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why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Posted by Peter F on 12/11/02 at 06:26 (102672)

Doctors

I understand that orthotics correct biomechanical factors so feel odd at first but what causes the pain during break in ?(which seems to be pretty standard even if just for a couple of weeks) Is the inflammed fascia being altered to a different shape at first and then settles down as the arch support kicks in ?

I would love to know your thoughts because it may give me the will to keep wearing them

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Julie on 12/11/02 at 08:29 (102685)

Peter, I think it's because in changing the alignment of your feet, the orthotics change the way in which the muscles are being used. Muscles anywhere in the body will protest when they're asked to do something unfamiliar to them - the ones that are carrying all your weight are almost bound to complain for awhile until they get used to it.

But don't forget that not all orthotics are correctly made for the feet they've supposedly been made for. Some need adjustment, some will never work, either because they've been poorly casted or badly made.

I wouldn't like to say how long one should persevere with them if they continue to give pain - probably not very long - before taking them back. One of the doctors will surely answer, and perhaps you should also post your question on the Shoes and Orthotics board so that Richard our resident pedorthist is sure to see it.

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Richard, C.Ped on 12/12/02 at 09:00 (102801)

Hi Peter,
When I have someone say that their orthotics hurt, it is usually from those that have extremely sore feet to start. Orthotics give you support in an area that is not used to being supported. The good thing is, our feet are moble adaptors. That means they will adapt to their environment.

Here is an example that I use when describing the discomfort someone will feel. If you never wear hats, I come in and tell you that you must wear this hat always. It will be uncomfortable and irritating to you, until you actually get used to wearing it. Same thing with the orthotics. Your feet will feel tired and achy, until they get used to the support.

After about two weeks or so, the orthotics should not hurt your feet. It is possible that you might still feel a slight discomfort...everyone has their own break in time frame. If you feel something HURT...get back with your doc or C.Ped and see if you need an adjustment.

Do not make the mistake of trying to force yourself to get used to the orthotics. It took two weeks for me to get used to a soft pair three years ago. I am now wearing extremely rigid polypropylene with a top cover of 1/8' 30 durometer EVA for cushion. I love these things, but I would never start someone off with something this hard.

Richard, C.Ped

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Peter F on 12/12/02 at 17:58 (102842)

Thanks Richard

Can I ask 2 more questions please. I can wear soft inserts all day with minimal discomfort (unless I try to hike etc)-I bought a pair of harder superfeet inserts because I felt that it was time to 'move on a step'-they really hurt right on the medial part of the heel after 2 days. My question is :

Am I just kidding myself by wearing soft inserts that help or should I stay in them for as long as it takes before going onto something harder (in other words shall I keep trying harder orthotics from time to time)Custom orthotics have always been fairly hard and I seem to get more relief from soft spencos/sorbothane

If I can lead a relatively comfortable (but dull) life in soft inserts with no outdoor activity should I dismiss all thoughts of surgery??

Thanks for any answer

PS Thanks Julie for your reply also

Peter

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Richard, C.Ped on 12/13/02 at 09:27 (102914)

Hey Peter...
This is the hard part about answering questions over the internet. I would have to see the inserts along with your feet to really give you an accurate answer. I think the Superfeet and other direct mold systems are ok, but I really prefer the casting method to get an accurate mold of your feet, thus producing a proper orthosis. As I have said before, the person doing the casting as well as fabricating the orthosis really have to know what they are doing.

I would recommend findng a C.Ped in your area so they can look at what you currently have as well as your foot type. They should be able to help in that area. There could be things going on that are preventing you from getting used to the harder orthosis such as forefoot varus, or short heel cord.

Good luck!
Richard

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

peter f on 12/14/02 at 05:51 (103032)

Thanks Richard-you're obviously right

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Pauline on 12/14/02 at 08:51 (103037)

I personally think sometimes a person's feet are too inflamed to accept any orthotic. Doctors want you to wear them, but your feet are telling you otherwise. If this is the case maybe waiting until some of the inflamation goes down then trying orthotics again may improve your chances of being successful with wearing them.

Why are we told over and over not to break in shoes on our feet yet breaking in orthotics is ok. I just don't buy into that theory. If the orthotics hurt to the extent of causing a person far more pain than without then I say it's time to try something else.

Not everyone can wear orthotics. We have several posters on our board that can't wear them. When you've given yours your best shot and tried a variety from hard to soft you may just want to hang them up and not beat yourself up anymore for not being an orthotic wearer.

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Julie on 12/11/02 at 08:29 (102685)

Peter, I think it's because in changing the alignment of your feet, the orthotics change the way in which the muscles are being used. Muscles anywhere in the body will protest when they're asked to do something unfamiliar to them - the ones that are carrying all your weight are almost bound to complain for awhile until they get used to it.

But don't forget that not all orthotics are correctly made for the feet they've supposedly been made for. Some need adjustment, some will never work, either because they've been poorly casted or badly made.

I wouldn't like to say how long one should persevere with them if they continue to give pain - probably not very long - before taking them back. One of the doctors will surely answer, and perhaps you should also post your question on the Shoes and Orthotics board so that Richard our resident pedorthist is sure to see it.

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Richard, C.Ped on 12/12/02 at 09:00 (102801)

Hi Peter,
When I have someone say that their orthotics hurt, it is usually from those that have extremely sore feet to start. Orthotics give you support in an area that is not used to being supported. The good thing is, our feet are moble adaptors. That means they will adapt to their environment.

Here is an example that I use when describing the discomfort someone will feel. If you never wear hats, I come in and tell you that you must wear this hat always. It will be uncomfortable and irritating to you, until you actually get used to wearing it. Same thing with the orthotics. Your feet will feel tired and achy, until they get used to the support.

After about two weeks or so, the orthotics should not hurt your feet. It is possible that you might still feel a slight discomfort...everyone has their own break in time frame. If you feel something HURT...get back with your doc or C.Ped and see if you need an adjustment.

Do not make the mistake of trying to force yourself to get used to the orthotics. It took two weeks for me to get used to a soft pair three years ago. I am now wearing extremely rigid polypropylene with a top cover of 1/8' 30 durometer EVA for cushion. I love these things, but I would never start someone off with something this hard.

Richard, C.Ped

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Peter F on 12/12/02 at 17:58 (102842)

Thanks Richard

Can I ask 2 more questions please. I can wear soft inserts all day with minimal discomfort (unless I try to hike etc)-I bought a pair of harder superfeet inserts because I felt that it was time to 'move on a step'-they really hurt right on the medial part of the heel after 2 days. My question is :

Am I just kidding myself by wearing soft inserts that help or should I stay in them for as long as it takes before going onto something harder (in other words shall I keep trying harder orthotics from time to time)Custom orthotics have always been fairly hard and I seem to get more relief from soft spencos/sorbothane

If I can lead a relatively comfortable (but dull) life in soft inserts with no outdoor activity should I dismiss all thoughts of surgery??

Thanks for any answer

PS Thanks Julie for your reply also

Peter

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Richard, C.Ped on 12/13/02 at 09:27 (102914)

Hey Peter...
This is the hard part about answering questions over the internet. I would have to see the inserts along with your feet to really give you an accurate answer. I think the Superfeet and other direct mold systems are ok, but I really prefer the casting method to get an accurate mold of your feet, thus producing a proper orthosis. As I have said before, the person doing the casting as well as fabricating the orthosis really have to know what they are doing.

I would recommend findng a C.Ped in your area so they can look at what you currently have as well as your foot type. They should be able to help in that area. There could be things going on that are preventing you from getting used to the harder orthosis such as forefoot varus, or short heel cord.

Good luck!
Richard

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

peter f on 12/14/02 at 05:51 (103032)

Thanks Richard-you're obviously right

Re: why does breaking in orthotics hurt?

Pauline on 12/14/02 at 08:51 (103037)

I personally think sometimes a person's feet are too inflamed to accept any orthotic. Doctors want you to wear them, but your feet are telling you otherwise. If this is the case maybe waiting until some of the inflamation goes down then trying orthotics again may improve your chances of being successful with wearing them.

Why are we told over and over not to break in shoes on our feet yet breaking in orthotics is ok. I just don't buy into that theory. If the orthotics hurt to the extent of causing a person far more pain than without then I say it's time to try something else.

Not everyone can wear orthotics. We have several posters on our board that can't wear them. When you've given yours your best shot and tried a variety from hard to soft you may just want to hang them up and not beat yourself up anymore for not being an orthotic wearer.