Every day I see individuals with a wide range of conditions, from very simple and straightforward to very complicated, involving a wide scope of medical practitioners. I also see patients who have never had foot orthotics to individuals who are being assessed for their tenth pair of custom orthotics.
The most common question I hear during an appointment is “how long will it take me to get used to my custom orthotics”. Unfortunately this is never an easy question, nor a straight forward question, to answer as everybody adjusts to orthotics in their own time. However, it usually takes about two weeks to get used to wearing foot orthotics.
When my patients come for a fitting appointment, I make sure I have the contact and control I am striving for, the foot feels comfortable on the orthotic and the orthotic fits into the patient’s footwear. During the break in period for your first pair of orthotics, things will feel different day to day as your soft tissue gets used to having pressure in different places and the tissue gets used to being in a more mechanically efficient position.
To comfortably break in a new orthotic, I recommend my patients wear it for an hour on day one, two hours on day two, and continuously progress each day so that by the end of the two weeks, they can wear the orthotic comfortably all day. Due to the nature of soft tissue, a number of people are able to comfortably wear their orthotics right away. The break in period is very much a “listen to your body” time. If things are feeling good, wear them longer each day, even all day.
The second most common question I get is, “How do I know if I need an adjustment?” If you have never had an orthotic, it can be difficult initially to know if an adjustment is needed, especially during the first two weeks as your body needs time to get used to it. And even after two weeks, your foot may still need some time to adapt. The best way to know if an adjustment is needed is the duration of your discomfort. I tell my patients if an area is in pain for one day but it is not painful for the rest of the week, something prior caused the inflammation and the orthotics aren’t the cause. However, if you have foot pain every day of the week following the onset of the initial discomfort, the soft tissue is interacting with your orthotic incorrectly and it needs to be adjusted.
Orthotics are great devices but they do need a break in period to become comfortable. If your new orthotic is causing you discomfort after two weeks, contact your Canadian Certified Pedorthist and book an appointment to see if any changes are necessary. As new orthotics are custom made to fit your feet perfectly it is not unusual to require some adjustments in the early days.
By Steve Stredulinsky, BSc KIN, C. Ped (C), Abbotsford, BC