OTS Foot Orthotics

Off-the-Shelf (OTS) foot orthotics come in many types and sizes. It can become quite confusing when deciding which ones are right for you! Here is a simple breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of common OTS foot orthotics to better guide your decisions.

The most common types of OTS foot orthotics are gel pads. These can be bought at pharmacies and athletic stores and their primary function is shock absorption. Analogous to suspensions on a mountain bike, the gel layer absorbs the normal force by dissipating the forces throughout the material. This results in lower peak pressures on the plantar surface of the foot, thus reducing impact when the foot strikes the ground. This type of orthotic is comfortable and maybe the simple solution to acute foot problems. Conversely, gel foot orthotics lack any type of support as the entire orthotic is soft and flexible. To summarize, gel foot orthotics are great for comfort and reducing pressures but provides minimal support for the arches and other structures of the foot.

Another common type of OTS foot orthotic is thermal plastics. These are light-weight, heat-moldable orthotics that retain some rigidity while being semi-flexible. There are also some OTS orthotics advertised as “wear-moldable”. These orthotics are perfect for people who may require a little more support for their arches but not enough to warrant a full custom orthotic. It is also common for an active clients to have a pair of these orthotics in gym shoes or basketball shoes; only using them when doing activities that may bring on discomfort in the feet. In general, this type of orthotics is more supportive than gel pads and is better suited for people who experience minor, intermittent foot problems.

There are also OTS foot orthotics that target specifically the ball of the feet. This type of orthotic is not as rigid as thermal plastics and not as soft as gel pads. What’s different about this type is the notable metatarsal pad that is located just before the ball of the feet. This semi-rigid cushion supports the transverse arch of the foot and this may be a simple and effective solution for people who experience sharp pains in the ball of their feet as well as  aches from prolonged standing.

Off-the-shelf foot orthotics is an economical solution to treat simple foot problems. If you experience any type of aches and discomfort in your feet, there is an orthotic solution for your needs!