How Often Do I Need to Replace My Custom Orthotics?
Unlike flimsy drugstore insoles, which tend to wear out in a matter of months or even weeks, our orthotics can typically continue to provide effective foot pain relief for years.
But unfortunately, nothing lasts forever—especially if they’re designed to both be comfortable to wear and get walked on every day. Even the best orthotics will eventually need to be replaced.
And for that reason, it definitely helps to have an idea of how long a lifespan you can expect for your orthotics, as well as know what to look for in an “aging” pair. The goal is to get your orthotics refurbished or replaced before they lose the ability to support and protect your feet!
Unfortunately, it isn’t always so easy to determine that point. While a typical custom orthotic might last around 2-3 years on average, not every case is a typical one. Some people need theirs replaced every year, while others can get 5 years or more (occasionally much more) of use out of theirs.
In other words, it really is a case-by-case thing. But as we said, you can still learn to identify the early warning signs, as well as make sure you come in for your yearly orthotics checkup, in order to ensure you are getting the most out of your orthotics for their full-service life—without waiting too long to upgrade!
Factors that Can Affect the Lifespan of Your Orthotics
Once again, custom orthotics are built to last, and our goal is always to give you as much use out of each pair as possible. That said, there are some consistent factors that can help determine whether your particular set of orthotics are likely to last longer or shorter than expected. These include:
- Construction materials. A set of orthotics made from a semi-rigid material like graphite or carbon fiber, for example, may be expected to last a bit longer than orthotics made from very soft and squishy materials.
- How often you wear them. In general, most of our patients with orthotics are instructed to wear them at all times. However, some may only need orthotics for certain shoes or activities, or you may have different pairs of orthotics for different pairs of shoes. If you aren’t walking on that set every day, or for only a few hours every day, they’ll last longer.
- Your lifestyle. As you might expect, people who spend a lot of time standing and walking (or even running and jumping) will wear down their orthotics faster than those who are mostly sedentary.
- Your body. Let’s put it this way: an NFL linebacker is probably going to wear out his orthotics faster than a 90-pound grandmother—and not just because he probably has a more active lifestyle. The heavier you are, the more strain you are going to place on your inserts.
- Major life or medical events. Custom orthotics are crafted not only to fit a specific foot shape, but also a specific set of gait mechanics. Major events such as surgery or pregnancy can alter both. Consequently, even though your orthotics may not be physically compromised, they may no longer be what you need.
- The simple passage of time. We highlighted things like pregnancy and surgery as events that can significantly reshape your feet or gait in a short period of time. But the truth is that our feet are always slowly changing shape throughout our lives, just from normal aging and use. So your orthotics may need to be re-casted and replaced after many years of use, even if they remain in great shape otherwise.
Could My Orthotics Be Adjusted or Repaired Instead of Replaced?
In many cases, the answer is yes!
Obviously, it depends on the age of the orthotics, the materials used to create them, how extensive the wear or damage is, and how much your foot mechanics have changed in the meantime.
But in general, we’d rather repair, refurbish, or adjust your orthotics rather than outright replace them if we can.
Many orthotics can be reshaped to a degree through heat molding, adjusting the arch height, adding additional cushioning or material, adding heel lifts, replacing covers, and other methods.
Signs That Your Orthotics May Need to Be Repaired or Replaced
The main warning sign that you need to be most concerned about is pain. If your orthotics had previously been working great, but recently you’ve started to notice your feet are developing aches and pains more frequently, that should be a huge, flashing red light that something needs to change.
That said, you should also regularly inspect your orthotics for signs of wear and damage. A small stain or a couple of scuff marks are probably nothing to worry about, of course. But if you notice materials are warping, cracking, or buckling, your orthotics are probably about to go—if they are even still doing you any good at all.
And be extra attentive if you:
- Go through a major life or medical event, such as pregnancy, surgery, or injury
- Make significant lifestyle and exercise changes
- Gain or lose a large amount of weight
… as these factors can be precursors to needing your orthotics adjusted or replaced.
Is It Time to Get My Orthotics Checked?
Regardless of whether you are experiencing any noticeable difficulties with your custom orthotics, we strongly encourage you to visit us at least once per year for an annual orthotics checkup.
You may not notice anything wrong now, but your podiatrist might! We’ll assess the health of your orthotics, recheck your feet, and determine if any adjustments are required.
Again, our hope is that your orthotics will be repaired, refurbished, adjusted, or replaced as necessary before your feet start to hurt, not after!
Stopping in for annual checkups is a great way to help catch and deal with issues with orthotics early, so you can continue to enjoy pain-free activity with no setbacks!
If your orthotics don’t seem to be providing you as much pain relief as they used to, or it’s just been more than a year since you had them professionally examined, give the Texas Foot & Ankle Center a call today. We want to make sure you’re getting the absolute best performance and longevity out of your orthotics.
You can reach our office at (214) 660-0777, or contact us online.
Doctor's Professional Building 1
1151 N. Buckner Boulevard, Suite 201
Dallas, TX 75218
Monday - Friday
8:00AM - 5:00PM
Closed for Lunch
12:00PM - 1:00PM