Custom Foot Orthotics
About Your Feet
There are 28 different bones in the human foot that contribute to the biomechanics of walking and running. People who stand a lot during the day often complain of having tired feet, but these joints in your foot take on the weight of your entire body when you walk and up to five times your body weight when running.
When we walk, our feet go through a repetitive motion where the arch falls or flattens out and then gets elevates and this allows the foot to “lock” and “unlock” when going through the gait cycle. When the arch collapses, the foot “unlocks” and allows us to adapt to uneven terrain like being barefoot in a field. We evolved to have the ability to unlock the foot and allow it adapt to prevent injury. We did not evolve to walk in shoes on hard flat surfaces like cement sidewalks and this can be the source of our foot problems. (Incidentally, cultures where the population does not wear shoes do not have the same foot problems that developed nations do.) When the arch elevates, it “locks” the foot in place to allow us to transmit force more efficiently. When you are walking or running, you need to push off of a stable, rigid surface to propel yourself forward effectively.
The root of most biomechanical foot disorders is that the arch falls too much or over-pronates when the foot is weight-bearing. The vast majority of the population are over-pronators. These problems with the biomechanics of gait can easily be corrected by custom foot orthotics.
What are custom made orthotics?
Orthotics are orthopedic devices that are used to alter or modify foot function and are designed to treat, adjust, and support various biomechanical foot disorders. Custom-made foot orthotics are made for the specific needs of a patient. Custom orthotics are created by placing the foot in a foam cast, which makes an impression of the foot and duplicates any misalignments of the foot’s structure. The finished orthotic is placed in the patient’s shoe to support the foot and eliminate abnormal foot biomechanics by keeping the foot properly aligned while walking or running.
Overpronation or an excess falling of the arch is the cause of most biomechanical gait problems and therefore the main culprit that can lead to foot troubles. A custom foot orthotic stops overpronation by preventing the arch from falling as far as it normally would. Good orthotics make contact with the entire arch and starts to slow it as soon as it starts to fall. Orthotics with a poor design try to catch the arch after it has already started to speed up and they do not prevent pronation as well.
True custom foot orthotics must bend with you as you put weight on them but to be truly custom to you, they must also take into account four things:
- Your Arch: Some people have a large arch and some have a very small arch.
- Your Foot Flexibility: If your foot is more flexible, it needs more support.
- Your Weight: A larger person needs more support for their foot and arch.
- Your Activity: A person who runs or spends more time on their feet during the day needs more support.
WHO SHOULD USE AN ORTHOTIC?
Almost anyone, from children to adults, can benefit from orthotics, but the question is whether they really need orthotics. Orthotics can alleviate many common foot problems that cause pain and discomfort in otherwise healthy people. An analogy can be made between orthotics and eyeglasses—both devices adjust problems that can impair physical function. In both cases, a physician (e.g., eye doctor or foot care specialist) performs a complete examination and then prescribes the proper amount of correction.
There are several common symptoms that may indicate misalignment of the feet. These signs and symptoms include the following:
- Abnormal shoe wear (e.g., one side of the sole of the shoe wears out faster than the other)
- Chronic arch or heel pain (e.g., Plantar Fasciitis)
- Foot Pain (Metatarsalgia, Hallux Rigidus, Morton’s Neuroma, etc.)
- Knee Pain
- Low Back Pain
- Frequent ankle sprains
- Gait abnormalities (e.g., feet point inward or excessively outward during walking)
- Shin pain (e.g., shin splints)
- Iliotibial Band Syndrome
- Foot pain, hip pain or low back pain due to pregnancy
- Improve sports performance
Here are a couple of things that you can see for yourself:
1. Take your shoes and socks off and sit in a chair. Rest your bare feet on the ground in front of you and notice the contour of the arch of your foot as it rests on the ground. Now stand up and notice how the arch changes its contour. When you are weight-bearing, the arch flattens out. Some people with very flexible feet have large arches while sitting that completely collapse when they are standing. Other people have smaller arches that do not change much when they stand up because their feet are more rigid. Over the counter orthotics do not take these differences into account.
2. Look at the bottom of an older pair of tennis shoes to see the wear pattern. You do not need to know what a normal wear pattern is to see that yours is abnormal. Notice where the shoe has been worn down. In some areas, the tread will have been worn away. Specifically notice the wear pattern around the heel. If you look at the shoes from the back, you can usually see the wear pattern a little better. Make sure you compare your shoes to each other. Your shoes should be mirror images of each other.
If you have any of the problems listed above and you have abnormal wear on your shoes or your arch pronates too much, custom orthotic inserts from Sole Supports are a good treatment option for you.
Call Dr. Bryan D. Royer at 419-517-5055 today to set-up a consultation and examination and have your feet aligned in Harmony.