Foot Orthotics: Helpful, Hindrance, or Crutch?

I am constantly surprised by how much controversy there is about the usefulness of foot orthotics. However, it is not without a healthy amount of skepticism. There are so many medical advances and people constantly trying to sell you something that the patient can feel more like a customer. We welcome the skepticism as the medical technologies that a pedorthist can provide often speak for themselves.

Why Foot Orthotics? What can they do for me?

Throughout life, your feet develop and can often times become unbalanced. Whether you have severe acute injuries such as breaks, fractures, or ruptures, or you have chronic stress injuries from walking on concrete floors or standing for 12-hours per day, your feet can change dramatically over the course of your lifetime. We often keep our feet in flat shoes and stand on flat surfaces, which both contribute to the gradual collapse of our arches. There are good shoes with good factory liners, but this support is usually not enough, and is typically made of soft materials that breaks down over time.

Custom foot orthotics should be a serious consideration if you experience any of the following:

  • Chronic foot pain,
  • Plantar fasciitis,
  • Pes planus (flat feet),
  • Ankle, knee, hip, or back pain,
  • Arthritis,
  • Hammer toes,
  • Bunions.

Not All Foot Orthotics are Created Equal

People often do not discriminate between ready-made and custom-made foot orthotics. You might have a friend or family member say “Just get a pair of drug store inserts,” or “I think you just need a simple arch support.” Unfortunately, there’s nothing simple about it. While there is convenience to buying something off-the-shelf, chances are, it is rarely what you actually need. Also, your foot health is an important journey, and it is worth embarking on it with someone who knows what they are talking about and can guide you in the right direction.

The person to help you find the right foot orthotics and to give you all the foot health know-how is a Canadian Certified Pedorthist. Pedorthists are medical practitioners trained in dispensing custom foot orthotics, and most tend to manufacture the orthotics as well. When you come to our clinic, our Pedorthists will take a detailed medical history from you, they will then perform a biomechanical assessment, a gait analysis, and eventually take a foam impression of your foot. This impression is used to create a cast model of your foot.

Using all of this information, we then work with our technicians to begin creating your custom foot orthotic. Whether you need a softer pad for metatarsalgia, a bar to prevent your toes from curling, a strong arch support, an angled heel raise, or almost anything imaginable – we can do it. Choosing a Pedorthist and an accredited facility with a good track record is an excellent first step in your foot health journey, and will go leaps-and-bounds ahead of anything you can buy off-the-shelf.

 

 

 

Many people, especially runners and physically active people feel that these devices are a crutch and weaken muscles or create dependency. Since running shoe manufacturers make shoes for all purposes, many feel that matching the shoe to body, foot type or running style should be the best method. This is a fine approach but mismatching the shoe and foot can lead to more serious problems. Keep in mind that muscle strength and muscle balance are very different issues. Asymmetry is the most common cause of muscle imbalance, acquired disability and mechanical pain. Conditioning can make you more resistant to injury but strengthening muscles around a poorly aligned joint doesn’t always improve its alignment. If you experience acute, episodic, or chronic joint or muscle pain you should talk to your physician about it.

More questions than answers? You can get more information on orthotics, footwear and pedorthic services at Thera-Ped Foot and Ankle Clinic by calling (506) 632-9397, or book an appointment today with our Canadian Certified Pedorthists.

Posted in , , , on September 4, 2023