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Foot orthoses and insoles

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Foot Orthoses

Foot Orthoses are medical devices designed to go inside your footwear, some are prefabricated and follow generic shapes or designs, others are customised to you, either through modification of a prefabricated device, or through a process of scanning or casting the feet to make a more bespoke device.

There are many different materials that can be used in the manufacture of foot orthoses with varying densities and properties that can alter the feel, comfort and affect of the device. There are also many modifications that can be applied to devices to alter their shape and function and their impact on the forces going through your feet or injured parts of your body.

Historically, a lot of emphasis has been placed on foot orthoses “supporting” the “Arches” of the feet and “aligning” the feet, and these terms and descriptions are often still used to help explain the purpose of foot orthoses.

We do now know that this is not specifically how or why orthoses help people. The benefits people find seem to come from the way that foot orthoses impact the forces or stresses going through certain tissues of the body (bones, joints, soft tissues, nerves) which means that foot orthoses could help your pains and problems without obviously “supporting the arch” or “changing the alignment” of your feet.

The prescription of foot orthoses is a heavily researched and debated topic among podiatrists with decisions being based on clinical tests, observations of your foot shape and function, and often gait analysis, pressure analysis and other digital systems.

Traditional techniques offered by some podiatrists can produce clinical results just as positive as the outcomes from digital or computerised techniques, based on the level of competency of the practitioner.

The future of foot orthoses may be leading more towards 3D printing due to the speed of manufacture and the ability to alter the stiffness of the device and the design characteristics very easily.

There are many prefabricated foot orthoses that you can buy yourself from shops or online. Frequently people attend our clinics with a bag full of orthoses they have bought online which have not helped them because they needed something more customised to their problem.

We generally advise that you get an assessment from a Podiatrist so they can discuss options with you as foot orthoses are medical devices.

If you have foot orthoses, here is some important safety information about them.


Insoles are simply the inner liners of shoes or footwear. They can often be removed and replaced to make footwear more comfortable or there are thermal or deodorant version available for sale which some people find useful for their respective properties.

Often the insole of your footwear can be used by a podiatrist to observe high pressure areas under your feet, and we often add padding or make modifications to these liners to see if we can reduce forces and stress going into painful or injured areas of the feet. If these modifications help, it may be a good way for a podiatrist to see if more permanent customised insoles or foot orthoses are a good option for you too.

Foot Orthoses and Insoles