How to Choose an Orthotic

Experts weigh in on how to buy an orthotic that fits properly 

by Emily Listfield
orthotics image

Custom-made orthotics can set you back hundreds of dollars, but unless you have a major structural deformity such as collapsed arches, you can probably get away with a good premade pair. Those available in the drugstore tend to offer cushioning but not enough support; you can often find better options at a sporting-goods store or your doctor’s office for about $50.

Mark Berkowitz, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic, says patients are often better at choosing orthotics than their doctors are. Try on several pairs to see which feels best—often the surest test of efficacy. “The inserts should have a degree of stiff support combined with comfort,” Berkowitz says.

For most problems, New York City podiatrist Johanna Youner recommends the Superfeet brand, which fits easily into women’s shoes, and the Powerstep brand if you have heel pain.
One problem with over-the-counter orthotics is that they can be hard to fit into dress shoes. If that’s the case, custom-made models can be sized to fit many kinds of shoes, says Bob Baravarian, DPM, of the University of California, Los Angeles.

Photo courtesy of 3drenderings/

Next: The Most Foot-Friendly Shoewear

First published in the September 2012 issue

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