Shoe inserts (Orthotics)
Have you been told you need orthotics but you’re not sure why or what purpose they serve?
Orthotics or correctly termed orthoses in Podiatry terms are a customized or prescription device that assists your foot in its correct function. When you get pain in your feet and legs, it can often be due to the structure and hence function of the foot.
The functional movement of the foot and leg is termed biomechanics, which in simple terms translates to a biological structure made of soft tissue and bone that has a mechanical function. Just like your motor vehicle needs to be tuned and the tires balances in order to run smoothly and efficiently, the movement of your foot needs to be timed and balanced correctly in order for the muscles and ligaments not to fatigue and become painful. Your foot is made up of 28 bones, 33 joints, 103 ligaments, has 19 muscles in 4 layers and an extremely intricate network of blood vessels and nerves. With nearly 25% of your entire body’s bones located in your feet and your entire body weight resting on them, you can begin to understand why they are so functionally important.
What an orthotic does is enables the correct timing action of your foot when it is in contact with the ground. It is much more precise than a simple ‘arch support’. As the foot remains in contact with the ground for milliseconds, it is required to act like a shock absorber when it initially hits the ground and then transform into a rigid lever for efficient propulsion as it leaves the ground. This action works even quicker when you are running and 3 times your body weight is transferred through your foot. Poorly functioning feet can also be a contributing factor to lower back, hip and knee pain.
Just like spectacles, you can get simplistic ones over the counter that are not made for your specific individual problem. These may assist you partially, or they may even make things a little worse. If you see an Optometrist, you will have your eyes tested and if there is a problem with them, you may be fitted with prescription spectacles, with one lens being slightly different to the other, depending on which eye needs more correction. Foot orthoses are similar, where simple ‘arch supports’ can be purchased over the counter and are not specific to your individual needs. You may find that these devices do not help with your particular problem.
This does not mean that you don’t need prescription orthoses. If your particular problem requires biomechanical intervention, then a prescription pair can be made to match your individual needs such as activity, weight and footwear constraints. Our Podiatrists at Junction Podiatry are experienced practitioners in this area and can assist you on your road to recovery.
For more detailed information, see our Acrobat pdf Information sheets on Orthotic instructions and Selecting the proper shoe which are available on our website.
Please remember that the information in these documents should not be used as a substitute for podiatric or medical attention.