Custom orthotics are one of the most powerful and effective treatments in our tool kit. Because so many of the foot problems we experience in life can be traced to feet and legs suffering from poor biomechanical alignment, inserts that effectively reposition the feet the skeletal system can erase many common sources of pain.
Aside from their vastly better success rates, one of the other big advantages custom orthotics have over store-bought inserts is their durability. Where cheap foam or gel insoles might be reduced to shreds after a couple of months, custom orthotics—with a little bit of care—can last a year or more in the case of those made from softer materials, or several years in the case of more rigid orthotics.
How often should your orthotics be replaced? There are no firm rules on this, since many factors can affect the lifespan of orthotics: materials, how often you use them, your weight and activity level, etc. Consider also that sometimes an orthotic can be adjusted or refurbished rather than replaced outright, and may need to be periodically reevaluated in order to remain as effective as possible.
Because of this, we strongly recommend that you get your orthotics checked at least once per year at our office. Even if a particular device might be expected to last 3-5 years, going to yearly evaluations helps us identify and fix any issues early.
To help you out, here are some additional guiding questions to help you tell when you might be due to get your orthotics tuned up or replaced:
- Have you experienced any significant lifestyle changes? Remember that while custom orthotics are designed to correct biomechanical issues with the way you walk, they were also designed to correct a specific problem at a specific point in your life. Major events or body changes that can affect how you walk and move, such as pregnancy, surgery, or gaining or losing a lot of weight, may require a change in your orthotics as well.
- Are there any visible cracks or damage? If hard orthotics shells are cracked, soles are worn down, pieces are breaking off, etc., you should get the orthotic fixed or replaced as soon as possible. Home repairs won’t cut it.
- Do your feet hurt? If your orthotics just don’t seem to give you the same quality of pain relief they used to, it’s a good sign that something’s wrong—either the orthotics have worn down, or your feet or gait have changed.