Sydney Sports Podiatry

Custom Orthotics

There are plenty of articles debating soft versus semi-rigid orthotics, and even some health professionals advertising they can fix most foot problems with “foot mobilization techniques” (Similar to a chiropractor “cracking” and manipulating the joints of the feet). The truth is that the majority of people who “over-pronate” (feet roll inwards/ arches collapse too much) do so because of hyper-mobility due to ligament laxity (double jointed in layman’s terms. Mobilizing the joints of the feet alone for a patient with hyper-mobility has only extremely temporary benefit, if any at all. This is especially true if the patient has tight calf muscles, which is almost always present in our patients with foot problems.

With regards to soft v rigid orthotics, and everything in between, every orthotic we prescribe has a degree of flexibility, relative to the weight of the patient and their activity. We normally add a thick soft top cover where bulk restrictions won’t make the shoe too tight. A large number of patients frequently comment how much more comfortable our orthotics are compared to their previous pair from elsewhere.

There are some websites claiming: “We make soft, flexible orthotics that promote the natural motion of the foot”. I suggest most of these can be classed as “placebo-thotics” and you’ve just wasted several hundred dollars on something as ineffective at fixing your problem as an off-the-shelf device from the chemist, or over the internet. We have a bucket full of these in our office from patients which we have had to replace with something more effective, as they weren’t able to support the patient’s foot properly and the patient had little improvement in symptoms or function as a consequence.

The important thing is that the stiffness of the shell needed is relative to your weight and your activity.

We frequently see orthotics coming in with an arch that can be flattened with a few kilograms of thumb pressure. Imagine how effective that is for any walker (one to two times body weight on foot impact) or runner (three to four times body weight on impact). An average running patient with hypermobile feet weighing between 60 and 80 kgs is placing 180 to 320kgs of force through each foot at impact. So, if your soft orthotics are helping, you can probably modify your running technique and you probably don’t need orthotics at all, or maybe just an off the shelf device.

The other major cause of a lot of secondary problems is having a LEG LENGTH DISCREPANCY. This is missed by most health professionals, as I have experienced firsthand. My own 13mm short left leg was missed by three experienced physiotherapists, two podiatrists and two sports physicians as a teenage distance runner.

We will run through a series of checks to see whether you may have an actual difference (as opposed to a functional one from a twisted pelvis or one lower arch), and then organise to refer you a proper accurate leg length measurement. Sadly, many patients with a long history of foot, Achilles, calf, knee, hip or back/neck problems have had their leg length difference missed.

At Sydney Sports Podiatry, we use in our opinion the best and most technical orthotic laboratory in Australia (Orthotech in Melbourne), and have one of the highest re-order rates in Australia and hence we frequently hear: “Yes, it’s really helped so can I have a second pair please”. Let’s face it: No one wants a second pair if it isn’t working…


  • Reduced Thickness and bulk in shoe
  • Reduced Weight
  • Superior Spring return
  • Still better than 3D printed poly also.

We took these yesterday to show why carbon is faaaaar superior to the crap cheap poly so many others churn out. Turns out we are one of the few clinics confident enough to use mostly carbon (but we still use some EVA and poly as price point and for super heavy patients and kids to keep cost down).

Carbon (black thin shell) is 2.7mm thick to work as well as 4mm poly (grey shell). Doesnt sound like much but bulk difference is massive. Means less shell, more padding and more comfort.

Sydney Sports Podiatry

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OCNL St Medical Centre Mezzanine Level 12 O’Connell St SYDNEY NSW 2000

Phone: 02 9241 1577 (Press 1 For Podiatry)

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The Sports Physio Clinic 9-11 Phillip Mall, Kendall Street West Pymble, NSW, 2073

Phone: 02 9418 2926

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Wollstonecraft-Mater Clinic Physiotherapy 2/3 Gillies Street Wollstonecraft, NSW, 2065

Phone: 02 9460 3500

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7/143-151 Military Rd, Neutral Bay NSW 2089, Australia

Phone: 02 9904 2180

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