Pre-mold Vs. Custom Fit: How Custom Orthotics Work

There is no substitute for 100% precision and accuracy when it comes to orthotics and at SOLO Laboratories (SOLO), we understand this better than anyone. With the experience to prove that a custom versus pre-mold fit yields better outcomes, including less returns and higher quality, we custom build to exact specifications to offer greater precision and satisfaction. Of course, pre-mold orthotics set forth their own set of benefits such as affordability and availability and therefore, we want to educate our community on the fundamental differences between the two available options.

Consider how custom orthotics work and the major differences between a pre-mold and custom fit.

  • How custom orthotics work:
    Designed to align the foot and ankle into the most anatomically efficient position, custom orthotics are biomechanical medical appliances that can fit into a shoe, much like an insole. Custom orthotics are the ideal solution for patients with localized foot pain, bunions, hammer toes and/or pain in the arch of the foot, leg or back. Custom orthotics help correct gait cycles and improve stabilization by reducing stress and strain on the body as well as minimizing muscle fatigue. Orthotic manufacturers, like us, utilize software such as TOM-CAT 3D foot scanner and CAD/CAM technology, to custom build orthotics to exact patient specifications. Designed from the precise imprints of a patient’s foot, the plastic body of the custom orthotic help correct any specific foot imbalance. Custom orthotics can be made to fit into most shoes.
  • Pre-mold orthotics selected by shoe size:
    Often, companies carry a variety of devices that can be easily inserted into a standard shoe to support and relieve the foot of any imbalances or pain. Pre-mold orthotics can take the form of basic padding and rubber heel cups to full-length insole shells and are considered an over the counter product. Fitted by shoe size, pre-mold orthotics have proven to help decrease plantar fasciitis symptoms1 and improve pronation control2 for some patients. In addition to the foot health benefits of pre-mold orthotics, the devices are also moderately inexpensive to stock and fit, providing enhanced availability and a generally lower cost of materials.

Among the most popular pre-mold orthotics include:

  • Redi-Thotics is SOLO’s line of pre-molded orthotics that address lower extremity pain. This pre-molded orthotic focuses not only on comfort, but on the problem of improper mechanics during gait cycle and over-pronation. The Redi-Thotics line has a unique focus on the gait cycle, which allows the specialized heel, arch, and force distribution materials to work as an integrated insole to better stabilize, support, and protect the foot.
  • The FRELONIC Ultimate Pre-Molded Orthotic is the culmination of many years of clinical experience and thousands of patient studies. A composite shell material provides a high level of support and stability. It is 50% thinner and is lighter in overall weight compared to traditional materials used in other orthotics.
  • Custom orthotics that offer an individualized fit:
    Custom orthotics are built to a patient’s exact specifications derived from an image of each foot. At SOLO, we accept plaster, foam and TOM-CAT 3D foot scanner images. Our in house developed CAD/CAM technology is used to generate a semi-weight-bearing or non-weight-bearing foot image. Custom orthotics utilize a wide range of materials from leather and cork to high-tech materials such as carbon fiber. In addition to being custom manufactured to foot specifications, custom orthotics can also be tailored for specific shoe types, such as sport or dress. Among the many advantages of a “custom fit,” such orthotics help with the individualized correction of biomechanical faults – helping with the adaptation and relief of underlying musculoskeletal issues. For pain in the pelvis or spine, for example, a custom orthotic will offer a more predictable response and longer-term relief.

For more information on SOLO, please visit or contact us at 800-765-6522.


  1. Pfeffer G, Bachetti P et al. Comparison of custom and prefabricated orthoses in the initial treatment of proximal plantar fasciitis. Foot Ankle Int 1999; 20:214-221.
  2. Brown GP, Donatelli R, et al. The effect of two types of foot orthoses on rearfoot mechanics. JOSPT 1995;21:258-267.
  3. Kim Christensen, DC, DACRB, CCSP, CSCS. Custom-Fitted vs. Off-the-Shelf Orthotics. Dynamic Chiropractic.



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