Life is full of little choices. As students head back to college, more and more of those choices fall on them instead of their parents. Now they have to work on their own meals, manage their own time, and take care of their own health. Of course, parents, this doesn’t mean you can’t help with those choices, especially when it comes to health and dealing with issues like foot pain. Many students just don’t know where to start with things like orthotics. However, getting the right kind of insole is important for alleviating foot pain.

There are custom orthotics and there are over the counter insoles. These are not the same thing. Think of it like the difference between prescription driving glasses and the reading glasses you can buy at a drug store. Custom orthotics are prescription-based inserts that are molded and designed to fit a person’s specific feet and biomechanical needs. Over the counter insoles are pre-fabricated inserts that are meant for generalized discomfort or mild foot conditions.

Some people need the specific care and foot control that a prescription orthotic provides. Others, however, do not—an over the counter insole is enough to support their lower limbs and alleviate their discomfort. So which is best for you or your student? That depends on the needs the inserts are meeting.

Over the counter insoles are great if you just need a little extra cushioning and arch support. Maybe you spend a lot of time on your feet for your job or activities. Maybe you struggle with mild overpronation when you’re active. Maybe you have a sore ball of the foot from sports. These mild issues can usually be solved with inexpensive insoles.

Bigger, more serious biomechanical issues will need orthotics that can adjust foot function. Issues like diabetic ulcers and deformities will need specialized orthotics that fit the feet exactly. Athletes who put their feet under a lot of stress may need more support than an over the counter model can provide.

In the end, talking to experts like our team at Carolina Podiatry Group is the best way to determine what your or your student’s feet really need. We can do a full evaluation that checks for foot issues that need control or specialized care. Then we’ll help you get exactly what your lower limbs require. Make an appointment at our South Carolina offices before you pick out insoles. Call (803) 285-1411 for our Lancaster office, or (803) 548-FEET for our Indian Land location.

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