There are some things in life we tend to hold onto longer than we should. Those CDs we’ve never touched in years, for example, or extra soy sauce packets from take-out.

When it comes to things we consistently wear or use on our bodies, the desire to keep them seems even greater. Those of you who keep underwear until its complete molecular breakdown, you know who you are. Custom orthotics, however, are a different matter.

Custom orthotics are made to be very sturdy and durable, but the ins and outs of daily movement will inevitably take their toll on the devices. And whereas you may be able to remain rather comfortable without underwear (we do not need data on this, thank you), the state of your custom orthotics can have a significant influence on your foot comfort and health.

It is important to properly maintain your custom orthotics, which means occasional adjustment, refurbishing, and replacement. Depending on the reason you were prescribed orthotics in the first place, worn out sections may be lacking the cushioning or corrective support you need to help avoid aches or injuries.

But when do you know the time has come to take your orthotics in? There often isn’t any real strict timeline to the process—everyone’s mileage does indeed vary. But here are some signs and indicators that you may need to make an appointment with us.

Woman stopped on run with foot and ankle pain

How Do You Feel?

Pain and comfort may seem like the most obvious factors when it comes to gauging orthotic effectiveness, but it can be amazing how we tend to condition ourselves to gradually increasing discomfort over time.

If you have been feeling pain of any type in your feet and ankles, you should definitely let us know about it. This can include pain while standing, while walking, while jogging—none of it should be present.

Do You Have Calluses or Corns?

Corns and calluses are signs of undue friction against the feet, usually by an imbalance of weight and/or the foot rubbing against the inside of the shoe. Neither of these cases should be occurring with effective orthotics. At the very least, the orthotics may need to be adjusted or different footwear used.

How Do Your Shoes Look?

The same supportive and balancing elements that should prevent corns and calluses should also prevent uneven wear on the soles of your shoes. If you have conditions such as flat feet or overpronation, this is something you very well may have seen before orthotics were prescribed to you, but was addressed via specific forms of support and motion control in your custom orthotics.

If you are seeing uneven wear, such as greater wear on the sides or backs of your soles, that is a sign that something is off or no longer able to work as it should. Of course, if you are still wearing the shoes you had before you got orthotics, this is not going to be a viable indicator of anything, not to mention that you have had that pair of shoes for far too long!

Damage to the arch of the shoe is another sign that something is amiss and that too much stress is being focused in areas where it should not be focused.

How Do the Orthotics Themselves Look?

It’s time to bring the orthotics themselves out for an inspection.

Check the visible condition of your inserts. Do you see any broken pieces, cracks, thinness, or other signs of wear? Any plainly obvious indicators such as these mean your orthotics are very likely in need of refurbishment or replacement.

Have You Experienced Any Changes Recently?

Sometimes, changes to ourselves can affect the effectiveness of our custom orthotics in ways that require adjustment. They may alter the way you walk or how weight is distributed over your feet.

Such life events might include pregnancy, recent hip or knee surgeries, or losing or gaining a large amount of weight. If something like this has happened since you originally obtained your custom orthotics, they may not be configured to provide the proper support and cushioning you now need.

Other Factors That May Affect Replacement

Some custom orthotics will naturally endure longer than others. Two major factors that will affect this rate are:

  • The materials the orthotics are composed of. If you have more rigid orthotics designed for motion control, they will likely last longer than those made with foams and other softer materials for cushioning.
  • Your amount of daily wear. If you are highly active, such as always on your feet at work or an avid runner, physics demands that your orthotics wear out faster than those of someone who is not as active. (No, that is not an excuse to stop!)

Keep Your Orthotics in Top Shape, Keep Your Feet in Top Shape

Custom orthotics can only work as well as their condition. Once they start to wear thin or bust up, you will likely start feeling it sooner or later.

With most custom orthotics, replacement won’t often be needed until at least a year down the road, or even longer. We can help you estimate when you may start expecting to need replacement or refurbishment based on your lifestyle, but don’t neglect the signs that you may need an appointment sooner.

Whenever you have questions or need to make an appointment, don’t hesitate to contact us at (516) 804-9038 or fill out our online contact form.

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