Dr. Scholl’s “Custom Fit Orthotics” and Orthotic Foot Mapping Machine: Let the Buyer Beware

In the past weeks we have had several patients in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic ask about the Dr. Scholls’s Custom Fit Arch Supports and the Foot Mapping machine they use to sell the arch supports.  The device, which can be found in a number of local stores, is advertised as an “orthotic center”, and they claim that a customers’ results will guide them to the correct arch support for his or her foot.

People want to know if the arch supports are worth the money.  Given that most Dr. Scholl’s arch supports cost about $20.00 and the ones at their “orthotic center” cost about $50, it is a very good question.  In short, we found that these are simply the $20 arch supports re-priced at $50 and our opinion is that they are very overpriced for what you get.  The “Dr. Scholl’s Orthotic Center” is, in our opinion, a sales gimmick.  As podiatrists, we see these gimmicks come and go.  At the end of this article we’ll give you several suggestions on better arch supports at the same or less cost.

We recently visited a Seattle Bartell Drugs where we were able to evaluate the orthotic Center and the “custom fit orthotics” that they sell.

What is Dr. Scholl’s Foot Mapping Machine?

It is a device to measure pressure.  You first remove your shoes and step up onto a platform that contains 2,000 pressure sensors that can tell where you typically apply the most pressure when you’re standing.  You then receive a suggestion as to the best of the 14 orthotic inserts you should buy for your feet.

Can the Foot Mapping Machine Really Help in Choosing an Arch Support?

Not really, although it does actually measure pressure when standing.  The first problem is, however, that the orthotics they sell are too soft to effectively transfer pressure.  We evaluated each of the 14 different models and found some shape differences in the arch supports, but each of the devices were so soft that they collapsed completely with a little hand pressure.  Under body weight, they will all collapse.  So it doesn’t matter if it is the correct orthotic for your foot, once you stand on them, they will all be flat.   The second problem is that there is no evidence that pressure readings provide any information that can help in choosing the shape of an orthotic.

How do the $50 Dr. Scholl’s Custom Fit Orthotics” compare to Regular Dr. Scholl’s Arch Supports?

We then compared the $50 “custom fit orthotics” to the regular Dr. Scholl’s arch supports in the foot care aisle.  Except for the $30 price difference they were all essentially the same – and all of them very soft and flexible.  Too flexible in fact to provide any support.   To redistribute pressure, an arch support must be somewhat firm – otherwise your body weight will simply flatten it out.

Better Arch Support Choices

There are a number of arch supports on the market that provide much better support than Dr. Scholl’s at the same or less cost. These include:

  • Superfeet (approx. $38) Available online or at most shoe stores and running stores.
  • Sole:  (approx. $40) Available at running shoe stores
  • PowerStep: (approx. $38 – $65 depending on model) Available online or at doctor’s offices
  • New Balance: (approx. $40) Available at running shoe stores and New Balance stores.

All of these are superior to Dr. Scholl’s at less cost.  The only one that costs more is the PowerStep Medical Grade Orthotic, but this is the most stable prefabricated orthotic we have found.

More prefabricated orthotic information available here.

More information on orthotics in general can be found here. Check out all the links under “orthotics”

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