Feet Still Sore? You’ll be Surprised When You Read This About Orthotics!

Don’t drop your monocle when you read this but it’s time for straight talk about orthotics.

Everyone sells orthotics these days -the Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker – did I leave anyone out? Oh yah…the guy in the kiosk at the Home Show.

There are reasons for this ridiculous industry misstep but that would be a longwinded read. I’d rather equip the consumer with the self-assessment tools to help determine if you have the real deal or a sham.

For people who need foot orthoses (“orthotics”) to control a biomechanical condition of the lower limb, there are two major goals. First, the orthotic must control the passage of body weight through each foot, with each step. Secondly it must start as soon as possible to control that weight.

Here are two simple tests to determine if your orthoses are really custom-made.

a. Compression Test – Take one of your orthotics and place it on a tabletop. Press into the peak of the arch, trying to Orthotics Compression Testimagine the force that standing on it would exert. Does it flex at all? Does the arch easily deform?

In order to control the passage of body weight through the foot as we walk, orthoses must closely match body weight. If they’re too hard, they hurt the arch, and if they’re too soft they don’t hold your arch up.

b. Arch Matching – Sit in a chair and gently rest your foot on your orthotic. Does it touch your entire arch?

In order for an orthotic to start as soon as possible in the gait cycle to control your biomechanics, it must fully contact the arch at the highest natural position.

Bad OrthoticsNot Good: Leaves a cavernous gap between the arch and orthotic Good OrthoticsGood: Fits the arch like a glove
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Using computer modeling, researchers determined that full-contact orthotic design makes a 44% improvement in decreasing heel pressure when compared to a standard. They suggested that this design feature was necessary to treat the most common foot condition, plantar fasciitis (heel pain).

Foot orthoses are an excellent therapy when made properly and for the right individual. Unfortunately, not all of them are made according to scientific guidelines and can fail to improve the condition, which caused the person to seek help in the first place. Make sure yours are truly custom-made in order to maximize the therapeutic benefit.

Forget the “free shoes” and “2-for-1” deals. Those are just “shiny objects” to keep you distracted while you’re slipped a faux orthotic.

 

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