Our podiatrists in Massapequa, Long Island are preparing for what’s looking like a long, cold winter. With morning temperatures already below the freezing mark on several mornings, we know our patients are busting out the boots in their closet. But what if you’ve been wearing medical grade inserts (MGIs) or custom orthotics in your fall shoes in order to relieve foot, heel, ankle or knee pain? Now that winter is coming, can you wear the same inserts in multiple pairs of shoes, or in different styles of foot gear? And can you wear the inserts you already purchased inside your winter boots? In a minute, we’ll answer all of those questions. But first, let’s briefly how and why medical insoles can relieve the pain of many foot conditions.
Insoles and Orthotics: What’s the Difference
"Orthotics" and “insoles” are often used interchangeable. But their only real similarity is that they are both shoe inserts. Now, not all insoles are the same. An over-the-counter insert, for example, can help pad your shoes and make it easier to stand for long periods of time. But, because they aren’t customized to fit and support your unique foot structure, they won’t treat any medical conditions.
In our office, however, we also provide patients with Medical Grade Inserts (MGIs), available for immediate purchase at an office visit. These insoles provide more support—as well as pain relief—than OTC insoles. Plus, they offer are an immediate solution to pain, since you can purchase and wear them on the same day.
In contrast, custom orthotics are inserts that are constructed from a cast of your foot. Because they are made to fit your foot, crafting them from scratch takes about three weeks. However, once they’re ready for you, custom orthotic devices are the only forms of insoles that correct irregular walking patterns, and boost your balance and efficiency. They can also evenly distribute pressure across your feet, helping prevent deformities and relieve chronic conditions.
What Can Orthotics Treat?
Since custom orthotics are made to fit your foot, they provide support exactly where you need it. For this reason, we can use orthotics to slow bunion progression, relieve neuroma pain, and more. But how can one little insole address so many different concerns?
Because they pad and secure the foot, they can provide support and stability while correcting foot and ankle problems that result from your foot structure and biomechanics. As a result, our prescription-strength, custom orthotics can optimize your gait, ensure proper foot motion and offer lasting pain relief.
Can I Wear Orthotics with Boots?
Orthotics and winter boots have different purposes. The main point of orthotics is to provide support and balance to your foot and ankle. But boots have a different goal: to keep your feet dry and warm. As a result, winter boots like Uggs typically lack structure and support, meaning your feet will probably hurt if you wear them without your MGIs or orthotics.
Now, you could try and slip your devices into your boots. But since sneakers and dress shoes are built differently than boots, many styles of winter foot gear don’t have room to fit your insoles!
That’s especially true if you purchased a full length orthotic for year round use. While this style of insole is made to provide support to the entire sole of the your regular foot gear, it might prove too long for your boots. And, for that reason, many people decide to invest in a second pair of MGIs or orthotics for use with their winter foot gear.
The Benefits of Doubling up on Insoles
Even if your existing insoles fit your boots, investing in a second pair is a wise decision. First, having two sets of orthotics allows you to avoid the inconvenience of trying to squeeze a device made for one shoe type into a second pair with very different measurements and restrictions. Plus, when you have two pairs of orthotics, the usable life of each device gets an extension. Plus, when you purchase your new orthotics in December, you can use any leftover HSA funds to cover the purchase price, meaning you can keep your feet warm, dry and free from pain for the rest of the season!
Customizing Insoles for Your Exact Needs
As we just mentioned, having two pairs of orthotics adds convenience and comfort to your routine. But it’s not a true necessity. Instead, you can start with the end in mind, right when you get fitted for your first pair of orthotics. At that visit to our Nassau County podiatry practice, bring in the shoes you want to wear with your devices, and tell us about all your typical physical activities.
Why do we need this information? Well, because we can customize so many elements of your orthotic devices, from the length to the rigidity of this device. Many patients who want to wear their orthotics with winter boots will prefer a ¾ length orthotic to a full-length device, since this length is also easier for switching between multiple shoe shapes and styles. Additionally, the rigidity of your device—whether it’s soft, semi-rigid, or fully-rigid—will offer different benefits and outcomes, so it’s important to let us know if you are looking for more support, an athletic boost, or something else entirely when you wear your custom inserts.
Ready to find year round relief from foot and ankle pain, in every shoe and boot you choose to wear? Call our podiatrists in Massapequa at 516-804-9038 or click here to schedule an appointment. When you come into the office, Dr. Mark Gasparini or Dr. Novneet Chhabra will discuss your insole needs and help guide you through all your options, from Medical Grade Inserts to the exact style of orthotics to fit your needs. So, whether you’re new to the world of medical insoles, or simply want to invest in a second set of inserts to make life simpler, we’ll help you select the right device to walk and run in comfort, every season of the year!