your prescription medications? We don’t shop for medications, they’re complex and have so many different actions, interactions and contraindications. If we “bought” the wrong medicine we could become very ill or worse. Well, when it comes to shopping for the best insoles for plantar fasciitis, the risks aren’t quite as severe as taking the wrong medicine, but the principles are the same.
The right orthotic for you will be comfortable and help you achieve your goals. The wrong orthotic won’t. At best you’ll have wasted your money, at worst your pain or another injury can occur.
So avoid shopping for an insole or orthotic for your plantar fasciitis. Head to your expert podiatrist and have an assessment and an orthotic prescribed that is right for your needs. We guarantee our results so you don’t have to take the risk of your foot orthoses not helping.
Do arch supports make plantar fasciitis worse?
The wrong arch supports can make plantar fasciitis worse. This is because plantar fasciitis is caused by overworking your plantar fascia. Some people suffer with an overworked plantar fascia because of too much compression in their fascia from a movement known as pronation. These people are more likely to have a flat foot. Others can have the same pain and the same injury from too much compression from the opposite movement (supination). On standing these are your more high arched feet.
Both high arched and those of us with a flat foot can suffer from plantar heel pain and if your shoe inserts aren’t spot on for your feet they can make your plantar fasciitis worse.
Can custom orthotics cure plantar fasciitis?
As plantar fasciitis is not really a disease, more of an injury it’s hard to say that we are ever able to cure plantar fasciitis. Can you cure a broken arm? Not really. But you can heal your broken arm in the same way you can heal your plantar fasciitis.
Custom orthotics can play an integral role in healing plantar fasciitis as they can be prescribed to reduce the stress and strain on your plantar fascia to allow healing to occur.
They work best when combined with a program to build up strength and capacity in the plantar fascia, foot muscles and calf muscles. These exercises are crucial to speed up the healing process of plantar fasciitis to help you overcome your foot pain.
Do orthotics really help plantar fasciitis?
Orthotics really help plantar fasciitis. Once you have a clear diagnosis of plantar fasciitis and your podiatrist has identified why (not just the what) is happening you’ll be prepared to get a pair of orthotics to help you overcome your pain and achieve your goals.
Combining your foot orthotics with a plan that addresses all your risk factors leads to the best results. This includes wearing supportive shoes (the right shoe size), addressing your foot function or foot mechanics, and working with your physical therapy team.
How to diagnose plantar fasciitis?
A clinical diagnosis from your expert podiatrist is the best way to diagnose plantar fasciitis. As there are many different causes of plantar heel pain your podiatrist will be able to take you through a thorough clinical examination to determine your diagnosis.
From there you and you podiatrist can come up with a plan to take your plantar aponeurosis from it’s sore and overworked state back into it’s healthy functioning zone.
As a starting place you can complete our free online plantar heel pain test to get an idea if your pain is chronic plantar fasciitis or something else.
Why seeing your physiotherapist will help speed up your plantar fasciitis recovery?
Your physiotherapist can be one of the most helpful people in your quest to resolve your heel pain. As with many common foot complaints plantar fasciitis requires some active capacity building exercises.
Physiotherapists are excellent at determining the exact exercises you need to do, and the dosage of how much, how often to get your tissues strong. This is particularly important for those who have chronic plantar fasciitis where steroid injections provide no lasting relief.
At PridePlus Health we love helping people fix their heel pain.
Having our clients enjoy pain free feet is exciting for us every day. Not just because we hate pain. But also, we love hearing all the exciting things you get up to on your feet!
So come into clinic and let us help you fix your heel pain from plantar fasciitis, and tell us where your next adventure will be.