Bespoke Shoes Unlaced – a shoemaker's blog

Friday, 22 February 2013

The business of orthotics

I don't know if other shoemaker have noticed this, but the use of orthotics seems to be on the increase?

In the last six months I would say that 90% of customers were wearing orthotics. So this week's blog isn't so much about answers but more, questions as to "am I right?", and ," if so, why?". Is it that people have more foot problems; are more aware of them; or that orthotics help manage more complex perambulation problems?

Wth our customers, we first discuss why they wear orthotics and whether we can/and they want us to incorporate the adjustments into their lasts / bespoke shoes.

This could be anything from creating a 'pocket' in the underside of the last for an enlarged big toe joint to  creating a light, up-in-waist to support a flat arch without prohibiting its ability to flex.

If they are in a lot of pain or the situation is complex, we ask the client if we can talk to their podiatrist to seek their expertise and work with them to achieve the best result for the client.

When we measure a client who wears orthotics, for bespoke shoes we
- take their foot measures with and without the orthotics underneath the sole
- we take a foam impression of each foot
- we draw around the outline of the orthotics top and bottom; note their dimensions and depth at certain points .

This gives our lastmakers enough information to create a last that fits and a record of the contours on the underside of the foot to create a suitable insole-up-in-waist if needed.

In many cases, finding shoes that have enough back height for the orthotic is a big problem and that is where bespoke can provide an attractive solution. By creating a last that incorporates room for the orthotic we can create a design that disguises the increased back height.

We hope to learn more about orthotics this weekend - we're meeting shoemaking friends old and new at the annual Independent Shoemaker Conference - as this year's host is Mr Bill Bird whose expertise in perambulation is unsurpassed!

Until next week, happy shoemaking.