When your doctor first recommends orthotics, you might feel a sense of relief. You can finally get the support you need for chronic pain and discomfort. Although they’re designed to help you feel better, orthotics can take some getting used to. Find out what to expect from orthotics and learn when you should wear them for best results.
How to Break In Orthotics
Before you get orthotics, you might expect that they’ll provide immediate relief, but in reality, they might feel strange or uncomfortable at first. As a result, you might wonder, “Should orthotics hurt at first?” or “Do I need to have my orthotics adjusted?”
Although your orthotics may eventually need adjusting, do your best to get used to them before making changes. After all, orthotics are rarely comfortable at first. That’s because they essentially retrain affected muscles to work differently. For example, many lower extremity orthotics apply pressure to the arch of your foot, adjusting the way your muscles move as you walk.
In most cases, your body needs two to four weeks to become accustomed to any type of orthotics. That means you should plan to wear them regularly so your body can adjust. Follow these tips for the first few weeks:
- Ease into wearing your orthotics. For the first few days, wear your orthotics just two to three times over the course of the day.
- Start with a few minutes per wear. On the first day, aim to wear your orthotics for half an hour at a time. In between wears, remove your orthotics to give your body a break.
- Give yourself goals. After the first day, strive to add 30 minutes to each wear. At the end of the week, you’ll have graduated to wearing your orthotics for almost the entire day.
- Remove orthotics for strenuous activities. Until your orthotics feel comfortable enough to wear all day, remove them before doing any physically demanding activities. By taking this extra step, you can avoid unnecessary soreness or discomfort.
Even when you gradually ease into all-day wear, your orthotics may give you trouble at first. To make them as comfortable as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Let your body rest between wears. For the first week or so, give yourself plenty of breaks. Take off your orthotics between each wear, allowing for a few hours of rest before putting them back on.
- Get your orthotics adjusted. After three weeks, you should feel accustomed to your orthotics. At that point, they should provide some relief for persistent symptoms. Yet if they continue to make your body feel sore or tired, don’t hesitate to take action. At Scheck & Siress, we can adjust orthotics and help them fit your body better.
- Maintain your orthotics carefully. To ensure that your orthotics provide optimal support, treat them with care. Follow the provided instructions to clean them regularly and avoid exposing them to heat or moisture. If you find that they offer less support than they once did, talk with our team about replacement or refurbishment.
When to Stop Wearing Orthotics
When your doctor first recommends orthotics, it’s easy to assume that they’ll become a permanent part of your wardrobe. However, in many cases you can wear them less over time or during certain activities only. In some cases, you can even stop wearing them altogether.
After all, orthotics come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. They also offer various levels of support for different types of activities. Although some are designed to wear around the clock, you may need to wear others at certain times of day only. Your chronic symptoms and ongoing progress may also affect your orthotic needs.
You may need to wear orthotics long-term if you have severe issues that prevent you from doing everyday activities, such as a flat foot. In this case, orthotics may prevent additional injury or more serious symptoms, but you may always need orthotics to correct the problem.
You may need orthotics for the short or medium term if you’ve sustained an injury that needs help to heal properly. Over the course of a few months or a year, your muscles and tendons may heal fully, allowing you to stop wearing orthotics altogether.
Instead of wearing your orthotics when it’s convenient or comfortable, get professional advice to find out what’s best for you. Talk with your podiatrist or physical therapist to confirm when you should wear your orthotics and when it’s okay to remove them. Your provider may recommend that you wear orthotics for a specific amount of time each day or when doing repetitive or high-stress activities.
If your symptoms have improved significantly, your care team may also recommend that you gradually reduce your orthotic use. For example, as your elbows or wrists become stronger, you may be able to wear upper extremity orthotics for less time each week or month.
What Happens If You Don’t Wear Orthotics?
If your podiatrist prescribes orthotics, it’s important to wear them as recommended. If you neglect to wear them as prescribed, you could worsen any injuries to your muscles or tendons. You could also experience related symptoms, such as back, leg, ankle, or elbow pain.
Although some patients worry that orthotics could weaken their muscles or tendons over time, there’s no evidence that this belief is true. Instead, orthotics are designed to help your muscles and tendons become stronger and work more effectively. Because this process takes time, it’s important to follow your care team’s advice for optimal results.
If you’d like to accelerate the strengthening process and stop wearing your orthotics sooner, talk with your podiatrist or physical therapist. Your care team may be able to guide you through exercises that can help you build muscle strength and overcome conditions more quickly.
No matter what type of orthotics you need, our team is at your service. From upper to lower extremities, our orthotics can address a wide range of conditions. Contact Scheck & Siress today to learn more about our custom orthotics.