What are orthotics?

Functional foot orthotics – what are they?

They are devices that are worn in the shoe to correct abnormal lower limb biomechanics and alignment by controlling the ankle and posture of the foot. The gold standard for podiatrists has always been devices that are made from a cast of the foot and then adjusted slightly to enhance the individual’s foot position during standing and movement. The type of sport/activity and the actual musculo-skeletal problem of the patient will greatly determine the way that the cast and design of the orthotic are adjusted.

Chris now incorporates pressure analysis into the design of the orthotic. Whilst some in the profession question the use of pressure as a measure of footshape, the advantage this has over a cast is that it gives a dynamic/moving impression of the foot relative to the ground, and breaks the foot into 3 segments which can be considered independantly when designing the device. A cast on the other hand is a static impression offering only one snapshot of the foot and little prediction of the way it will react to the force of the ground during activity.

Clever boffins in Belgium have used complex allgebra to create a 3D shape of the foot in motion from pressure which in turn helps Chris to design a more functional orthotic device.
Are they different from the ones you can buy in the shops?

Yes, because they are individualised to your foot and its specific requirements as per your biomechanical assessment.

Temporary insoles will usually be trialled first, and offered as an interim measure to correct biomechanical problems early on in the treatment.

Who will orthotics particularly benefit?

Orthotics will particularly benefit people who have:

  • poor foot mechanics because of fallen arches (excessive pronation)
  • heel pain, tendinopathy (chronic)
  • long-term history of joint pain such as knees
  • weak unstable ankles
  • damaged feet from injury
  • feet prone to problems and injury e.g bunions , sprains
  • an active sporting background with history of foot pain


Whereas orthotics are designed to improve biomechanical problems, insoles are a less complex device aimed more at comfort/cushioning and produced from measuring certain landmarks on the feet and adding appropriate padding where required. They can also play a minor support role for the feet.