Good for the Sole: Reduce Foot & Ankle Pain

A recent survey from the Pedorthic Association of Canada found that 91 per cent of patients reported a reduction in foot and ankle pain within six weeks of wearing custom orthotics. Here, what you need to know.

That’s the point, says president Kevin Fraser, but he believes orthotics also have a ripple effect. He points to his experience with cardiac rehab patients at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre: “Being able to walk without pain enables them to participate in the program to regain their strength and cardiac [health] level.” Beyond his patients, Fraser points out that 64 per cent of the study’s respondents said their maximum walking capacity improved as well.

Fraser’s work with Sunnybrook includes developing better ways to determine gait abnormalities with tools such as pressure-sensitive floors. But simple shoe wear can be just as telling.

The outside heel and big toe are normal places for wear. But wear that radiates up the outer edge of the shoe or on the inner edge, including the heel, is not. And according to Fraser one of the clearest signs of trouble is asymmetry, a different wear pattern on one shoe than the other. The imbalance “could lead to problems going all the way up into the back and spine.”

And worry not about shelving your favourite footwear. Composite materials such as carbon fibre mean thinner, lighter insoles that can be fit into existing shoes. In time for summer and new to Canada is Australia’s Revere comfort footwear (women’s, shown above) made with extra deep insoles to accommodate orthotics. The foot beds of their sandals can be removed and replaced with a partial or full-length orthotic. From $145, For a pedorthist referral, see your doctor or go to to self-refer.

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2016 issue with the headline, “Good For The Sole,” p. 28.