Off the Shelf versus Custom Made Orthotics Debate Heats Up!

There has always been robust debate in the podiatry profession regarding the use of custom made orthotics.

Practising podiatrists commonly use orthotics, with good effect, as part of the treatment tool kit to help patients with a range of foot & ankle related problems.

Although, researchers evidence provided on the topic suggests that the race between custom made orthotics and over the counter (or off the shelf) orthotics is very close.

A recent European review, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (full journal article here –, showed that orthoses used in treatment of plantar heel pain showed little difference in the results using both types of orthotics.

This review is in slight contrast to an Australian report (you can read here – which included the same studies that found custom orthotics were effective compared to OTC orthotics in the medium term.

Each review used similar methods, but the differences in research approaches relating to pain measurses resulted in differing statistical signifigance.

It seems that the discussion between what is a more effective treatment, custom or OTC orthotics, for the moment will continue.

Orthotics will play a role in the treatment kit of Podiatrists around the world in providing comfort to those with foot and ankle issues.

Podiatrists have long argued that custom made orthotics tend to deliver better results as patients have unique:

  • Height;
  • Weight;
  • Activities;
  • Footwear;
  • Biomechanics & Gait.

Custom made orthotics have other added benefits including fit to footwear, durability of premium materials, comfort and even color.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *