Custom Foot Orthotics Showdown

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All Custom Foot Orthotics are NOT Created Equal!™

-WELCOME-

-Let’s Kick Off this Review of "Custom" on the Right Foot-

Folks, if you walk into a store and buy something off-the-shelf... NOT CUSTOM!

If you order something from Amazon or ANYWHERE Else On-Line... NOT CUSTOM! woman holding hands in air as if to say, "Really?"

-CUSTOM MEANS MADE FROM SCRATCH-

Pre-made products are not custom and most certainly are never made specific to the needs of any particular individual.Feet are not identicalSpecific Individual Needs?

1. Body Weight,
2. Authentic Foot Alignment,
3. Measurable Foot Flexibility, and
4. Activity Level.

-Body Weight-
Body weight is simply how much you weigh.

-Optimal Foot Alignment-
26 bones come together to create 33 joints in each foot.

There are over 1 million possible combinations for these bones and joints.

Herein lies the importance of making a non weight bearing 3-D impression of each foot.

Capturing each foots authentic arch-up alignment is essential in the design of a custom product as this will be the shape of the plastic shell your foot sits upon.

-Measurable Foot Flexibility-
Specifically, the measurable amount of flexibility determined via Gib’s test.

A person with a very flexible foot requires more support and control whereas a person with a stiff foot requires less support.

-Activity Level-
A more active person simply requires more support than a person walking around in dress shoes.

A football player wouldn’t wear the same custom orthotic as a ballerina, nor would a runway model wear the same custom orthotic as a tennis player.

How to Select the Right Fit Custom Orthotic

A quick Google search for custom orthotics returns 898,000 results.

Since there are literally hundreds of products labeled custom to choose from, it would take forever to review each and every one.

Instead, we’re going to choose some of the more popular custom orthotics available for purchase and, based on the established criteria, write a review for each.

This way, regardless of brand name, style, color, price, or fancy printouts and equipment, you’ll be able to perform the same type of review and be confident in your decision to purchase what's best for you.

Pre-mades include, but are not limited to (because this list would be gigantic):
Aetrex
ArchCrafters
Archmolds™
Dr. Scholl’s
Foot Shox
GCF
Good Feet
MegaComfort
MMAR
Orthaheel
Powerstep
ProFoot®
Spenco
SuperFeet
WalkFit® Platinum

Review Criteria:

1. Made from Scratch?
2. Made Specific to Body Weight?
3. Made Specific to Foot Alignment?
4. Made Specific to Foot Flexibility?
5. Made Specific to Activity Level?
6. Cost?

Our Showdown Begins with those products that meet the fewest criteria and work up to the best - those that meet the most.

WalkFit Platinum

According to WalkFit, “These special orthotics were designed to relieve you of heel pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis by actually fixing your posture. It doesn’t matter whether you are walking, running or just standing, these orthotics will work no matter what. They will redistribute your weight evenly, provide the necessary support for your arch and thus reduce the pressure and relieve you of heel pain.”

Made from Scratch? No.

Made Specific to Body Weight? No.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? No.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? No.

Made Specific to Activity Level? No.

Cost? $10 to $40.

Overall Impression:
This is a pre-made and inexpensive arch support. Fails to meet the definition of custom!

Here’s some additional benefits touted by WalkFit:
1. Aligns back and shoulders;
2. Relieves lower back pain;
3. Reduces stress on knee joints;
4. Balances hips for easier movement; and,
5. Cradles feet for improved stability.

Wow!!! Those are some HUGE CLAIMS for a product that meets ZERO individual specific criteria.

You know what they say… “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is!”

Buyer Beware!

Foot Smart

Made from Scratch? No.

Made Specific to Body Weight? No.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? Not exactly. There are 3 options: flat arch, normal arch and high arch.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? No.

Made Specific to Activity Level? Not exactly. You choose the type of shoe you plan to place this insole inside of.

Cost? $13 to $120.

Overall Impression:
Search the word ‘orthotics’ on the footsmart.com website and you’ll have 116 pre-made products to choose from. Pre-made is made for the masses, not truly custom or for anything specific to your particular needs.

Foot Smart has their own brand of insoles, but also sell Powerstep, Orthaheel, New Balance, Spenco, Superfeet, Hallux Trainer, ALINE, Birkenstock, Prothotic, ArchCrafters, Barefoot Science, Pedag…you get the point.

Foot Smart is an online distributor of pre-made products. In other words, Foot Smart is a one-stop-shop for all things not truly custom!

Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics

Made from Scratch? No.

Made Specific to Body Weight? No. Weight not measured.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? No. Cannot be established by the ‘Foot Mapping Technology’ at their ‘Custom Fit Orthotic Center’. This is a weight bearing, standing, deformed foot analysis.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? No. Gib’s test not performed. There is no human interaction.

Made Specific to Activity Level? No.

Cost? $50

Overall Impression:
Fails to meet any individual specific criteria!

Labeled as custom, but clearly made-in-advance! This is False Advertising!

This pre-made product meets zero criteria; it’s really nothing more than an expensive shoe insert, a cushion if you will, at best.

The worst part of this scenario is that folks often tell us, “Custom foot orthotics didn't work for me”, when this is what they've tried. Sad!

Pick a custom orthotic from the rack! Made-in-advance products are limited in terms of the actual total number of different types you must choose from. There’s a <.0000001% chance the product will meet your specific needs. Buyer Beware!

Good Feet

Made from Scratch? No. Good Feet offers 25 different styles and over 350 sizes of foot support products. The size is related to the size of your foot.

Made Specific to Body Weight? No. You’ll select an arch support from one of 25 styles. If you’re heavy, you’ll select a more stiff style. If you’re lighter, you’ll select a more flexible style. After you select your style, you will be asked to walk around to see how it feels. If you don’t like it, you’ll try another stiffness and do the same until you find one you hopefully like.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? No. You’ll be asked to step onto an inkpad to reveal pressure spots. From this you’ll select from one of 25 styles.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? No. Gib’s test not performed. Even if it were, you’ll still need to select from one of 25 styles.

Made Specific to Activity Level? Not exactly. You’ll need to choose from one of 25 different styles.

Cost? $140 to $300 per pair, max $860.

Good Feet recommends the purchase of 3 different supports; they have a 3 step process:

Step 1
EXERCISER arch support – this is described as the therapy piece designed to correct the alignment of each foot.

Step 2
Maintainer arch support – designed to maintain the changes made by the exerciser.

Step 3
Relaxer arch support – designed to help the foot relax at the end of the day.

The recommendation is to purchase all three for $860, but you can choose only one if you like.

Overall Impression:
Here’s a great example of a mislabeled product that’s hugely popular yet clearly not custom.

Expecting someone to fit into one of ‘25 different styles and over 350 sizes’ when there are literally more than 1 million potential foot configurations is absurd. The odds of one of these pre-made arch supports meeting the specific needs of any particular individual is less than 1%.

According to the Good Feet website, “No matter what your needs, Good Feet has a huge selection of arch supports and orthotics in a variety of sizes to fit in virtually any shoe.”

We were confused and wanted to learn the difference between their ‘arch supports’ and ‘orthotics’, so we called the local store only to learn they use these 2 terms interchangeable. Big mistake!

Foot Levelers

Made from Scratch? Yes.

Made Specific to Body Weight? Yes.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? Not exactly. With Foot Levelers, you will either stand in a soft foam to make an impression of each foot or have the ‘3D BodyView Imaging System’ scan your feet.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? Yes.

Made Specific to Activity Level? Yes.

Cost? Anywhere from $190 to over $500.

Overall Impression:
Foot Levelers uses a Gait Cycle System to record foot loading patterns at midstance. While the colored display of information is undoubtedly impressive, the 2-D information doesn't help determine optimal foot alignment (Criteria #3).

In other words, because you are standing, your body weight and gravity force your arch down; this scan captures your deformed foot position. As a result, the scan shows where your feet are applying pressure, but cannot shine any light as to where your foot belongs.

The resulting orthotic is therefore simply designed to move pressure from areas of high pressure to areas of lower pressure.

Also, if not scanned with the 3D BodyView Imaging System, a standing weight bearing impression of the feet is made into a soft foam. Again, your deformed foot alignment is captured which is pointless.

So, essentially, Foot Levelers offers a custom orthotic designed to transfer force from areas of high pressure to areas of lower pressure and to support your deformed foot position.

Buyer Beware!

The transfer of force elsewhere only helps until the area the force has been transferred to can no longer stand the stress. Then you can move it to another area.

Custom Foot Orthotics from the Podiatrist

Made from Scratch? Yes.

Made Specific to Body Weight? No.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? Not exactly. Most podiatrists make custom foot orthotics based on the industry techniques originated by Root, Orien and Weed in 1977. To be more specific, they’re made specific to the ‘single axis theory of foot function’ which means the hard cast of each foot is made with the foot held in ‘subtalar neutral’.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? No.

Made Specific to Activity Level? No.

Cost? $400 to >$1,000.

Overall Impression:
Truly custom as this is an orthotic made-from-scratch.
This type of custom orthotic is designed to specifically support 1 joint – the subtalar joint also known as the talocalcaneal joint.

There are 33 joints in each foot!

This type of custom orthotic is rigid. In other words, it’s as hard as a rock! This is why criteria #’s 2, 4 and 5 are ignored; they’re irrelevant to the podiatrist.

MojoFeet

Made from Scratch? Yes.

Made Specific to Body Weight? Yes. Start with certain thickness of material based on body weight.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? Yes. According to the MojoFeet website, “Rather than focus on specific bone positions we are focused on maximizing the range through which the foot can function. We cast at the high end of the range, and allow pronation to the low end. This optimizes both the potential energy and the elastic energy of the system.”

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? Not exactly. Their certified providers utilize a few different techniques to measure foot flexibility, including Gib’s test, but the level of specificity applied to each orthotic is limited to rigid, average or stiff.

Made Specific to Activity Level? Yes.

Cost? $300 to $600.

Overall Impression:
Great product. Made-from-scratch and from an arch-up non weight-bearing 3D foot impression. Fantastic!

Because MojoFeet custom orthotics are designed to maximize the range through which the foot can function, they will break down; in other words, you can expect to replace your MojoFeet from time to time.

Sole Supports

Made from Scratch? Yes.

Made Specific to Body Weight? Yes.

Made Specific to Foot Alignment? Yes. ALL axes of the foot are simultaneously considered as a MASS Posture 3D ‘gait referenced’ impression of each foot is made non weight-bearing.

Made Specific to Foot Flexibility? Yes. Gib’s test is required by the laboratory in order to calibrate the orthotic with the perfect amount of flexibility and rigidity specific to the individual.

In other words, the orthotic for a 150 pound person would be too flexible for a 200 pound person and the orthotic for a 200 pound person would be too stiff for a 150 pound person.

Made Specific to Activity Level? Yes.

Cost? $300 to $600.

Overall Impression:
Best medical-grade, truly custom made-from-scratch, calibrated foot orthotic on the market.

MASS Posture 3-D Foot Impression Taken SeatedIn conclusion, custom should be synonymous with top-of-the-line and when an orthotic is made MASS Posture & Precisely Calibrated, that's exactly what you get!

Call Dr. Dave Now & let's get that spring back in your step!