Most people know about orthotics, shoe inserts that are used for support, but not many people know the difference between store-bought orthotics and custom orthotics from a podiatrist. Although they have a similar structure to the ones you can buy in stores, custom orthotics are pretty different.

Let’s take a look at what the differences are below.


Store-bought orthotics are not custom. They come in a limited variety of shapes, materials, and sizes, and you pick one that best fits your feet. Some stores carry a “testing” machine on which you stand and the machine recommends the best orthotic for you based on a quick reading of your foot structure. The machine is designed to recommend products from a limited collection of pre-made orthotics that are for sale at the store.

There is nothing cookie-cutter about custom orthotics. They offer a fit like no other. Your podiatrist will order orthotics based specifically on your feet so that they fit you like a glove. Not only will they be customized to the exact fit of your feet, but they will also account for any abnormalities or structure issues your feet have. This way, your orthotics will be made specifically for your exact needs.


Store-bought orthotics don’t work with all shoes and aren’t for all feet types. They only closely resemble your foot. Therefore, they might not be as comfortable as a pair you can get specially made for you through a podiatrist.

When you opt for a custom shoe orthotic from a podiatrist, you receive a pair that’s for your feet only. It can be made from a variety of materials, depending on your preference and your podiatrist’s recommendation. Your podiatrist will even discuss which shoes you typically wear. This way, you can wear orthotics as much as possible with your footwear. In the end, you will walk away with orthotics that are designed for your feet and with your preferences and needs in mind.


Custom orthotics are designed with support in mind. Without support, orthotics are useless. While store-bought orthotics claim to offer much-needed support, they do not go far enough. Custom orthotics account for the exact structure of your feet and are crafted with high-quality and specifically chosen materials. As such, the level of support with custom-orthotics is unmatched.


The cost of store-bought orthotics is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to custom-made orthotics. However, keep in mind that you get what you pay for. Some insurance providers may cover the cost of custom orthotics if your podiatrist prescribes them. Some insurance plans may only cover part of the expense, while others may not cover them at all. Discuss the cost of custom orthotics with your podiatrist and the insurance company.

Why Choose Our Podiatrist in Cincinnati, Ohio for Your Foot Problems

Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care offers diagnoses and treatments for a variety of podiatric conditions and injuries. We also offer custom-made orthotics for patients who need them. Make an appointment and find out how orthotics can improve your quality of life.

Book an appointment with Cincinnati Foot & Ankle Care, serving Cincinnati, Ohio and various areas throughout Southwest Ohio, today. Call us at any of our locations, or use our online appointment scheduling tool.