Types of Orthotics

Foot orthotics typically fall into three categories:

Functional –
Functional foot orthotics are rigid devices that are designed to correct abnormal foot biomechanics and the resulting lower extremity malfunctions. Functional orthotics are mainly designed to control motion in two major foot joints located directly below the ankle joint. Functional orthotics are often used to improve or eliminate pain in the legs, thighs and lower back due to abnormal foot function.

Accommodative –
Accommodative foot orthotics provide a protective cushion while minimizing stress and pain. Accommodative orthotics are soft devices that help to absorb shock, improve balance and relieve pressure from uncomfortable or sore areas on the feet. They are usually constructed of soft, compressible materials. Accommodative orthotics are used for conditions involving arthritis or a lack of fatty tissue protecting the foot as well as for people with diabetic foot deformities.

Semi-Rigid –
Semi-rigid foot orthotics combine the properties of functional and accommodative orthotics. Semi-rigid orthotics overlap the two categories to provide both corrective and shock-absorbing qualities. Semi-rigid sports orthotics compensate for imperceptible imbalances, thus reducing fatigue and promoting efficient muscle function to enhance athletic performance.

Foot orthotics are often prescribed along with additional therapies such as stretching and strengthening exercises. Based on a biomechanical examination, the foot care professional then prescribes foot orthotics that work best to correct abnormalities and assist in the healing process. Since prescription foot orthotics are designed specifically to the individual’s biomechanics, they have greater capacity to successfully treat foot and spinal conditions than any prefabricated alternative.