Custom vs. Over-the-Counter Orthotics

The feet are an incredibly complex part of the body. The way you stand, walk, and run has a direct impact on the body. Foot discomfort and pain cause people to change their posture, adding stress to other body parts, like the ankles, knees, hips, and lower back, potentially causing joint problems or exacerbating existing ones.

How can orthotics help?

Many people who have such problems find relief from orthotics. Doctors and physical therapists can recommend OTC or custom orthotics depending on the specific case. The quality makes a huge difference to the outcome.
This article compares the two most common types of orthotics. They both have pluses and minuses. In the end, you’ll be able to make the most informed decision for your needs.


Service industry employees, athletes, and other people who are often on their feet are more vulnerable to injury because of how much stress is exerted. Over-the-counter shoe insoles can cushion and support the foot, bringing some comfort and relief. However, they don’t give the feet the support they really need.
OTC orthotics are mass-produced and sold. They fit the general public and don’t cater to specific foot shapes and peculiarities. They distribute the stress on the foot evenly. Effectively, they are not reducing stress. Custom-made foot orthotics, on the other hand, reduce the overall strain. They also decrease the risk of injury. OTC options can’t do this because they don’t fit your specific foot.


You’ll find Over The Counter inserts look really nice. They are soft and have a lovely arch. They’re very easy to get used to and might relieve your discomfort, at least initially. However, they are made of soft, malleable material, which will wear down quickly. They need to be replaced every year. Once they’re worn down, they are just an insert in the shoe, and you can’t expect them to do much.
Being as soft as they are, you won’t get much support when you’re putting your whole body weight on them. They are more affordable than custom orthotics, but many health plans cover these.

Adjustment Time

When you have an orthotic custom-made for your unique feet, they will need more time to get used to. At first, you might struggle to adjust. They are intended to fully support the foot in a way that doesn’t harm the rest of your body. You start by wearing them for an hour a day. They can be very uncomfortable at the beginning. You might even get blisters.
Custom-made orthotics can help adjust your feet into a position that will improve your posture and gait long-term. They can help mitigate the adverse effects of conditions such as shin splints, metatarsalgia, plantar fasciitis, and more. They will contribute to a permanent solution unless drastic changes occur, like considerable weight gain or growth. OTC inserts, on the other hand, are a very temporary solution.


Producers of custom-made orthotics create a three-dimensional model of your foot and manufacture inserts for your specific needs. They can be made by clinicians or large companies. They are semi-rigid and provide adequate support when you walk, jog, run, or stand. The rigidity enables them to correct any misalignment and reduce the stress on the bones, soft tissue, and ligaments throughout the body.


As mentioned, custom-made foot orthotics are more expensive. This is only to be expected, considering how much time and effort goes into creating a custom-made insole. This includes determining what kind of support you need, analyzing the foot structure, and making a mold of your foot. A worker’s orthotic will be completely different from an athlete’s orthotic.
In the short term, over-the-counter orthotics are much cheaper but ineffective. Long-term treatment options will be much more expensive than a pair of custom-made orthotics. It is an investment in your health.

Signs of a quality product

To determine whether you’ll be getting a quality product, consider who makes the orthotics, what materials they use, and the duration of the product. Talk to people who wear custom-made orthotics and research the producer’s reputation. Mobility on Mainway makes and delivers custom-made orthotic inserts using 3D printing. Mobility on Mainway has thousands of satisfied customers.
Quality insoles will last very long. Even if you wear them every day, they will last years. Even children can benefit from custom-made orthotics. They will last at least two years because the supportive part of the insole covers the slower-growing foot bones.
The majority of healthcare plans will cover up to 100% of these products, making them a much better choice than their OTC counterparts. Even if they are not fully covered, the big difference in price is worth paying. The quality of the materials accounts for this. Some custom orthotics are made from the polyolefin family, a group of durable plastic, and range from very flexible to relatively rigid.
Others are made of graphite, which is thinner and lighter than plastics. Harder plastic or graphite is complemented by neoprene or another cushioning material to increase comfort, but softer materials never form the core structure of the insert.

Get a pair of custom foot orthotics from Mobility on Mainway today

While OTC orthotics can provide quick relief of certain types of pain, a tailor-made pair will have long-term benefits for many conditions. If you have a lot of foot pain or experience difficulty walking, ask your doctor or foot therapist about custom orthotics.
Our team is specially trained to help determine the cause of your problem and meet your specific needs.


Contact Mobility on Mainway

If you would like to talk to a specialist, contact Mobility on Mainway by filling out the contact form below or calling us to speak with our team.

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