Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Arizona Braces and Custom Orthotics

Monday morning I had my appointment to get fitted for my custom orthotics.  So, in other words, I'm full on my way to being a grumpy old lady ;)

I went to the same place, and had the same dude, that I got my arizona braces (AB) from.  Those arizona braces basically held off my ankle replacement surgery for about two years.  Wearing them helped me to stay on my feet just a little longer because they work by simulating a fusion.  They're not the most comfortable things to wear, but without them I would have been so much worse than I was.

For those who have never seen these braces in person, they are made of a rigid plastic and covered in leather.  The inside, where they touch your leg, has a thin foam layer.  You put them on (with socks, or they will end up stinking to high heaven), lace them up, and then wear them with a rigid shoe...I sized up a half a size, took out the insoles, and wore them with sneakers.  The worst part for me was that they got very hot in the summer and I even ended up getting athlete's foot and had to treat my feet with over the counter spray.  Yeah, not so sexy.

Looking at the picture, you may ask, "why are they different?".  One is taller than the other and the heels are different on them as well.  The only answer I have is that since these are custom made, and I had them made about a year apart, they will vary.  I do think that the one that did not have the rigid plastic on the heel was more comfortable than the other.  At times my right heel would go numb because of the plastic.  So if you have to have these made, ask for a soft heel.

When I was fitted for my ABs, it was all very hi-tech.  I placed my foot on a stool and then the tech, Ryan, used what looked like a grocery store scanner to “paint” my foot and leg with the laser.  The images came up on the computer and are then sent to whoever makes them.  It takes about 2 weeks for them to come in.

Getting fit for my orthotics was different.  No laser beams that look like a scanner.  Instead, I had to place my foot into this blue foam.  Actually, Ryan took my foot and gently placed it in there and then pushed down on my toes and in the correct places on my foot to insure that I had a perfect footprint.  The foam felt like I was stepping in sand, but when I took my foot out it was all debris left.  I did this for both feet and we were finished in about 5 minutes.  Easy peasy.  Like the ABs, they should also take about 2 weeks to come in.

As a kid, I had custom orthotics made for my flat feet.  They were horrible and very painful to wear.  I asked Ryan if my new orthotics would be like those, all the while hoping that in the past 30 years that medical science had greatly improved in this area.  He said that they don't even make those kind anymore because they were too rigid.  Thank God!  Ryan said that the new ones will be firm, with a thin padding on top.  I'm just hoping that they will fit into shoes other than sneakers.  I've been confined to sneakers for the past 3 years or so because of the arizona braces.  I'd really like to wear some boots!

I miss my boots!


  1. Those first braces look so familiar...though I only had one...
    My custom orthotics were fitted in a much different way...but that was 12 years ago and I now no longer need to wear them.
    I wish you well with you new gear. I so hear you on the boots...haven't worn boots in...15 years.
    I have Vibrams I wear in winter, and chacos I wear in summer, and when my feet get too swollen from the oral steroids for my asthma, I shove them into crocs and suffer the consequences.
    With Feldenkrais therapy though, I can now go barefoot (hence the Vibrams). I have no idea what your situation of origin of issues is since we just met, but I want to help in any way I can. Feel free to email me anytime. My email is in my sidebar. Feeling for you, sister.
    Tina @ Life is Good
    On the Open Road! @ Join us for the 4th Annual Post-Challenge Road Trip!

    1. Hi Tina...I had to google half of what you posted LOL! Thanks for all the words of encouragement. The Feldenkrais thing sounds very interesting.