Being from Houston, TX, you wouldn't think that wearing orthotics in winter boots would be an issue. After all, it's December and we're still staring down the barrel of temperatures in the upper 70s. Still, every so often, we see dips of the thermometer. And when that happens, everyone I know rushes to pull out their winter boots: if only to prove that buying them wasn't a waste! So, since the cold(er) weather could arrive any day now, I figured it was a good time to address the use of custom orthotics in winter boots (or even in multiple pairs of shoes.)
How Can I Use Custom Orthotics with Winter Foot Gear?
A custom orthotic is designed to balance your foot and ankle. A winter boot is meant to keep your foot and ankle warm. Typically, a winter boot lacks the structure and support that your foot craves, since warmth alone is it's primary function. This is especially true when it comes to the ever popular (and oh-so-bad-for-you) Ugg boots. Of course, an orthotic isn't going to provide any warmth to the foot--that was never the point of its function. And, given the fact that each product can fill a hole left by the other, it's only practical to think that the two should work together well.
Except...many people find that, when they try to insert their orthotic (which works great in their running shoes) into that winter boot, there simply isn't enough space to accomodate the device. That's a problem, and it's especially true if the orthotic is full length, which means it's built to encompass the entire sole of the shoe. That is why many people invest in two pairs of orthotics, to avoid the struggle of fitting a device intended for one type of shoe into another shoe with an entirely different set of design restrictions. In fact, many women who have an additional orthotic for their work or dress shoes are successful in transferring those devices into their winter boots. Think of this as food for thought, especially as the clock runs down for you to use up your 2019 HSA funds. If you've got some leftover funds, you may just want to invest in a second pair of orthotics, in order to ensure that your feet are supported in every pair of shoes you slip into.
Orthotics Should Fit Your Feet, Not Your Shoes
Now, after writing this post and suggesting two pairs of orthotics may be a worthwhile investment, I'm going to share this caveat with you guys. Why? Because I like to keep it real, and offer my readers full transparency. Here's the deal: most of my patients don't have a problem getting any of their custom orthotics into their winter boots, or into any second pair of shoes. That's because my philosophy is that orthotics should fit a person's foot...not just a particular shoe. For that reason, the majority of orthotics that I fabricate for the patients in my Houston podiatry practice are 3/4 length, which means they stop at the ball of your foot. I like this design because it allows for maximal support and control, while using minimal materials, to ensure that your orthotics fit in most, if not all, of your shoes. And, with our sleeker design, wearing orthotics won't mean that you have to increase the length or width of your shoe size. You can stick with almost all of the same old pairs that you're used to. Of course, I can't guarantee that 3/4 length orthotics will fit every pair of shoes you own, especially not those stilettoes many of my female patients just can't let go. For this reason, or to extend the life of your orthotic investment, it may still be wise to invest in two pairs.
But leaving aside the discussion of how many orthotics you purchase, just remember this take home message as our tropical winter approaches. You don't have to sacrifice warmth for comfort (or vice versa.) Come and visit my office so you can learn more about how your orthotics can serve you well in all of your shoes and boots.