Getting custom orthopedic shoe inserts can be a wonderful and freeing experience. With the ability to match an individual’s personal needs, orthotic inserts can help people do their daily activities without pain. Custom inserts are typically durable and will fit your foot almost perfectly. In order to keep them that way, there are a few things you should consider to take care of them.
What are Custom Inserts Made of?
To make a custom insert, podiatrists will wrap the subject’s foot in plaster to create a cast. From there, the casting material is molded onto the foot’s cast so it will fit perfectly to the patient’s foot. Most custom orthotics are made from easy-to-mold materials like Thermocorks, Neoprene, or Plastazone. These inserts are usually a bit bulkier than the kind of inserts you can get in a store and have their own unique set of care needs.
Cleaning Your Inserts
In the case your inserts get dirty, cleaning them is always an option. Unfortunately, inserts aren’t machine-washable, so you’ll need to clean them by hand. To do so, use a mild soap or laundry detergent, warm water, and a toothbrush to scrub off dirt. To rinse, wipe the inserts down with a warm washcloth. Dry them flat and in the open air to keep them from getting too damp.
Things to Avoid
Overall, the worst thing for your inserts is water, since it can warp the casting material and change its shape. While some casting materials are sturdier and more water-resistant than others, it is still important to avoid getting them wet. Extreme heat or cold can also cause them to warp, but damp inserts from sweat or rainwater are more likely.
If your inserts do get wet, take them out of your shoes and lay them flat to dry. Depending on the casting material, drying can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, so keep them flat and somewhere safe from pets and children. For some people, letting their castings “air out” overnight by removing them from their shoes is a great way to keep them from getting soaked with sweat.
When to See a Podiatrist
Over time, it is normal for your inserts to wear down and become less effective, so scheduling appointments with your podiatrist every so often is key to keeping your inserts in shape. In the case they do wear down, podiatrists can reheat the inserts to adjust them, or they can make completely new inserts when tweaking the old ones is no longer enough. Typically, custom orthotics last 2-5 years.
If you or a loved one experiences foot, back, or knee pain while walking and standing, speak with your doctor. To browse orthotics, orthopedic supplies, and other foot care items, visit the Medical Supply Depot.