Our feet are highly complex structures, with each foot consisting of 26 bones and hundreds of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. Your feet support and balance your body weight, and any alterations in your foot structure and alignment can have poor consequences for other joints in your body and even your overall health. Custom orthotics are prescription medical devices which are worn inside the shoes to correct foot alignment issues which cause biomechanical imbalances during walking, standing, or running. Wearing foot orthotics can also help to relieve foot pain caused by medical conditions including plantar fasciitis, bursitis, diabetes and arthritis.
To create custom orthotics, your health practitioner will take your detailed health history, and also assess your height, weight, activity level and any medical conditions. Then, the health practitioner will determine whether you can benefit from custom orthotics, and determine what materials to use for your orthotics, as well as the level of rigidity and flexibility you will need. Then, your health practitioner will take a 3D impression mold of your feet to create an orthotic specifically designed for your feet to address any of the underlying biomechanical issues.
Often, medical practitioners recommend foot orthotics if the foot’s muscles, ligaments, tendons, or bones are not well aligned and are causing foot pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Let’s take a look at some of the important benefits of orthotics for feet and for your overall health.
- Providing support for your feet
Custom orthotics are designed to provide support for the anatomical arches of your feet to give you more stability while you stand and walk. Although over-the-counter shoe inserts can also provide some stability for your foot, they were not designed to conform to any individual foot, and will not provide optimal balance and support over the entire surface of your foot. In contrast, custom orthotics will specifically help to correct misalignments in your problem areas and provide support all along the surface of your feet. Unlike over-the-counter generic insoles, custom orthotics can correct foot abnormalities such as pronation (collapsed arches) and supination (high arches).
- Protecting your joints
When you walk, run or jump and your feet meet the ground, the actual force applied to the joints of your feet, legs and spine is equivalent to several times your weight. Over time, the wear and tear on the body’s joints can cause pain and soreness, especially for individuals who are overweight, often walk on hard surfaces, or have foot problems such as flat feet. However, custom orthotics can help your feet support the force load of your body, distributing the pressure more evenly across the surface of your feet. In addition, custom orthotics can absorb impact to help you stay active throughout the day. Importantly, custom orthotics are also effective when your feet are different from each other, helping to restore balance and preventing alignment-related problems.
- Reducing pain
Misalignments in foot structure caused by conditions such as flat feet, arthritis and plantar fasciitis can cause significant pain in other parts of the body. This happens due to increased strain on the ankles, knees and lower back as the body struggles to adjust its biomechanical balance to compensate for the poor foot alignment. Custom orthotics can help to alleviate pain due to biomechanical misalignments, and help to promote healing without causing unnecessary strain on other joints and parts of the body. Importantly, custom orthotics can protect individuals who have diabetes from developing foot ulcers.
- Enhancing your athletic performance
Custom orthotics can also help you improve your athletic performance. Wearing orthotics specifically designed for your athletic activity can help to reduce the force load of the technical demands of a specific sport, helping you produce more efficient and precise movements. Moreover, custom orthotics can help to distribute your weight more evenly across the surface of the foot, improving your balance. Orthotic devices also provide foot protection, but absorb shock and create better motion control, improve foot and leg movements and even reduce muscle fatigue. For best athletic performance, your athletic custom orthotics should be designed for your specific physical activity.
- Injury prevention
While walking or running, our feet take a pounding, especially for those of us who spend a lot of time on our feet. Fortunately, custom orthotics can help to prevent and treat many types of muscle and bone problems, including injuries to the tendons, muscles and joints, as well as stress fractures. According to scientific research, custom orthotics can help to prevent injury such as medial tibial stress syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and knee pain. According to research findings, foot orthotics reduced the risk of injuries by 28%, and reduced the risk of stress fractures by 41%. In contrast, over-the-counter shock absorbing insoles did not produce similar protective effects.
- Improving your well-being
Improving the balance and alignment of your feet can reduce pressure from other parts of your body and improve your overall health. For instance, if foot, ankle or knee pain is preventing you from being more active or sleeping well at night, custom orthotics can have a positive effect on your whole health.