Orthotics also known as insoles , orthoses or shoe inserts , are designed to correct foot posture and abnormal or irregular walking patterns. They are not just 'arch supports' , although this term is often used to describe them. They perform functions that make your everyday activities more comfortable and efficient, by altering the angles at which the feet strike the ground when standing, walking, jogging, running and jumping. You don't have to have pain in your feet to benefit from orthotics. Wearing orthotics could help you improve your athletic performance by improving your mechanical advantage throughout the kinematic chain.
What Are Orthotics?
Orthotics are shaped insoles placed inside shoes with the purpose of restoring natural foot movement . This is necessary when the natural balance of our lower body has been disrupted by, for instance, over-pronation . Many common complaints such as heel pain , knee pain and lower back pain can be caused by poor foot mechanics .
Why Should I See a Chiropractor For Orthotics?
Traditionally most people would go to a podiatrist or chiropodist to have orthotics fitted. So, why should I see a Chiropractor for Orthotics? We are trained in fitting custom orthotics and can determine if you require orthotics. Chiropractors treat the whole body and can determine how the use of orthotics can complement our treatment for, for example, a back , hip , knee or ankle problem. We also use specific mobilization and manipulation techniques to the feet to ensure that areas of restricted movement are released , which will have an effect on how your feet are functioning and will help your problem resolve better . It doesn't make sense to just put an orthotic in a shoe without both using manipulation to clear the restrictions in your foot and give specific exercises to strengthen the supportive musculature . For example, if you came to us complaining of back pain , we would not just give you a back support belt and leave you to it. We would combine manipulation and exercise in order to try and restore you back to full and normal function and give you an exercise program to strengthen the supportive core musculature. We apply the same principle to all muscle- and joint problems, which works really well.
So why use orthotics at all?
Why not just use manipulation and exercise? Well, we do. When it is appropriate. Not all people need orthotics. But if the ligaments and muscles are not strong enough to support the foot to prevent further injury when you are weight bearing, then you need a support for the foot.
In the same way, we would give you a back support belt if your back is so unstable that you regularly injure it doing basic activities, or to use when you do things that are more demanding for your back.
Custom orthotics are inserts that are specially molded to your feet. The best orthotic is one designed around your feet and how they move. This is best done in the clinic with the treating chiropractor who can customize your orthotics.
Why Do We Need Customised Orthotics?
Customized orthotic insoles are shaped to accommodate and align your feet and to correct and realign your foot and anklebones to their neutral position, restoring natural foot function. Off-the-peg orthotics are set to an average foot, which might be OK for some people. But for the best results we recommend to have your orthotics customized. For many of our patients we fit the ICB orthotic as it is ‘out of the box’ to allow their feet to get used to the new position and then, at a later date, customize them. Because of the superior design of the ICB orthotics it is not surprising that many people find them better than other orthotics even without the customization. The customization process is relatively quick and easy with ICB orthotics and that is why we can keep the cost down to a minimum. We think you will find that the Your Charleston Health customization of your orthotics is good value for money.
Who Needs Orthotics?
The need to use an orthotic is based on your foot posture and how your feet move. Imbalances can occur from flat feet or even one foot being flatter than the other. Problems are rarely symmetrical. People who stand or walk all day will benefit from orthotics. If you suffer from pain during any form of sport or exercise then orthotics can reduce the pain associated with your condition. For overweight individuals, orthotics will help to counteract the extra stress being placed on the feet.
You can do a quick assessment yourself following this list:
- Do you have pain?
- Are your feet symmetrical?
- Do you have a lump at the base of your big toe (bunions)?
- Does it look as if you have flat feet?
We will check your foot posture, using certain tests and using motion palpation (check how the individual bones in your feet move) in order to determine if orthotics would be a solution to your problem.
Are Orthotics for me?
Biomechanical problems affecting the feet can increase stresses within the foot structures and the surrounding soft tissues, creating localized pain in the feet and ankles as well as problems in the lower limbs, knees, hips and back. Orthotics allow joints to be aligned correctly and promote efficient transmission of the forces of standing, walking, jogging, running and jumping.
And as a result a foot orthotic therefore helps to:
- Reduce pain
- Provide support
- Prevent or halt the development of foot deformity
- Provide better positioning
- Relieve pressure on a certain area of the foot
- Improve the overall biomechanical function of the foot
- Improve pelvic alignment
- Reduce lower limb torsion and stress on the knees
At Your Charleston Health we have a holistic approach to any biomechanical problem. We understand that the problem may not always be located around the area of the body where you have pain. In some cases the problem may lie in a number of areas, such as pelvic dysfunction, leg length discrepancies, tight or poorly toned muscles as well as poor posture. We can use foot orthotics to improve posture and accommodate for leg length discrepancy. If we do not find that your problem is caused by your foot position or poor biomechanics, we will not prescribe foot orthotics.
Can I Wear Orthotics During All Daily Activities?
Yes you can, but it is important that you gradually build-up the time using orthotics. Your feet need time to adjust to their new correct biomechanical position. Orthotics must be gradually used to begin with. During the first 48 hours, use the orthotics for approximately 3-4 hours. After this period of time it is recommended you use the orthotics for 6-8 hours. In the second week of use the orthotics can be worn all day.
What Specific Conditions May Be Helped?
Correction of poor foot biomechanics with orthotics can improve and prevent many types of pain conditions and symptoms such as: Achilles tendinitis, metatarsalgia (pain in the ball of the foot), sesamoiditis, toe pain, ankle pain, tibialis dysfunction, impingement syndrome, plantar fasciitis, neuroma, tendinitis, policeman’s heel, heel spur, pronation, bunions, shin pain (compartment syndrome, shin splints), knee pain (chondromalacia patellae, patello-femoral syndrome).