Who Pioneered Custom Made Orthotics?

Podiatrists have been using in-shoe appliances and therapies to treat walking related pain since the profession began to develop in the 18th century (Harradine and Bevan, 2009).  Between 1958 and 1959, podiatrist Dr Merton L. Root, pioneered functional foot orthotics after conducting hundreds of biomechanical assessments (Root ML, 1981).

According to an article published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Association, custom made orthotics started out in 1845 as built up layers of leather inserted into the shoe. In 1874 there were additions added to the outer-sole of the shoe as treatment. In 1988 Whitman described using a steel plate to force the foot into the correct position.


Family Podiatry Centre Doctor shows orthopedic insoles

Custom made insoles / Custom Orthotics


Modern Orthotics

Fortunately, orthotics have come a long way since then. A wide variety of lightweight yet durable materials have been adopted. This has made the patient’s treatment more comfortable. Custom made orthotics have also become slimmer, improving the fit and function of the orthotic. Modern clinics and labs have become more automated reducing the chance of human error. Insoles are designed using specialised software. A robotics arm then grinds out an orthotic in a process known as CAD/CAM. Recently, 3D printed insoles have become available. However, the process still requires fine tuning.


Family Podiatry Centre Orthotics

Custom made orthotics / insoles


Custom made insoles are used to treat a wide variety of foot, leg, knee and lower back type pain. In comparison to surgery, it is considered to be cost effective. It is important to realise that a custom made orthotic is only as good as your clinical examination and diagnosis. If the person prescribing the custom orthotic did not examine you in detail then the orthotic treatment is likely to fail. This is why custom insoles cannot be prescribed by salesmen, shopkeepers or stall vendors using foot scanning equipment. It is a medical device that requires a detailed physical examination by an experienced podiatrist. 


Podiatrist examining a patient's suitability for orthotic treatment

Podiatrist examining a patient’s suitability for orthotic treatment

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