Flat Feet Arch Support: OTC or Custom Orthotics?

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Are you continually struggling with footwear issues such as discomfort or unnecessary pain? Well, it might be the right time for you to consider the proper solution. Both OTC and Custom Orthotics are suitable for addressing such footwear issues. However, before settling one either, it’s essential to make an informed decision.  While these products might have similar functionalities, they often have different characteristics. The OTC is suitable for people with basic foot health complications, while custom orthotics are suitable for users with advanced complications. If you experience regular issues with footwear, then you might have to consider using these products. The shoe inserts are usually suitable for foot complications that can resolve themselves or through DIY. If you have a serve foot health complication, then it’s best that you consult with a certified medical professional.

What is OTC?

OTC refers to Over the Counter orthotics. Usually, these are specially made orthotics, that are designed to suit the needs of the general public. The medical practitioner often uses information and experience from other clients to develop the OTC. Before choosing the ideal OTC for your needs, it’s vital that you consider various important factors. They include:

  • Consider the purpose – there are various types of OTC products for shoes. You have to consider the unique functionalities of the OTC. Usually, some are designed to address issues such as bunions, while others are suitable for addressing flat feet.
  • Suitability for your every day shoe – the shoe OTC products also have to be compatible with your shoe structure. Otherwise, you may end up compromising the comfort of the shoe, and its overall structure as well. The shoe should also have the appropriate foot comfort features.
  • Doctors recommendation – if you tend to have serious footwear complications, then consider consulting with your medical health practitioner. They should provide useful insight into the ideal OTC to suit your foot health needs.
  • Seek advice from others – before investing in a particular OTC product, you may also benefit from consulting with other similar shoe users. Ask for advice on the functionalities of the OTC, and whether they can suit your long term footwear needs.

What are the Custom Orthotics?

Custom orthotics refer to personally manufactured devices to provide extra support for the feet. Usually, such solutions are developed for a specific user. They are designed to match their unique physical characteristics and specific pain complication. Once a podiatrist evaluates the feet, legs, and ankles, they can develop a suitable orthotics for your needs. Usually, such devices are classified into two sections:

  1. Functional orthotics – these are custom devices developed to correct unusual motion in the feet. Often, they are suitable for discomfort or pain arising from the unexpected motion. Among some of the common injuries treated with the custom, orthotics include tendinitis and shin splints.
  2. Accommodative orthotics – these refer to custom footwear that is designed to provide adequate cushioning for the feet. They are ideal for addressing issues such as feet ulcers, painful calluses, and various other issues.

In most cases, the orthotics are used to treat a host of unique foot health complications. The common ones include bursitis, tendinitis, foot ulcers, heel pain and more. Various conclusive studies have shown that medically prescribed orthotics can have a significant impact in managing the pain. More so, the orthotics also usually consist of special materials that can provide remarkable longevity benefits. The custom orthotics are often available at a higher cost than it’s counterparts. As such, they are often designated for advanced foot health complications.

Are they Different from Shoe Inserts?

While the OTC, custom orthotics and shoe inserts all have similar roles to play in foot health recovery, the shoe insert tends to be somewhat different. In particular, the shoe inserts are designed to suit almost any type of user, rather than a specific individual. The shoe inserts can range in various forms and types. Furthermore, they are also useful in treating multiple types of foot health complications. Among the common ones include flat arches, foot ailments, feet pain and more. You can easily find them at local stores. The most common types of shoe inserts include:

  • Foot cushions – these refer to specially padded materials that are designed to suit the needs of specific sections of the shoe.
  • Insoles – the insoles refers to special shoe inserts that provided added comfort to your shoe. Usually, the insoles cover the entire surface area of the heel.
  • Heel liners – otherwise referred to as heel cups, these shoe inserts are designed to provide added cushioning in the heel section. Usually, they are suitable for patients that suffer from foot pain caused by age-related thinning.

When to Visit a Podiatrist

If you are simply searching for sufficient cushioning or support, then consider investing in a shoe insert. Usually, the shoe inserts are simple to use and are readily available as well. However, if you feel like the shoe insert is not suitable for your foot discomfort issues, then you may have to visit a podiatrist. They will evaluate your overall foot health and provide an appropriate solution for your needs. In most cases, the podiatrist evaluates aspects such the biomechanics of the leg, and your motion as well. Furthermore, other professionals use advanced technology to assess the functionality of the feet when in motion. More so, if you come across any pain after the recovery process, ensure that you consult with a doctor for sufficient insight.


There is a significant difference between OTC and custom orthotics. Both of these products are suitable for correcting a host of unique foot health complications. However, they are not similar to shoe inserts, which are usually not medically approved. The OTC and custom orthotics requires evaluation from a medical professional. More so, both of these products are typically available at a higher cost than the shoe inserts. The benefit of using them is that they often provide significant relief from pain and discomfort. They are also suitable for addressing issues associated with the structure of the foot.

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