Orthotics are shoe inserts that are intended to correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. Orthotics are not truly or solely “arch supports,” although some people use those words to describe them, and they perhaps can best be understood with those words in mind. They perform functions that make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient, by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface.
Doctors of podiatric medicine prescribe orthotics as a conservative approach to many foot problems or as a method of control after certain types of foot surgery; their use is a highly successful, practical treatment form.
Orthotics take various forms and are constructed of various materials. All are concerned with improving foot function and minimizing stress forces that could ultimately cause foot deformity and pain.
Foot orthotics fall into three broad categories: those that primarily attempt to change foot function, those that are primarily protective in nature, and those that combine functional control and protection.