Custom orthotics are costly, and most insurance plans do not cover them. But, before you fork out the $200 to $800 for them, make sure you really need them. If you do, learn how to get the best bang for your buck.

The Basics

Custom orthotics are pricey, ranging from $200 to $800 a pair. In addition, the number of office visits from the initial assessment to the follow-up will easily add up.

Custom orthotics are developed through a multi-step procedure that involves a comprehensive review by a podiatrist, a cast of your foot, and the manufacturing and fitting of your orthotics.

Many people assume they need custom orthotics to fix their foot problems, but the fact is that most people do not. If you have a complicated foot condition or diabetes, a decent pair of over-the-counter insoles would take care of your problems.

The most comparable over-the-counter insoles to custom orthotics have a solid arch support that closely suits the contour of your arch. For a close-to-custom fit, Ideastep insoles are available in four different arch heights and are made with medical-grade support.

For firm help and a semi-custom fit, we suggest Ideastep Insoles.


What You Must Be Conscious Of

The first step is to understand precisely what you’re paying for so you can decide if it’s right for you. We’ll discuss the following topics in this article:

  1. all of the costs to think about before buying
  2. what you’re getting for your money
  3. what medical experts have to say about them
  4. and whether they’re worth the money


Are Custom Orthotics Expensive?

Although custom orthotics can cost anywhere from $200 to $800, you should also consider hidden costs. The top surfaces of these devices will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. This can cost anywhere between $50 and $100.


Furthermore, after extended use, the plastic or EVA foam material used in the orthotic will give way. You’ll have to buy a new pair of custom orthotics if this happens. These expenses add up over the course of a lifetime.


Are Custom Orthotics Protected By Insurance?

If your health insurance covers the cost of custom orthotics, you’ll normally only be responsible for 10 to 50% of the overall cost. It’s important to remember, though, that insurance also does not protect them. Check to see if your insurance coverage would cover the expense of custom orthotics before you go ahead and order them.


Why Do Custom Orthotics Cost SO Much?

Custom orthotics usually cost $100 or less to make (including materials). So, where does the high cost come from, and are custom insoles really worth it?


What You Get For Your Money When You Buy Custom Orthotics

The following factors affect the overall cost of prescription orthotics:

Examined – Bear in mind that the podiatrist is testing the lower extremities, gait, and lifestyle. X-rays, treadmill gait examination, and other measures can be used.

A podiatrist can make a non-weight-bearing cast of your feet.

Feet are still a company, so there’s a mark-up.

“It’s hard to see the meaning in the plastic,” says Manhattan podiatrist Dr. Robert Eckles. But, as he points out, we’re paying for “a thorough diagnosis of current and potential issues,” not just the orthotic.


It’s a good idea to have your podiatrist break down the cost for you so you know exactly how much each part costs. This is something only a reputable podiatrist can support you with.


Be careful if your podiatrist charges a high price for custom orthotic insoles but doesn’t thoroughly inspect your feet or even take a cast.


What Do Doctors Think About Custom Insole?

Though podiatrists often advocate for the use of custom orthotics, some sports medicine doctors aren’t persuaded they’re worthwhile. Dr. William O. Roberts, a St. Paul, Minnesota-based sports medicine physician, says:


“If your main business is feet, and prescribing orthotics is a part of your income, you could prescribe them 90 to 100 percent of the time. It’s a financial problem, and I don’t believe custom orthotics are necessary.”


Orthopedic surgeons often agree with this point of view when it comes to custom shoe insoles. According to Dr. John G. Kennedy, an orthopedic surgeon in Manhattan,


“There is a major issue with orthotics that most people are unaware of. The number of orthotics I see prescribed in this city is far higher than the number of pathological reasons warrant.”


The preparation of medical doctors (MD) and podiatrists (Doctors of Podiatric Medicine, DPM) is one factor in this difference of opinion:


Physicians go to medical school for four years, studying several general principles before completing a three-year internship in a highly specialized area.

Podiatrists attend four years of training, focusing on the foot and ankle, before completing a one-year podiatric internship. Although this may make them specialists on all things foot and ankle, they can lack broader systemic concerns that would be discussed by a sports medicine or orthopedic physician. However, before prescribing custom orthotic inserts, a successful podiatrist can look at the big picture.


According to the results of a 2009 study: “Prefabricated orthoses were as successful as custom orthoses at two to three months and 12 months… Custom orthoses do not seem to be more successful than prefabricated orthoses.”


With so many doctors and research challenging the need for custom orthotics, you might be wondering if you really do. The reality is that certain people want custom orthotics without a doubt. This demographic, according to Dr. James Ioli, DPM, Chief of Podiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, includes those with:


Foot conditions that are difficult to treat

People with diabetes who have lost sensation in their feet

Circulation problems

Arthritis-related extreme foot deformities

However, for the vast majority of people, particularly those with Achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, arch pain, heel pain, and kinetic chain pain, over-the-counter orthotics are the best choice.



Creating high-quality, custom-made orthotics is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. “Making effective foot orthotics is thus a multi-step procedure involving thorough and complex cast correction, orthotic fabrication, and application of additional products recommended by your podiatrist for the treatment of your particular condition,” says Richard M. Olsen, DPM.



Your feet will be casted after your podiatrist has performed a thorough examination of your legs and feet, taken the appropriate measurements, inspected your shoes, and inquired about your lifestyle.


It’s vital that your podiatrist does the following when you’re getting casted for custom foot orthotics:


Create a cast of your foot that is not weight-bearing. You should either sit or lay down.

Your foot should be in a neutral position. Your podiatrist will need to determine the position of your knee in relation to your foot and change your foot accordingly.

Plaster is the most common process for making this cast. The foot is covered in wet plaster strips. After that, the empty “negative foot mold” is sent to the orthotics lab. The cast will be filled in and the shell will be discarded by the lab. The “positive cast” that results resembles your foot.


Your podiatrist can keep an eye on your foot location as the plaster hardens (which normally takes 5-10 minutes). Since the plaster takes a full 24 hours to harden, the podiatrist will store the cast after extracting it before taking it to the lab.



The negative foot mold and your personalized prescription are sent to an orthotics laboratory after your podiatrist takes the correct non-weightbearing cast of your feet.


Your prescription will contain not only the fabrics, dimensions, and accessories that will be used in the production of the orthotics, but also the cast correction requirements. These estimates come from your podiatrist’s detailed analysis before casting your foot.


Custom-made insoles vary from stomp-box versions in this regard. Your podiatrist will inform you how the orthotic should be created to fix your feet’s biomechanical abnormalities (shown in the neutral cast). The bio-irregularities would be built into the orthotic by a stomp-box.


Following the development of the positive cast, the lab produces the orthotics by following the steps below:


Your individual cast is pressed against a sheet of graphite or plastic material at high temperatures.

The tougher heel and arch frameworks are covered with a cover made of a comfortable yet tough material.


Your custom orthotics must be made of materials that can withstand the different pressures and movements you place on your feet in order to get the best performance. Materials must be robust enough to avoid injury-causing irregular motion while remaining flexible and secure enough to accommodate your activities.


The rigid base of your orthotic is made of one of two types of materials:


Plastics – Polyolefins are the most common type of plastic. Polypropylene is the most commonly used plastic.

The thickness of the material is generally between 1/8” and 1/4” thick.

Plastics have a wide range of flexibility, from very flexible to very rigid.

Graphite is a family of materials that is lighter and thinner than plastics.

The thickness of the material is half that of plastic (1/16” to 1/8”).

Has a broad range of rigidity and flexibility.

Cushioning materials like Neoprene and open- and closed-cell formulations are commonly used to add comfort to the tougher plastics or graphite. Know that the central structure of your orthotic can never be made of these softer materials.


Polyethylene foam is the most common material used to cover the plastic or graphite arch-support and heel cup. Closed-cell orthotics are ideal for total-contact, pressure-relieving orthotics. The following are examples of individual materials:


Ethyl-vinyl acetates are a type of ethyl-vinyl acetate (EVAs)


Silicones are a type of silicone that is used to

When choosing materials for your orthotics, a successful podiatrist will understand your lifestyle and body shape. Two important considerations, according to podiatrist Simon Spooner, PhD, are the patient’s weight and activity level. “I work with professional rugby players who weigh about 280 pounds and have sprinting speeds equivalent to Usain Bolt. It’s difficult to build foot orthoses that can withstand those kinds of forces. You must choose the best horse for the mission at hand.”


Your unusual foot necessitates special attention. Materials that are suitable for one person can be harmful to someone else.


If you’ve determined that you don’t fit into the small percentage of people who need custom orthotics and are considering purchasing over-the-counter orthotics instead, there are a few features to search for to ensure you’re getting the help you need.

Different Arch Heights – Just as your arch isn’t one size fits all, your insole shouldn’t be either. If you have a low or extra high arch, the arch of your insole should fit the contours of your foot and have complete contact from one end to the other.

Medical-Grade Support – High-quality, long-lasting arch support is made of solid, firm support that can withstand the pressure you apply. Cushy foam and gel do not have the arch support your arch needs to relieve foot fatigue or discomfort.

Deep Heel Cups – Under the heel bone, your foot has a fatty pad that cushions each step. Look for an insole with a deep heel cup, which will help your foot withstand shock more effectively. It will provide you with more warmth and security.

Check out Tread Labs’ array of over-the-counter insoles when you’re out shopping. Our insoles come with a Million Mile Warranty, guaranteeing that your arch supports are covered for the rest of your life.


You’ll just have to replace the top covers when necessary because our insoles are made up of two parts: molded arch supports and interchangeable top covers. Over the course of a lifetime, not having to repair the whole insole would save you a lot of money.


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