Don’t Be Fooled by the Dr. Scholl’s Foot Machine – Buyer Beware

A few years ago, Dr. Scholl’s orchestrated a huge launch of their foot mapping machine. You have likely seen this monstrosity in Fred Meyer, Wal Mart and other locations and we have had many patients ask us about the Dr. Scholl’s Foot Mapping machine and the “custom” orthotics it recommends. They promise “all-day relief of tired, achy feet” yet the results fall far short of their advertisements.

The “Dr. Scholl’s Orthotic Center” is, in our opinion, a sales gimmick. As podiatrists, we see these fads come and go. There are a number of better arch supports that cost the same or less. If you are in the Seattle area, contact us for an appointment and we will help you find the best over-the-counter or custom orthotics for your feet.

After we started getting questions from patients, we visited a local pharmacy to evaluate the orthotic center and the “custom fit orthotics” that cost consumers big bucks. Here is what we found and what are some better options for over-the-counter orthotics.

What is Dr. Scholl’s Foot Mapping Machine and Does It Work?

Simply, it’s a device that measures pressure. You remove your shoes, step onto a platform with 2,000 pressure sensors that tell where you typically apply the most pressure when you’re standing. Based on this data, you are told with of their 14 orthotic insert models you should buy for your feet. The kiosk does measure pressure when standing, but there is no evidence that pressure readings provide any information that can help in choosing the shape of an orthotic.

Can Dr. Scholl’s “Custom” Orthotics Help Your Feet?

The orthotics Dr. Scholl’s sells are too soft to effectively transfer pressure. We evaluated all 14 orthotics the kiosk offers and found that while there are some shape differences in the different arch supports, they are so soft that they collapse completely with a little hand pressure. Under body weight, they will all collapse. So it doesn’t matter if it is the correct shaped orthotic for your foot, once you stand on them, they will go flat.

How Do the $50 Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics Compare to Regular Dr. Scholl’s Inserts?

We compared the $50 “custom fit” orthotics from the Foot Mapping kiosk to the standard Dr. Scholl’s arch supports sold in the foot care aisle. Other than a $30 price difference, they were all essentially the same – very soft and flexible – too flexible to provide any support. To be effective, an arch support must be somewhat firm, otherwise your body weight will simply flatten it out. The bottom line is that these “custom fit” inserts are not a good deal at any price.

What are the Best Over-the-Counter Arch Supports?

Over-the-counter arch supports can in no way be considered customized to your feet – no matter how many machines you stand on or what you’re promised Dr. Scholl’s marketing. But this doesn’t mean that all over-the-counter arch supports are worthless. There are a few that we do endorse that provide much better support than Dr. Scholl’s at the same or lower cost including:

  • P3 Podiatrist Designed Orthotic – The most supportive OTC support we have found. Great for everyone except those with very flat or very wide feet. Available online. (About $60)
    good arch support

    P3 OTC Orthotic. A better value.

  • PowerStep Wide – Best OTC support for people with flat feet and wide feet. Available online and at doctor’s offices. (About $40))
  • Sole Softec – This is not quite as supportive as the PowerStep and P3 but is the best at the $35 price point. Available online and running shoe stores. (About $35)
  • Superfeet –  I like SuperFeet but they are not quite as supportive as the three models listed above and they are more expensive than the Sole SofTec. Widely available in shoe stores.  (About $45)

All of these are superior to Dr. Scholl’s at lower cost. The P3 Podiatrist Designed Orthotic costs a few dollars more more than Dr. Scholl’s but is the most stable prefabricated orthotic we have found. Click here for more information on prefabricated orthotics. Click here for more information on orthotics in general.

How Do Orthotics Experts Evaluate Your Feet?

We have more than 40 years of collective experience as podiatrists, and know that diagnosing foot issues is much more involved than simply mapping pressure points. A full exam of your feet, a biomechical evaluation and a gait analysis are all necessary.

Custom orthotics are designed to control alignment and function of the foot in order to treat or prevent injury-causing motions such as pronation (rolling-in) and supination (rolling-out). They also act to make activities such as running, walking, and even standing, more efficient. Finally, they can act to redistribute pressure on the bottom of the foot to relieve pain from excessive pressure or calluses.

Come See the Foot and Ankle Center for True Custom Orthotics

The Foot and Ankle Center of Washington is the premier center for foot orthotic therapy in the Seattle area and entire Pacific Northwest. Our podiatrists’ unique credentials make them some of the nation’s most skilled at custom-designing orthotics. Read more here on why our orthotics work better.  If you want orthotics truly customized to your feet that will address your specific foot issues, The Foot and Ankle Center can help. Contact us to make an appointment to discuss your foot issues and how orthotics can help.


Leave a Reply