Each of our feet is made up of 28 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. That means there is a lot of room for error. In these modern times we are not walking, climbing and running everywhere barefoot. Most of us are in shoes more than bare feet from a young age and it is possible our feet are not as strong or as developed as our barefooted ancestors.
So how can orthotics help? Here is a plug from The Orthotic Group, where we get all our orthotics made.
A custom orthotic is a device designed to align the foot and ankle into the most anatomically efficient position. They look like insoles, but are biomechanical medical appliances that 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 plastic body of the custom orthotic helps to re-align the foot by redirecting and reducing certain motion that takes place during the gait cycle. Custom orthotics fit into your shoes as comfortably as an insole – and they have the advantage of having been made from precise imprints of your feet.
If you are having foot pain there could be a plethora of reasons and you should probably come in for an appointment to check it out!
To give you an overview of common foot problems I can start with the photo above. On one spectrum there is the condition clinically called Calcaneal Valgus (pes planus) and pronation or commonly known as “flat foot’ and on the other end of the spectrum there is Calcaneal Varus (pes cavus) and supination or commonly known as “high arches”.
If you want to see where on the spectrum your arches fall you can step onto a piece of paper with a wet foot and make an imprint and match with the picture below. You can also stand barefoot and have a friend look at the back of your ankles to see if they are angling outwards (pronation) or inwards (supination).
Another common painful condition of the foot is plantar fasciitis. If you suffer from this condition, you will feel pain at the insertion site of the plantar fascia on your heel bone. There will have been micro trauma to your plantar fascia causing degeneration of the collagen fibers. Orthotics can definitely help with this condition by relieving the pressure on your heel and distributing your weight more equally when standing/walking. This will also prevent the condition from getting worse.
You are also susceptible to inconsistency and compensation with weight distribution through your feet if you have ever had an ankle injury (sprain/fracture). In this case, you could need orthotics to correct your body’s natural tendency to favor the stronger side.
If you think about all your weight being distributed daily through your little feet, they really need all the support they can get. Orthotics can solve pain issues all the way up to the neck so come in and get your feet assessed and see if you can get some positive changes to your feet!
Author: Lauren Smith, B.Sc.
Toronto Yonge Eglinton Physiotherapy Assistant