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 unit in Fred Meyer, Walmart and other locations. 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 Seattle pharmacy to evaluate the orthotic center and the “custom fit orthotics” that cost consumers big bucks. Below are our results and our recommendations on some better arch supports for the same or less cost.
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 which 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 flexible 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. They can function as cushioning, but really do not provide support.
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. Remember, the primary purpose of an orthotic is to reduce abnormal stress on tissue. For example, if the ball of your foot hurts then we want to transfer pressure off of the ball of your foot. To do this the orthotic must have some rigidity in order to transfer pressure from the ball of the foot to the arch of the foot.
The bottom line is that these “custom fit” inserts are not a good deal at this price. We feel they are an adequate $10 arch support. For $50 there are much more supportive arch supports on the market.
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. That doesn’t mean, however, that all over-the-counter arch supports are worthless. There are a number of them that provide much better support than Dr. Scholl’s at the same or lower cost. The arch supports below are the ones we recommend to our patients (they are also affiliate links so we may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you if your order from the link).
- FootChair Podiatrist Designed Orthotic – The most supportive OTC support we have found. Great for essentially everyone as the arch height is adjustable with the included pads that can be added to customize the arch. This arch support was designed by podiatrists who specialize in orthotic therapy and incorporates many features that previously were only found in custom orthotics. Available online.(About $40). If you have very wide feet, however, we usually recommend the device below.
- PowerStep Wide – Best OTC support for people with extremely wide feet. Most OTC arch supports are too narrow for those with the widest feet. This is the only arch support we found that is wide enough for such feet. Available online and at doctor’s offices. (About $40)
- Superfeet – I like SuperFeet but they are not quite as supportive as the models listed above. They are also widely available in shoe stores throughout the country. (About $50)
- FootChair Slim – For women’s heels and flats and small sports shoes such as soccer cleats we recommend the FootChair Slim Orthotic with adjustable arch height. Same great arch support as the full size FootChair but in a size that fits everything from high heels to soccer cleats.
All of these are more supportive than the Dr. Scholl’s arch supports at lower cost. The FootChair 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 biomechanical 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.
In Seattle Come See Us 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.
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