Wearing Orthotics

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Center for Sports Medicine


Instructions for Wearing Orthotics


It takes approximately one to six weeks to become accustomed to wearing orthotics. During this adjustment period, there may be some discomfort in the form of foot or leg cramping or direct irritation to the skin. Usually, this is part of normal body adjustment and resolves within a short period of time. To minimize discomfort, the following instructions may be helpful:

  • Wear the orthotics one hour the first day, two hours the second day, increasing the time by one hour each day so that by the end of the first week, you are wearing the orthotics seven hours a day. (Children usually adapt more rapidly than adults.) This schedule need not be strictly adhered to, as it may be necessary for you to divide the wearing time during the day. Do not be discouraged if your adjustment period is slower.
  • The orthotics should be worn with socks or stockings during the break-in period to minimize skin irritation.
  • Discuss with your doctor the different types of shoes in which you may wear the orthotics.
  • The removable insole present in most athletic shoes should be removed and replaced by the orthotic. If the insole is flat and has no arch or heel reinforcement, it may be placed on top of the orthotic. A flat surface gives you the best results.
  • If the orthotics squeak in your shoes, apply talcum powder to the inside of the shoes. Paraffin wax may also be applied to the front of the orthotic if needed.
  • The orthotics may be cleaned with soap and lukewarm water, but hot water will damage them.
  • If the orthotics or stabilizing device on the bottom are broken or damaged, notify the office at your earliest convenience.
  • Growing children should be re-evaluated every two shoe sizes.
  • Call the office if you have any difficulties or questions about the use or care of orthotics.
  • Remember, orthotics are designed to work with -- not in place of -- the physical therapy and rehabilitation program designed for your specific injury.

Important Notice:

We cannot give medical advice about how to treat a specific injury. While we may discuss general exercises to prevent sports injuries and also may recommend methods that can be effective in treating sports injuries, not all exercises are designed for all individuals or problems. A physician should be consulted before starting any exercise program. If you are experiencing any severe pain or discomfort, it is particularly important to seek the advice of a knowledgeable physician and get a specific diagnosis and management plan for your problem. The remedies outlined here are general recommendations and are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

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San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 353-6000