Do Not Wear Orthotics! 10 Reasons Not to Wear Orthotics

Zero Drop and Sock Doc have put together a top ten list of why you should avoid orthotics if you really care about your feet – actually if you care about your entire body. Caveat: some extreme foot deformities or injuries may require the assistance of orthotics. But c’mon, for millions of runners and walkers? There’s nothing natural about these artificial accoutrements. Much like the 10 Reasons Not To Stretch, some of these are valid reasons not to wear orthotics, and some are just plain funny, (at least we think so). Please read the main article, Are Orthotics Really Ever Necessary?, before you go nuts with some angry comments.

  1. Your HMO covers the cost of orthotics despite their inability to ever allow you to run pain-free. How can you pass up these savings?
  2. Along with stretching, you have read that the best way to stay injury-free is to have a running shoe with additional internal support so that your feet are well-protected.
  3. You stand on a concrete or wood floor all day long and some unenlightened foot doctor or television infomercial convinced you that hard flat surfaces will wreck your feet and lead to leg and back pain.
  4. You’re interested in dampening or desensitizing your nervous system and if the orthotics prove so successful, you hope to speed this non-kinesthetic progress by wearing oven mitts when you are at the computer.
  5. If you are on the short side, your vanity won’t allow you to wear elevator lifts, so you settle for the several millimeters advantage from orthotics.
  6. You read online somewhere that the new carbon graphite orthotics are lighter and more aerodynamic than those “old wooden models.”
  7. You’re almost sure you saw a cheetah wearing a set of tree-bark orthotics on some Animal Planet show and since they’re the fastest animal in the world…
  8. Orthotics were found in the fossil record 5,000,000 years ago.
  9. (For triathletes) Would you show up for a bike ride with kiddie training wheels?
  10. Your back aches so you spend all day in a back brace; so why not wear a foot brace when you have foot pain?

Sock Doc Newsletter


    • says

      That’s actually from last week, and I have a comment in there on the NY Times page:

      “Runners get injured for a variety of reasons, some which Gretchen briefly mentioned such as a poor diet and too much training. But ultimately it all comes down to the biomechanics of the runner, or any athlete for that matter, as the biomechanics are significantly influenced by those very factors – diet, training, and what you wear, (or don’t wear) on your feet.

      Muscle imbalances occur when your body is under too much stress. If you’re training too hard or too frequently with inadequate rest, if you’re under too much stress at work or home, if your diet is loaded with refined foods, or if you’re wearing shoes that alter mechanics, then muscle imbalances result and pain and injury follow.

      So minimalist-type shoe and barefoot runners will still get injured if they train improperly and live their lives under too much stress, but often they are taking just one more injury-provoking factor out of that injury-prone equation – that of poor footwear.”

  1. Will says

    What about those diagnosed with osteo-arthritis? Most of these reasons seem like quaint little jokes. Now, granted, I would love to walk about pain-free without the orthotics, but they have thus far been a true godsend! And, I’m only 39.
    What is the alternative? I enjoy hiking, and my job involves a LOT of walking…
    You could cut about 7 of these reasons for mere silliness… and the rest of us would appreciate some honest and intelligent information…

    • says

      Yes Will, a lot of the top 10 list is just for fun, of course, but not all of them and the main post re:orthotics is 100% serious. But I guess you didn’t think that post was honest and intelligent info either, sorry to waste your time.

  2. Good Times.. says

    Awesome sense of humor! I was prescribed orthotics as a child and as I get older I have become more and more skeptical of them. Ironically enough, it was a chiropractor who got me started down this long road of misery with all of the foot wear modifications (well intentioned of course). I’ve been experimenting with minimalist shoes and I think that after I have some time to strengthen and adjust that it’ll be the way to go!

    Thanks for all the free info sock doc!

  3. Daniel says

    Hi There,

    I sort of agree with Will in regard to this issue. I was born with very flat feet which gave me a lot of back and knee pain but I still struggled on with 8 years of school boy rugby, and other sport. The only thing that gave me some relief is a rigid orthotic, however jogging as an exercise still hurts me quite a lot so I cycle and hike and I have literally spent over 10K -15k on shoes and orthotics over the years.

    The issue for me is no-one with all their fancy degrees and years at college really has any idea how to treat the issue of flat feet, there are so many mixed opinion and I have spent thousands of dollars going to podiatrists who dont have much of an idea past orthotics.

    So sock dock what is the answer for me and everyone else with flat feet – Orthotics or Natural? If natural are there any exercises a person can do to strengthen their arch? have you seen anyone recover from flat feet?

    I would appreciate your input!

  4. Ron Willson says

    My feet started breaking down in Sept. 2012 and were fully broken down to painful flat feet by the end of October. Orthotics, both shoes and custom molded inserts, have been a great relief. Not a cure, and still painful, but will postpone the transition on to braces. If I were to go natural, I’d be in braces in about 3 months or so. There are exceptions to your mantra, actually quite a few of us, and you should at least acknowledge that yes, there are some circumstances where orthotics are actually necessary.

  5. NanKat says

    Well looks like my closet full of insoles that have not worked~I have Morton’s N. surgery on both feet and left foot twice still came back on the left foot~ I also have a fused ankle on the right leg from a car accident in 78~I wear Birkenstocks in the house which have taken the pain away from both feet and cured Planter fas. in left foot! I want to try to do what you suggest but kinda scared to get the pain back ~I have been wearing Birkenstock inserts for several months in my running shoes which feel awesome but now I have had tailbone pain lately. Do you think I would benefit just wearing my asics without the birk insert~ I really think your right ~my old Orthopod did not like junk in the shoe either his words not mine. I just fear the morton pain! I love to walk and man it hurts without anything~~Thanx


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