What is the difference between Custom and over the counter (OTC) orthotics?

When considering whether to use custom foot orthotics versus over-the-counter (OTC) insoles, there are a few factors to take into account. Firs, it’s important to understand the difference between custom foot orthotics and OTC insoles. Custom foot orthotics are specially designed to meet the unique needs of an individual’s feet, whereas OTC insoles are pre-made and designed to fit a range of foot sizes and shapes. Custom foot orthotics are typically more expensive than OTC insoles.


OTC insoles may be a good option for people who:


  1. Have mild foot pain: If you have mild foot pain, OTC insoles may provide enough support to alleviate your symptoms.
  2. Want to reduce the chance of foot injuries: OTC insoles can help to provide additional support and cushioning to the feet during activities. 
  3. Are on a budget: OTC insoles are generally less expensive than custom orthotics and can still provide arch support; with a variety of designs to suit many foot types, conditions, and styles of footwear (athletic, casual, dress, ski boots, and skates).

Custom foot orthotics may be a good option for people who:

  1. Chronic pain: If you suffer from chronic pain in your feet, knees, hips or lower back, custom orthotics may be recommended by a healthcare professional. They could help to improve  your foot or gait mechanics that may be contributing to your pain.
  2. Foot deformities: If you have a foot deformity such as flat feet or high arches, custom foot orthotics may be recommended to help support your feet and improve your gait.
  3. Athletic performance: If you are an athlete or a highly active person, custom foot orthotics may be recommended to improve your performance and efficiency, as well as prevent injuries.
  4. Occupational requirements: If you have a job that requires you to stand or walk for long periods of time, custom foot orthotics may be recommended to help reduce fatigue and prevent foot pain.

So how do I know what’s right for me? 

Ultimately, the decision to use custom foot orthotics versus OTC insoles will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. An assessment with a Canadian Certified Pedorthist (C.ped) can yield invaluable insights into your specific lower body & foot biomechanics and help to determine what product may be right for you. If you’re experiencing chronic foot pain or have a foot deformity, it’s important to consult with a healthcare professional to determine whether custom foot orthotics may be necessary. 

If you still aren’t sure which is right for you, book an assessment with one of our Canadian Certified Pedorthist and let us help you Move Well, Be Well!


Also in the News: