ORTHOTICS

What, When and Why we use Orthotics. Pain is the body's way of warning you that something is wrong or mal-aligned in your body. 

If you ignore your pain, the condition causing it could become worse. Your practitioner will advise you what you need to do to eliminate the pain and may prescribe orthotics for you.

Orthotics are special bespoke insoles which are worn inside your shoes. They are manufactured from a cast of your feet and are used to treat or adjust various biomechanical disorders and injuries throughout the body. Orthotics, are custom made from a prescription using a variety of materials depending on your particular needs.


Who should use an Orthotic?

Because perfect feet are very rare, almost anyone can benefit from orthotics. They can prevent and alleviate many of the common foot complications that cause discomfort in otherwise healthy people. An analogy can be made between orthotics and eyeglasses. Both adjust bodily imperfections that inhibit people from functioning at their maximum physical potential.


How does an Orthotic work?

To explain how orthotics function it is important to understand the mechanics of walking. Each step, the vertical axis of the heel ideally should land almost perpendicular to the ground, with a slight inclination of only a few degrees toward the outside of the heel. From there, the weight is distributed progressively toward the lateral (outside) side of the foot. As the little (or fifth) toe starts to touch the ground, the arch of the foot should flatten slightly, shifting the body's weight toward the medial (inside) side of the foot. The heel then should start to lift off the ground, shifting the weight to the medial forefoot, principally the ball of the foot and the first toe.

This coo rdinated motion occurs in much less time that it takes to describe. It is, nevertheless, a complex process in which many things can go wrong. If a structural problem is present, the foot can collapse under the body's weight. Busy people in particular exert much greater forces on their feet than those generated by simple walking. This can lead to more severe injuries, such as sprained ankles, shin splints, knee pain and even back pain.

Over time, stresses on the feet can deform them. One of the foot's main functions is to absorb shock as the body's weight shifts with each step. It does this through a complex process in which the arch of the foot flattens slightly. This absorbs and distributes the weight throughout the entire foot. There are two major problems that can occur in this mechanism.

The f irst occurs when the arch does not flatten at all. This typically occurs in a person with a high arch, called a cavus foot. Because the arch does not flatten, it absorbs shock poorly. Instead of spreading it throughout the entire foot, the weight of the body falls only on the heel and the bases of the toes. This increases stress on the foot, especially the heel. Furthermore, because the weight is not absorbed well in the foot, it radiates up the leg to other joints. Over time, this can cause pain in the knees, hips and lower back.

To correct this condition, an orthotic is used to bring the ground into even contact with the rest of the foot. This allows the entire foot to support the weight of the body. Extra cushioning can be built into the orthotic so that some of the force does not even reach the foot.

A different problem results if the arch flattens too much. This is known as an over pronated planus or flat foot type. In such cases, the weight distribution on the foot is too far on the medial-inner side. A flat foot is unstable and cannot maintain a proper arch. Over time, the weight of the body on an unstable foot will cause the bones of the foot to become misaligned. This can lead to the development bunions, hammer toes and other foot deformities, as well as knee, hip and lower back pain.

To address this problem, an Orthotic with an increased arch will be prescribed to distribute the weight laterally. Depending on shape of the foot, the heel of the Orthotic can be slanted to shift the weight more toward the center of the heel.

 

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