Your feet are the foundation of your entire body. They must withstand pressures every day of two to three times your body weight as you move.

Just like the concrete foundation of your home has to hold the weight of the entire house, your feet have to hold up your entire body weight. If the foundation of your home begins to shift or can no longer hold the weight, your house begins to show physical changes or signs of “settling” — all the way up to the roof.

The same scenario occurs in your feet. There are 52 bones, 36 joints, and lots of ligaments in your feet. If the ligaments become stretched or the joints become rigid or stiff, your foot can no longer efficiently resist the daily forces that are applied to them.

Over time, this leads to the breakdown (arthritis) of the joints in the feet, microscopic tearing of the ligaments (plantar fascitis), and fatigue of the foot muscles.

If you are experiencing these problems, you may find yourself suffering after walking or standing for even short periods of time.

As well, you might feel sharp pain at the bottom of your feet as soon as you get out of bed in the morning.

However, this is not the end of your potential problems.

When your feet are settling or changing structurally, other areas of your body can be dramatically affected.

Changes in your feet can cause pain in your knees and shins.

Particularly if one foot changes more than the other, pain can also show up in your hips, pelvis, and low back. In dramatic cases, changes in your feet can lead to postural alterations in your spine that can cause problems up as high as your neck, usually showing up as neck stiffness and muscle tension headaches.

If these problems sound like you, then you may wish to consider being fitted for a pair of custom orthotics. A quality pair of custom orthotics is made specifically for your feet.

It is highly unlikely that any two people should have identical feet and therefore their orthotics will never be identical. In fact, it is likely that you would need a different shape orthotic for your left versus your right foot.

Many different types of “prefabricated” or “off the shelf” orthotics are available, but they are not made specifically for your feet and for your individual foot problems.

To ensure that you do not make your foot problems even worse, only wear orthotics that are custom made for each of your feet.

It is also important to ask the practitioner if there is some kind of guarantee and warrantee with the finished product.

Sometimes the orthotic may require an adjustment or modification in the initial thirty days or so to achieve a good fit. This is often done without a charge.

Now that you know why, you may want to reconsider purchasing that $350 pair of non-custom orthotics the next time you see a vendor at a mall or home show kiosk.

On a separate note, if you anticipate being fitted for custom orthotics, extended health plans often cover 80 per cent of all or part of the cost.