Orthotics are devices designed to support or correct the function of the foot or ankle.

Medical practitioners prescribe different types of orthotics for foot, ankle, knee, hip, and lower back pain and problems.

Since there are so many causes and symptoms of foot conditions, good custom orthotics like Footsy Custom orthotics will not be made from the same material, as individual needs differ.

Materials for Different Types of Orthotics

  1. EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate):
    • Characteristics: Lightweight, flexible, and provides good shock absorption.
    • Common Use: EVA is often used in the midsole of athletic shoes and is a popular material for custom orthotic insoles.
  2. Polypropylene:
    • Characteristics: Semi-rigid and durable, offering good support and stability.
    • Common Use: Polypropylene is commonly used for the shell (the supportive base) of custom-made orthotics. It is suitable for individuals with overpronation or supination issues.
  3. Carbon Fiber:
    • Characteristics: Lightweight, strong, and rigid. It provides excellent support and durability.
    • Common Use: Carbon fiber is used in the construction of orthotic shells, especially for individuals requiring a high level of support or those engaged in high-impact activities.
  4. Cork:
    • Characteristics: Moldable, providing a customized fit over time. It also offers good shock absorption.
    • Common Use: Cork is often used as a top cover or as a component in the construction of footbeds to enhance comfort and conform to the individual's foot shape.
  5. Poron:
    • Characteristics: Soft, lightweight, and provides excellent shock absorption and cushioning.
    • Common Use: Poron is frequently used as a top cover in orthotic insoles to enhance comfort and reduce pressure points.
  6. Leather:
    • Characteristics: Durable, breathable, and provides a natural feel.
    • Common Use: Leather may be used as a top cover or in the construction of orthotic components to add a layer of comfort and breathability.
  7. Neoprene:
    • Characteristics: Soft, flexible, and provides good cushioning.
    • Common Use: Neoprene is often used in the construction of orthotic sleeves or braces, offering support and compression.
  8. Plastazote:
    • Characteristics: Lightweight, heat-moldable, and suitable for individuals with sensitive feet.
    • Common Use: Plastazote is commonly used as a top cover or in the construction of diabetic orthotics due to its soft and accommodating nature.

The Footsy team will determine the right materials to use for your custom orthotic depending on the following considerations:

  • Patient's weight The more a patient weighs, the thicker the material needs to be. The added thickness is necessary to accommodate the weight.
  • Shoe style. The material for a dress shoe orthotic is different from that of a work boot. We want to ensure the Footsy orthotics fit correctly in the shoe, so they are comfortable and supportive.
  • Biomechanical need While some feet need cushioning and added comfort, others need support and motion control. Your individual foot needs will determine the kind of materials used for making your orthotics.
  • Type of Orthotics :
    1. Functional orthotics These are designed to fit the foot contour, preventing abnormal movement or position of the foot. Because they provide foot control, they are made from hard orthotic materials like polypropylene (a type of plastic) and carbon graphite. Functional orthotics are useful in treating overpronation, plantar fasciitis, and heel spurs.
    2. Comfortable orthotics These provide protection and relieve pressure by cushioning and padding a painful or injured area. These orthotics tend to be bulkier and are made from softer and less rigid materials that can provide the needed cushioning. Such materials include EVAs (Ethylene Vinyl Acetates), neoprene (a type of rubber), and Plastazote (a type of foam). 

What Is the Best Material for Your Orthotics?

No single material is the best for every kind of orthotic. Instead, the best material for orthotics depends on their intended use.

For instance, firm, rigid materials like plastic and carbon fiber materials are the best orthotics for flat feet and plantar fasciitis, where rigid orthotics are needed.

In contrast, soft materials like polyethylene and EVA foam are best for flat feet and diabetic or arthritic conditions where soft orthotics are necessary.

Semi-rigid orthotics made from materials like leather, cork, and felt offer both cushioning and rigidity and are used to aid the muscles, tendons, and joints.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the material for making your orthotics is central to what you can use it for, how you can use it, and the effect you can expect. The best orthotic material is the one that helps you achieve your desired result.