Orthotics are shoe inserts that are used to reduce pain by correcting the way you're walking. Just like glasses, orthotics aren't as as easy as "one size fits all", what's best for you is individual and based on managing the problem you have. Orthotics may feel strange at first, but should not be painful, if they are it's a good sign something's wrong! 

Depending on you, and your pain, orthotics are generally paired with a program of other therapies such as skin management, medication suggestions, activity modifications, stretching, strengthening, footwear changes, acupuncture, or exercise prescription.

Soft Orthotics

Softer devices are used to redistribute pressure and cushion. They are used when there is a pressure point foot that is causing pain with an ongoing callous or wound. 

functional orthotics

More rigid devices, or functional orthotics, are used to control movements in parts of your anatomy that are being overloaded and causing pain, and come in may different materials sizes and densities so they are fit for purpose. Just like a cast reduces the load on a broken bone by reducing the movement, taking the pressure off your sore tendon or joint will reduce its load and lessen the pain. If the device is too soft though, the foot flattens the device and there is no reduction of load, therefore minimal reduction in pain.

We firstly need to diagnose the issue, then review your walking pattern, muscle and joint range of motion in your legs and feet to piece together what is causing pain. This is known as your biomechanics, the branch of physics that studies the structure and function of the way you move and interact with the ground. Most commonly ailments we treat are bunion pain, arch pain, heel pain, knee pain, shin splints, back pain, stress fractures and even corns and callouses.

Given that pain can be caused by injury, footwear, doing too much too quickly, and/or overuse, the aim of the orthotic is to reduce stress of tissues that are being overworked. This is generally only one part of the puzzle, and is paired with medication suggestions, activity modifications, stretching, strengthening, footwear changes, acupuncture, or exercise prescription.

orthotic friendly shoes

Adding an orthotic into the mix can sometimes be challenging the first time. You will have no issues with joggers, remembering that the innersole in the jogger is there for padding, so if it feels too tight with the orthotic, take it out entirely, or just put the front half in and the orthotic at the back. 

For fashion shoes, there are most definitely options, use the guidelines in our Shoes page to get some ideas, and take the orthotics with you when you're shopping. Other than sourcing footwear at traditional footwear retailers, these three options that are fantastic, producing fashion-forward stylish shoes for people who have foot pain and need to wear orthotics:

  • Bared Footwear (men and women) was started by Anna Baird, a Melbourne Podiatrist who developed Melbourne-stylish comfy shoes that also worked with orthotics. Other than their great online store, their Sydney store in Pitt Street has a Podiatrist in store to assist with fittings. 
  • Frankie4 (women) was developed by a podiatrist-physio duo in Brisbane who creates fashion forward day-to-day staples and work options. Their stores are in Brisbane, and they have stockists all over Sydney.
  • Ziera (women) transformed from the old Kumfs into funky styles for women of all ages. They’re great if you have trouble finding the correct width and are also available in department stores.