• Dr. Jennifer Nicole Falk

Over-the-Counter or Custom Orthotics: Which are Right for You?



These days, it seems just as difficult to find the right orthotics (sometimes referred to as shoe inserts), as it is to find the right pair of shoes for your feet. With what appears to be an endless number of over-the-counter (OTC) orthotic brands, styles, and colors, it can make any person feel overwhelmed and uncertain. And then the question becomes, whether an OTC orthotic will be sufficient or you need a customized orthotic.

So, before you run to the store and spend hundreds of dollars on several different pairs of orthotics to find out that none are appropriate for your foot type or condition, read below to gain little insight into the differences between OTC and custom-made orthotics (CMOs), the benefits of each, and a few things you can look for when trying on OTC inserts to make sure they fit correctly.

Differences Between OTC & Custom Orthotics


How to Know If OTC Orthotics May Work For Your Feet


It is always best to have a shoe store expert, or healthcare professional, fit you for orthotics ​​because not all of the below recommendations will apply to every person; however, there are a few tips you can take with you the next time you are in the store shopping for OTC orthotics.​​​​


  • The orthotic should have an arch incorporated into it. It should not be flat.​​​​

  • The orthotic arch height should meet your foot arch height. This should be checked by an expert as your foot needs to be positioned correctly to accurately evaluate this.​

  • The orthotic arch needs to be fairly rigid, meaning that if you stand ​​​​on the orthotic, it does ​​not collapse. If ​​the arch collapses when you stand on it, it is not ​​supporting your arch.​​

  • With orthotics and shoes on, your feet should be in a neutral position (not rolling in or ​​rolling out too much). Most often, OTC orthotics are not supportive enough so the foot ends up looking like it is still rolled in, even with the orthotic in place. This suggests that a custom orthotic may be more beneficial.​​​​

Last Remarks

When trying on orthotics, and after you buy them, take out the current insert in your shoe and replace it with the new one (if the orthotic is full-length). That way, your foot does not fill up the shoe, and you don’t need to go up a half-size in shoe length.

Regardless of the orthotics you end up purchasing, it is important to break them in slowly. They not only support your feet and help them to function more efficiently, but they can also help realign your entire lower extremities, but you do not want them to do this too quickly. It’s important to make slow adjustments so that your body can get used to its new, more corrected position. Therefore, start wearing them 1-2 hours for the first 1-2 days, then increase by an hour a day before you are able to wear them full-time. This may take 1-2 weeks. If you continue to have pain, return to your doctor for re-evaluation.

DISCLAIMER: The above information is meant for educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Should you have questions or concerns about your health, please contact the doctor, or your own healthcare professional.

#orthotics #customorthotics #overthecounterorthotics #shoeinserts #footpain

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