What are orthotics?
Orthotics are any device used to support and align part of the body. Custom made foot orthotics are inserts that are worn inside shoes. They can be used to relieve pain, improve skeletal alignment or improve the function of your foot and lower limb.
What do orthotics do?
Depending on the design, orthotics can cushion and support your foot by redistributing the pressure areas on your foot. They can also be designed to support and improve the alignment of the bones in the feet and legs. Improper foot alignment can lead to a wide variety of foot, knee and lower back problems.
- Achilles tendonitis- Inflammation of the sheath surrounding the tendon, pain behind the heel, ankle and lower calf. Caused by stretching of the tendon suddenly or repeatedly (over-pronation) Orthotics correct the biomechanical imbalance and prevent repeated stretching of the tendon.
- Shin Splints - Inflammation of the tendons and muscles in the front or inside of the lower leg. Caused by abnormal pronation and overuse which excessively pulls the tibialis posterior muscle damaging the muscle's insertion onto the tibia. Orthotics correct this imbalance.
- Chondromalacia patella (runner's knee) - A degenerative softening of the cartilage covering the patella causing knee pain and medial soreness. Caused by excessive abnormal pronation with counter-rotates the femur and tibia cause the patella a track improperly. Orthotics correct this biomechanical imbalance.
Custom orthotics are designed to alleviate the biomechanical issues of YOUR foot. It is important to have your feet and shoes properly evaluated prior to getting orthotics. Beware of companies that provide only one type of orthotic - it may not be right for you.
General Foot Types:
There are two general types of misaligned feet. Pes planus ( flat, flexible feet) and pes cavus, (rigid, high arched feet) The flexible foot is commonly call the the over-pronator. The arch of this foot type collapses toward the ground when standing. This creates excessive collapse of the feet and will subsequently create excess movement up into the legs and knees.
The rigid high arched foot, called the supinator, has a high arch contour even when weight bearing. Walking with supinated feet, is like walking on boards and has poor shock absorption and cushioning. This can lead to various joint problems.
Low back pain can result from both of these foot misalignments.
Would orthotics change my feet?
Orthotics work to support and reposition your feet. Like eye-glasses, they help us when we are wearing them. When we remove the orthotics, they have not changed our feet at all. Orthotics allow us to maintain our lifestyle and activities, while reducing the symptoms.
Can I wear orthotics in any shoes?
Orthotics can be designed for virtually any shoe type but are usually designed with a particular shoe type in mind. It should work well with shoes of a similar style. If an orthotic is designed for a running shoe, it will not fit a properly in a high heeled dress shoe. Also sandals restrict orthotic use.
Can orthotics help with arthritis and diabetes?
In patients with these conditions, special care is taken in supporting and cushioning the feet, while relieving excessive pressure areas. Typically, these orthotics act as special supportive pillows for your feet.