Carbon Fibre Footwear Stiffening

Carbon Fibre Stiffening is a footwear modification that involves installing a 2-3 millimetre plate made of carbon fibre into footwear.

The plate is contoured to the general shape of the shoe and is used to immobilise an area of the foot without immobilising the ankle.

Orthotics Plus creates hand-made carbon-fibre plates at our clinics in Melbourne. It is important to note these are different to traditional foot Orthotics, which is a common misconception.

These are used to treat symptoms of foot-related conditions, with the most common being osteoarthritis in the big toe or midfoot, metatarsalgia, long term navicular fractures, hallux rigidus and hallux limitus.

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How do Carbon Fibre Stiffening Insoles Work?

Patients who are appropriate for Carbon-Fibre Stiffening will have their foot measured during consultation at Orthotics Plus.

We use a piece of high-quality carbon fibre and a grinder to modify the piece to perfectly fit the patient’s shoes, effectively the same size and shape as the sole of the shoe.

There are two ways to install the carbon fibre plate:

  1. Installed into the shoe – similar to an Orthotic. The advantage of this is that they are removable between shoes. The disadvantage is that it takes up additional space inside the shoe, and may not be compatible with all shoe types and patient comfort.
  2. Embedded into the sole of the shoe. Orthotics Plus will request your shoes, split them open, install the carbon fibre plate and close the sole. The advantage of this is the internal space of the shoe is unchanged.

The carbon fibre plate stiffens the entire bottom of the shoe, which acts as a reinforcement to limit certain movements, such as the extension of the toes or ball of the foot.

These can be used to support both short term and long term conditions, your Orthotist will guide you as appropriate. The ideal outcome is to help people live with less pain, be more mobile and live with a greater quality of life!

Who Might Benefit from Carbon Fibre Stiffening?

The most common reason for this referral is when a patient has pain symptoms however are generally not appropriate for surgery, or for those seeking to delay surgery for as long as possible.

The advantage of Carbon Fibre Stiffening is that the solution is not invasive, nor a permanent change, so at times, it is preferential to trial over surgery. It is also low cost and low risk.

Most patients that are referred for this service are older adults with osteoarthritis and similar chronic conditions presenting in the foot.

Carbon Fibre Stiffening may be appropriate for people with an acute injury, including younger adults, such as a fracture in the great toe or stress fracture

As mentioned, Carbon Fibre Stiffening is used to immobilise an isolated region of the foot, opposed to solutions like AFOs or Moon Boots which also immobilise the ankle.

Carbon Fibre Stiffening FAQ

It is possible to combine the two, which is common in conditions such as midfoot OA, great toe OA and stress fractures. This is when the patient needs to reduce movement through the midfoot whilst also providing medial arch support.

The carbon fibre stiffening and foot orthotics are not interchangeable and are used for different purposes.

We only treat the symptomatic side. It is actually more common to only require a single carbon fibre stiffener, but there are occasions that a pair is required.

Having a single carbon fibre stiffener will not affect your gait.

In most cases, we advise patients to simply purchase one stiffener to begin with, use it and provide us with feedback as to its effectiveness.

Assuming the patient is satisfied, they would purchase more stiffeners as necessary.

Generally, no, an assessment is not necessary.

Patients are able to contact us and request to drop-off their shoes for fitting.

In the event a patient would like guidance to know if certain shoes are appropriate, our Orthotists can assist you choosing supportive shoes.