A quick guide to Orthotics
What are Orthotics?
Whilst they may look similar to ‘arch supports’, orthotics are special footwear inserts that are individually designed and manufactured to ease your pain and discomfort. Following an assessment by a qualified practitioner, your orthotics will be made to reposition the foot structure to achieve optimum skeletal balance, thereby reducing the stress and pain on the joints that are causing you discomfort.
Orthotics vary in the material they are made from, some being more flexible than others. They also vary in shape and angle, therefore adapting the effect they have on the foot. Orthotics should be customised or individualised to each client’s foot structure and functional to your specific needs. The orthotics prescribed for a rugby player for instance, will be very different to those prescribed for a flight attendant.
How do Orthotics work?
As your foot sits comfortably on the orthotics, it is gently and consistently directed into the optimum position allowing the foot to function correctly when walking, running and standing. With Pat’s help and some orthotics, pressure points, improper rotations of the feet and painful muscle strains are eliminated as your feet are functioning correctly. In fact once you start wearing them, you’ll find them so comfortable that you will wonder how you ever managed without them!
How long will I have to wear my orthotics?
There is really no answer to this question. You see, orthotics do not cure your foot problem. They work on the same principle as glasses; an optician may prescribe glasses for you, but they will not cure your vision problems. Instead, orthotics simply modify the function of your foot as you continue to wear them, in other words, you will need to wear orthotics as long as you want to avoid discomfort.
Benefits of Orthotics
Foot orthotics allow the muscles, tendons and bones of the feet and lower legs to function at their highest potential. When appropriately prescribed, orthotics can decrease pain, not only in the foot, but in other parts of the body such as the knee, hip and lower back. They can also increase stability in an unstable joint, prevent a deformed foot from developing additional problems, and improve overall quality of life.
Orthotics are prescribed to:
- Reduce the symptoms associated with many foot related
- Provide support
- Accommodate foot deformity
- Provide better positioning
- Relieve pressure on specific areas of the foot
- Improve the overall biomechanical function of the foot and lower extremities
Who Can Benefit from Orthotics?
Those who may benefit from orthotics include people who must walk or stand excessively whilst at work or during everyday life, examples include;
Those who are active in sports, orthotics will often increase endurance, performance and strength.
Overweight individuals, orthotics can help to counteract the extra stress on the feet, as minor problems are often magnified due to the increased weight.
Orthotics may be prescribed to relieve foot fatigue and discomfort experienced by older adults, who may have developed arthritis in their feet.
Orthotics may also be prescribed for children who have a foot deformity or have developed growing pains or sore heels. Perhaps parents may have noticed their child has an abnormal gait and abnormal wear on the soles of their shoes.
In athletic individuals, sports activities result in a great deal of movement and pressure on the foot. The resulting imbalances in the foot that are not harmful or even detectable under usual circumstances may make you more vulnerable to injury due to the extra stress. By eliminating the need for one’s muscles to compensate for imperceptible imbalances, orthotics can reduce fatigue and promote efficient muscle function to enhance performance. With enough functional correction, the foot structure can be aligned to give more propulsion, making walking, running and cycling more mechanically efficient.
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