Orthotics 101: How Custom Orthotics Improve Daily Life

More commonly known as splints, braces, or foot inserts, orthotics are used by those needing extra support. Whether from how their body was born or a condition that builds over the years, orthotics can relieve pain, improve mobility, and increase your quality of life.

Some orthotics can be found at a nearby drugstore, but custom orthotics may be your best bet if you have a long-term condition or an anatomical need.

Custom shoe inserts

Custom orthotics are designed to meet your unique needs in mind. Detailed below, we have outlined different types of orthotics, some conditions that may need their support, and the benefits of custom orthotics.

What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are devices that support the body and often focus on the feet, back, or joints, such as the ankle, wrist, knee, or elbow. Their goal is to promote proper alignment and help the body move as intended, improving functionality and mobility while decreasing pain.

In this way, orthotics are different from prosthetics. Prosthetics replace a missing limb, whereas orthotics support the limb as it is and improve your joint’s biomechanics.

Biomechanics is how we move our muscles and joints. The tendons, muscles, and ligaments that make up a joint work together to create movement. If one area suffers, the others are negatively affected, so orthotics help support these areas and improve your biomechanics.

Ankle braces orthotics

Types of Orthotics

Some types of orthotics include:
– Shoe inserts
– Ankle braces
– Wrist splints
– Spine braces
– Neck braces
– Knee braces

An orthotic may align and support the ankle, ensuring it doesn’t roll out when walking. Yet another use for orthotics is to help correct, prevent, or accommodate foot deformities. In many cases, orthotics not only improve the functionality of the foot, but they can also prevent further damage from occurring.

Orthotics can help with a variety of medical conditions, including:

– Heel spurs
– High arches
– Flat feet
– Arthritis/osteoarthritis
– Injuries/trauma
– Diabetes
– Back pain
– Plantar fasciitis
– Scoliosis

Heel spur

In some cases, orthotics may help correct an issue after it has developed. Still, in other cases, orthotics can be used as a preventative measure to correct issues before they progress.

Custom orthotic fabrication

How Are Custom Orthotics Made?

Custom orthotics are different from those bought in a store because they are designed to match your specific dimensions and needs. This process starts with capturing your unique structure. Several methods can be used, such as a plaster wrap, measurements, or even a scan that generates a 3-D model on a computer.

Most orthotics, like braces, are made from rigid or semi-rigid plastic or fiberglass. However, foot orthotics are made from soft materials to provide support and comfort. Custom orthotics give you the best possible support because the device was fabricated for only you.

The Benefits of Custom Orthotics

Offer Support

The most significant benefit of orthotics is their support for the body. For example, those with flat feet can benefit from a shoe insert that retains an arch in their foot and also holds the rest of the leg in the correct position. Other orthotics also offer support, including knee braces and neck braces.

While general orthotics can help, custom orthotics take things further by matching their support to the specific areas you need instead of a generalized design.

By offering support, your custom orthotic can help you move more naturally without overexerting yourself to accommodate weak areas. Since this overexertion can result in further injury or pain, orthotics can prevent additional concerns from developing.

orthotics lawall

Allow For Healing

Orthotics offer support for a specific part of your body, taking on some of the strain your body would otherwise withstand and reducing the stress placed on it. By removing this excess stress, your body can more easily heal without the discomfort, swelling, or inflammation that might otherwise occur. This results in a quicker and less painful recovery and often better outcomes.

Correct Misalignment

Custom orthotics help correct misalignment when used consistently by supporting your body’s proper alignment. Physical therapy can play a very important role in the recovery process. Physical therapy focuses on strengthening and stretching the surrounding muscles, while orthotics focuses on supporting these muscles. 

Strengthening weak muscles ensures your body can more easily hold itself correctly. When your body is misaligned, it may be due to weak muscles that cannot keep the body in balance. Conversely, misalignment may cause the muscles to weaken due to disuse, and as they become weaker and weaker, the misalignment may worsen. Using an orthotic to support your body allows you to work on strengthening your muscles. 

Stretching is also essential, as a misaligned body can cause tightness in muscles due to being poorly aligned. You’ll experience less pain and greater mobility by stretching out these muscles. 

This ability to correct misalignment can be seen in those with scoliosis, who may be prescribed a brace to correct the curvature in their spine. Some of these custom orthotics even push against the irregular curve of the spine to fix it. In this way, the orthotic does more than support the joint; it actively works to correct the issue.

Relieve Pain

Anyone with joints that don’t hold up as they should are often all too familiar with the pain that can result. We must consider our body’s biomechanics to understand where this pain comes from.

relieve knee pain

The body is intended to move in a specific way, but if it cannot move in this way, certain areas of the body can receive excessive or unusual stresses and strains, resulting in pain. Also, if you’re in pain, you will often adjust your movements to try and lessen the pain, which can cause further problems and additional pain. It can seem like a never-ending cycle. By helping your body move as it should and even taking some of the strain away, orthotics can help relieve pain and make it easier for you to move around.

Foot orthotic

Protect Against Injury

In addition to relieving pain from your misaligned joints, custom orthotics can also help prevent injuries. For instance, walking on uneven ground can cause your feet to withstand extra stress, potentially resulting in inflammation, sprains, or fractures. Custom orthotics offer more stability in your movement, lessening the odds of a fall or other injury.

Increase Confidence

Our ability to move independently significantly contributes to our confidence; custom orthotics help you achieve this. Additionally, orthotics also increase your confidence in performing specific actions. For example, those with an ankle brace feel more confident that their joints can support them while walking, which increases their mobility.

Working With Lawall to Choose Your Best Orthotic

When it comes to orthotics, there are many options available for you. This is beneficial, as it means you can find one that perfectly fits your needs, but you’ll need some help. This is where Lawall comes in. 

Our Lawall Prosthetics & Orthotics team will help you sort through all the orthotic options to find the best fit, and we’ll then take things a step further by creating an orthotic customized for you. You’ll leave with an individually modified orthotic that fits your body and needs, reduces injury risk, lessens pain, and helps you move around more confidently. We are a proud family owed and run business since 1977. At Lawall, we are known for our extraordinary patient care and our commitment to helping everyone who walks through our doors. 


Nawoczenski, D. A., Cook, T. M., & Saltzman, C. L. (1995). The effect of foot orthotics on three-dimensional kinematics of the leg and rearfoot during running. The Journal of orthopedic and sports physical therapy, 21(6), 317–327. https://doi.org/10.2519/jospt.1995.21.6.317

Papuga, M. O., & Cambron, J. (2016). Foot orthotics for low back pain: The state of our understanding and recommendations for future research. Foot (Edinburgh, Scotland), 26, 53–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foot.2015.12.002