Shoes Inserts or Custom Orthotics | Triad Foot & Ankle Center

Shoe Inserts vs. Custom Orthotics: What’s the Big Difference?

insole shoe

Should I get over-the-counter shoe inserts or splurge for custom orthotics?  This is a common question thousands of Americans living with foot pain ask themselves every day. While many people opt to grab a pair of shoe inserts from their local drug store, citing price and the power of instant purchasing as key factors in their decision, they may be losing money in the long run while not improving their condition.

“What many consumers don’t realize is that not everyone falls into that perfect number or style of inserts supplied at your local store—nor does it mean that it’s actually the right fit for you,” says Burlington podiatrist, Dr. Todd Hyatt at Triad Foot Center.

“Shoe inserts and custom orthotics are like comparing apples to oranges,” Dr. Hyatt explains. “The major difference is that store-bought shoe inserts are made for the mass population and not specifically for you.  Many over-the-counter shoe inserts advertise that they are ‘custom,’ but the truth is unless they are prescribed by a doctor, they’re not really customized at all.”

Custom orthotics are created after a podiatrist has conducted a complete evaluation of your feet, ankles, and legs.  A custom orthotic is then prescribed to perfectly mold to your unique foot shape and pathology.  They last 2-3 years, whereas over-the-counter shoe inserts last a mere 3 months.

Plantar fasciitis, bursitis, tendinitis, diabetic foot ulcers, and foot, ankle, and heel pain are some of the common ailments which lead patients to seek the comfort of orthotics. If you are experiencing pain, you should always consult your podiatrist before purchasing any type of shoe insert, as it could be the result of a much bigger issue.

Triad Foot Center has three locations in the Triad—Greensboro, Burlington and Asheboro. Visit or call 336-375-6990 to book your appointment to begin living your life foot pain-free.

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