Your feet are the foundation of your body. When your feet feel good, your body feels and performs better. However, if you suffer from any type of foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain, custom-made foot orthotics are often recommended to treat your specific needs. Custom-fabricated foot orthotics are created especially to fit each of your individual feet. These foot orthotics can help reduce unnecessary stress on your feet, legs and lower back by realigning your gait from the feet up or accommodating specific conditions, like diabetes or arthritis, which you may have.
However, some people, including doctors, believe all foot orthotics are created equal. This is simply not true.
Fact: Custom orthotics can vary greatly depending upon how they’re made.
In order to fabricate a truly custom-made foot orthotic, a three dimensional mold of the foot is required. What most people don’t realize is this mold-making and orthotic fabrication process can be very time consuming and sometimes messy. Plus, the custom-fabricated orthotic is only as good as the molding process used to create it.
Several casting methods are used to create an impression of the foot, including plaster casting, slipper casting, impression foam or 3D digital foot scans. All of these methods can be successful if they’re done properly. However, not all foot care professionals are skilled in performing these casting methods. Nor do they use the methods that have been shown to be most effective.
This method uses casting gauze similar to that used to set broken bones. The foot is captured in a subtalar joint neutral position, which means the joint located in the rear foot is neither pronated (rolling inward) or supinated (rolling outward). This method also captures the plantar contour (sole) of the foot, as well as the forefoot-to-rearfoot relationship. Plaster casting is good for creating functional support orthotics. However, it requires skill and training to do correctly.
The cast is created when the patient is in a non-weight-bearing position – either lying face up or down on the examining table. The patient may also be seated with the leg raised and the foot flexed. The medical professional wets the casting gauze and places it on the foot in a specific way to capture the contours and shape of the foot. The professional will hold the toes and gently push the foot back with their thumb placed on the 4th and 5th metatarsal heads in order to make sure the foot is in the neutral position during the drying phase. Once the cast is dry and hardened, it is gently removed from the foot.
Similar to plaster casting, slipper casting isn’t as messy or time consuming. The patient is either sitting or lying on the table, so the foot is in a subtalar neutral position. A plastic bag is placed over the patient’s foot. Then the medical professional wets a slipper made of casting gauze and places it on the foot, contouring the gauze to the foot similar to the plaster casting method.
A foam box is used to capture the foot impression. This semi-weight-bearing process is used when a patient is unable to lie down for a plaster cast due to a medical condition or injury, or if the patient doesn’t have forefoot-to-rearfoot misalignment. Foam box impressions are often used for creating accommodative inserts for patients with severe arthritis or diabetes.
The patient is seated with the foot in a subtalar neutral position. The foot is gently placed on the foam surface in the middle of the foam block. The medical professional gently and slowly guides and presses the foot into the foam with equal pressure on the heel and the ball of the foot while keeping the patient’s lower leg straight up and down. The patient presses their foot into about two inches of the foam, without grasping the foam with their toes. The patient’s foot is then removed, leaving an impression of the foot in the foam. The process is quick with minimal to no mess.
Some practitioners use a foam box impression with a weight-bearing technique where the patient is standing during the process. However, most medical professionals don’t recommend this technique since it can flatten the medial, lateral, and/or transverse arches of the foot, creating an inaccurate impression.
Foot care professionals must be trained properly to perform both the semi-weight-bearing and weight-bearing techniques in order to create a correct orthotic.
3D Digital Foot Scan:
This method digitally scans the foot, creating a full-color 3D digital cast or impression. This process is quick and eliminates the mess of plaster or foam box methods.
Since this is a weight-bearing process, the patient stands on the platform of the machine, placing one or both feet on the sensor plate. The operator clicks a button and a computerized image of the foot is taken. Some digital machines use hydraulically driven or reverse-action pins that fill in the gaps and contours of the plantar surface of the foot. In all cases of digital scanning procedures, the process is fully automatic. The data is then used to create the custom orthotic using computer technology.
However, be aware that some places use a pressure-mapping system that only provides a 2-dimensional representation of the foot. The computer then extrapolates or “guesses” the remaining details of the foot to create the 3D cast.
Other labs claim to provide a custom-fitted orthotic, but it’s not exactly custom-made to the individual’s foot. While they do make a computerized scan of the foot, they actually compare the person’s scans to existing scans in a large database. A “custom” orthotic is created based on an existing orthotic in their library that closely matches the person’s foot. This method is used to reduce the lab’s production times.
ezWalker®: A Biomechanically Correct Orthotic
There is only one casting method for custom orthotics that delivers an orthotic designed to biomechanically enhance the way you walk. This method uses either an impression foam technique or a digital method employing the reverse action pin system. When crafting a biomechanical functioning orthotic, the foot must be placed strategically in the molding medium, so the rear of the arch is supported strategically at the STT (sustentaculum tali) joint and allows the big toe, or the 1st metatarsophalangeal joint, to move and function. If this joint is locked up in any way, the foot will not function in a biomechanically correct manner.
The Walkezstore.com uses a biomechanical non-weight-bearing casting method that is unique to our store. Your foot is placed into impression foam in a strategic manner using our 7-step process, which will control the hind foot and allow proper function of the 1st metatarsal joint – creating a better step with each step you take.
After you place your order with The WalkEZstore.com, you’ll be sent an impression kit complete with video instructions that will walk you step-by-step through the process on how to create a biomechanical impression of your feet. You send your impressions back to us; and we can create a custom-made orthotic that will relieve your pain and allow improvement to your foot’s health.
Most casting methods found on the Internet instruct the customer to step into the impression foam slowly, yet completely, from a weight-bearing position as if you were simply taking a step. This method allows the foot to collapse and will only produce an orthotic that accommodates a collapsed foot. Some instruct you to use a seated position; however, they simply tell you to push your foot into the foam and remove it. This, too, will create a collapsed foot. Neither one of these methods will create a quality impression. Ideally, the orthotic should redirect the foot and help it to walk better. A collapsed foot cannot be redirected. Therefore, this type of orthotic is simply a waste of your money. The best bang for your buck is the ezWalker® Custom Performance Orthotic. Read what people are saying about our products.
Better impressions make better orthotics, and we stand by our custom orthotics with a 90-day, money-back guarantee. So, you’ve got nothing to lose, but your pain. Try the ezWalker® Custom Performance Orthotic today!
Because … when your feet feel good, you feel good.