Orthopedic shoes are shoes specially designed to support the foot, ankle, and leg. They are often designed with a specific use in mind, for example, a person living with cerebral palsy may require orthopedic shoes.
How are orthopedic shoes different from regular shoes?
There are certain characteristics and design features of orthopedic shoes which set them apart from regular shoes. Below we’ve listed a few of the main differences:
- Extra widths and more sizing options
Because people’s feet are all so unique, most orthopedic brands are available in three main widths (narrow, regular, and wide) and almost limitless sizes.
- Taller upper soles
People who experience forefoot issues like ‘clawed’ or ‘crossed-over toes’ require more vertical space for their feet.
- Easier to fasten
Most orthopedic shoes favor a hook-and-loop closure system which is easier to tighten for persons living with restricted mobility or functions.
- Seamless upper soles
Removes areas that might cause rubbing or abrasion.
- A firm and supportive heel
To support the rear of the foot.
- A well-cushioned and strong outer-sole and mid-sole
The outer sole typically has defined ‘impact points’ to absorb the impact of walking.
- A firm sole
Ideally made of Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) which allows you to add ‘wedging’ which lifts the heel of the foot and/or ‘rocker soles’ which are used to reduce pressure on the bottom of the foot.
The benefits of orthopedic shoes
Orthopedic shoes can promote the correct growth and development of your posture, help to keep you mobile, comfortable, and pain-free, and ultimately support you to be happier and healthier. Often an orthopedic shoe is required to help you change the way you walk, for example, if you put more pressure on your toes than your heal, an orthopedic shoe can help remove the pain you feel from the added strain when you walk. Modern orthopedic shoes can look cool, too!
How to know if you need orthopedic shoes
Often custom or customized orthopedic shoes are required when you have alignment issues of the foot and ankle (the way the bones and ligaments work together) that give you pain or affect the way you walk. Your doctor or health care professional may have suggested you start wearing more supportive footwear, such as an orthopedic shoe. If you have foot-pain, large-feet, wide-feet, or very narrow-feet, then a pair of orthopedic shoes is probably going to be more comfortable and supportive than a regular pair of shoes.
How an orthopedic shoe works
Orthopedic shoes are measured and adjusted to fit your foot perfectly. Most orthopedic shoes work by aligning your feet and ankles. This helps reduce pain or risk of long-term injury by creating a more ‘typical’ and efficient walking pattern. Using orthotic insoles with orthopedic shoes can also help reduce pressure on the heel and the ball of the foot by transferring the weight evenly across the foot. This typically relieves painful areas. Orthotic insoles with good arch support play an important role in alleviating stress on the knees, hips, and lower back as well as improving foot and leg alignment.