Custom Orthotics vs Orthopedic Footwear: Which is Right for You?

2023 May 26th

Every step we take, from the moment we wake until we hit the sack, is supported by our feet. Whether you're an athlete or not, finding the right support for your feet is crucial. Two commonly used options that offer ample support and comfort for your tired and hurt feet are custom orthotics and orthopedic footwear.

In this blog, we will discuss the differences between these two options, compare their benefits, and help you determine which option might be the right choice for you.

Custom Orthotics

Custom orthotics are specialized shoe inserts that are tailor-made to address specific foot issues. They are designed based on a detailed assessment of an individual's foot structure, biomechanics, and gait pattern.

Here are some key characteristics to understand about custom orthotics:

Prescription and Design: Orthotics are custom-designed to meet an individual's unique needs and foot condition. Orthotics Direct is a leader in creating and delivering custom orthotics.

Targeted Support: Orthotics provide targeted support by correcting abnormal foot mechanics, redistributing pressure, and aligning the foot and lower limb properly. Orthotics can address various foot conditions, including flat feet, high arches, plantar fasciitis, and bunions.

Materials and Construction: Usually made from high-quality materials like durable foams, gels, or semi-rigid plastics. Orthotics are crafted to fit the individual's shoe size, shape, and foot contours precisely.

Versatility: Orthotics are designed to fit snugly inside the shoe and offer maximum comfort and support. Compatible with most footwear, including athletic shoes, dress shoes, and sandals.

Orthopedic Footwear

Orthopedic footwear refers to specially designed shoes that provide extra support, cushioning, and stability for individuals with various foot conditions. Let's dive into the characteristics of orthopedic footwear:

Structural Design: Orthopedic Footwear has unique structural features such as wider toe boxes, deeper heel cups, and reinforced soles. These design elements aim to accommodate foot deformities, relieve pressure points, and enhance stability during walking or running.

Integrated Support: Incorporates built-in support and cushioning features. Orthopedic Footwear often include arch support, shock-absorbing midsoles, and removable insoles that can be replaced with custom orthotics if needed.

Specialized Models: Available in a variety of models to cater to specific foot conditions. Orthopedic Footwear includes diabetic footwear for individuals with diabetes, arthritic shoes for those with joint problems, and motion-control shoes for excessive pronation or supination.

Style Options: Primarily focused on functionality and foot health, manufacturers have expanded style options in recent years. Today, you can find orthopedic shoes in various designs, colors, and patterns.

Choosing Between Custom Orthotics and Orthopedic Footwear

Foot Condition Severity

If you have a severe foot condition or require highly specific correction and alignment, custom orthotics are likely to be more effective than Orthopedic Footwear

Prescription and Customization

Custom Orthotics are crafted to address your specific foot condition. Orthopedic footwear may not require a prescription or specific personalized measurement.

Footwear Compatibility

Consider the type of shoes you frequently wear. If you have a wide range of footwear and need support in all of them, Custom Orthotics can be transferred between different shoes. However, if you primarily wear one or two pairs of shoes, opting for orthopedic footwear with integrated support might be more convenient.

Budget Considerations

Depending on your financial situation and health insurance coverage, cost may play a role in your decision-making process. It's worth noting that custom orthotics are often covered by insurance plans when medically necessary.


The choice between custom orthotics and orthopedic footwear depends on the severity of your foot condition, the level of customization required, your preferred footwear options, and your budget.

Custom orthotics provide targeted support and correction for specific foot conditions, while orthopedic footwear offers built-in support and cushioning. Ultimately, the goal is to find the solution that keeps you pain-free, supports your foot health, and allows you to move with comfort and confidence. Try our assessment and determine the best solution for your feet. Visit today to learn more about custom orthotics.