An old professor of mine once said, “Your feet are the only interface that your body has with the ground”.
I thought to myself, of course our feet are the only interface we have with the ground now that we have evolved from apes, we no longer use our arms and hands for weight bearing during locomotion!
With that keen observation in mind, it is clear that the feet and their position on the ground will affect everything above them (ankles, knees, hips, and spine) and everything above the feet will, in turn, affect your foot position on the ground.
Therefore, to ensure optimal health of your muscles and joints throughout the body, it is imperative that your feet are in correct alignment. Unfortunately, many of us started out with or have developed poor foot alignment and as a result, suffer from pain and joint dysfunction, either in the foot and ankle or in the joints up the kinetic chain and spine and even into the neck.
Don't Fret... Orthotics Can Help!
Orthotics are devices that are designed to align your foot and ankle into the most anatomically efficient position. Orthotics are custom made to correct your specific foot imbalance.
Custom orthotics work on your feet much like glasses work on your eyes... they reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment.
The body of the orthotic or shell of the orthotic helps to realign the foot by redirecting and reducing certain motion that takes place during the gait cycle.
Who Can Benefit From Orthotics?
1. People with foot pain: Almost 8 in 10 Americans have experienced foot problems of varying degrees which can be painful and disabling. Orthotics can help people with foot and ankle pain that results from diagnoses such as plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, ball of the foot pain, chronic ankle sprains and bunions to name a few.
2. People with knee and back pain: Orthotics can be effective in relieving pain symptoms from chronic knee, hip and lower back pain conditions that may OR may not stem from poor foot biomechanics. In other words, orthotics can be used to help with back or knee pain that is a result of poor foot biomechanics or back or knee pain that occurs in isolation of faulty foot biomechanics.
3. People who work on their feet: Hours of standing on your feet can take its toll on the lower extremities especially your feet. The supportive and cushioning qualities of orthotics can help reduce foot, leg and low back fatigue.
4. People who want to improve daily wellness: In certain cases where you are not experiencing foot, leg or back pain but there is faulty biomechanical alignment in the foot, orthotics can be preventative against developing pain and degenerative changes in the joints of the lower extremities and the spine.
5. People with diabetes: Diabetes can cause neuropathy in the lower leg and foot which can cause foot pain and dysfunction. Orthotics will keep the foot in the correct position reducing further discomfort and damage to the joints of the foot.
6. People with arthritis: Age and wear and tear on our joints can cause arthritic changes in the foot, ankle, knee, hip and spine. Orthotics can help prevent the worsening of these arthritic changes and enhance foot mobility.
7. Athletes and runners: We are all so active these days and tend to push our bodies to the limit. If you are someone who places a large physical demand on yourmusculoskeletal system ( bones and muscles), then you may be a candidate for custom orthotics to cushion and support your feet and prevent injury during your sport or workout.
8. People who are overweight: Orthotics relieve the stress and forces of extra weight offthe ligaments in your feet and legs.
What Kinds Of Orthotics Are There?
Generally, orthotics are either biomechanical and accommodative.
Biomechanical orthotics are designed to change the position of your foot on the ground. Those who would benefit from this type of orthotic are those with minimal degenerative changes in the foot and ankle and people with a good amount of mobility in their feet and ankles.
Accommodative orthotics are designed to simply cushion and support your foot as it is without changing its alignment. Those with moderate to severe degenerative change and poor mobility in their feet and ankles are candidates for accommodative orthotics.
Specifically, many orthotic labs offer different types of orthotics based on the activity you are doing the most.
Orthotics that are made specifically for runners are built with materials to cushion and support the foot during running.
Orthotics that are made for specific sports such as basketball are made with materials to support the foot during the lateral and propulsive movements involved in basketball.
Orthotics can be made to fit all types of shoes from an athletic shoe to a flat and even a pump... the list goes on.
All orthotics are removable and can be transferred shoe to shoe as long as they can fit in the shoe.
Bottom line...if you are in the market for a custom orthotic, you can have orthotic that will satisfy your specific needs.
How Can I Get a Pair Of Orthotics?
If you feel that you may benefit from wearing a custom pair of orthotics, I can make them for you.
I conduct a detailed assessment of your foot biomechanics in different positions.
I make molds of your feet in a neutral position with plaster of paris. These casts are called slipper casts.
I use the clinical information that I garnered from my assessment and I design an orthotic that will best maintain your feet in the most anatomically efficient position.
I send the casts and my clinical information to the orthotic lab that I use and they then fabricate the orthotic itself.
It is important to know that orthotics alone may not eliminate your pain entirely. Orthotic fabrication is an adjunct treatment to be used in conjunction with a comprehensive program of physical therapy. This program may include soft tissue mobilization, joint mobilization, and stretching and strengthening of the foot and ankle and other joints of the lower extremity and spine as well as balance and proprioception training.