A semi-custom orthotic being fitted professionally
What do Foot Orthotics do?
Foot Orthotics correct an abnormal, or irregular, walking pattern. They perform functions that make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient, by altering slightly the angles at which the foot strikes a walking or running surface.
They are known to solve a number of biomechanically related problems, not only for obvious foot problems but also for ankle and knee pain, pelvis, hip, spinal pain and even headaches. This is achieved by preventing misalignment of the foot which can significantly alter the way in which the bones move within their joints.
Foot Orthotics are often used to correct problems such as:
- Structural abnormalities
- Patellar tendonitis
- General knee pain
- Ankle instability
What is pronation?
Inward ankle tilt, known as 'pronation - see above' can cause the bones beneath the ankle to shift out of place and thus, lead to a considerable alteration to the way the joint operates. Outward ankle tilt, though less common still occurs in some indivduals in the reverse of the above.
This abnormal joint movement in the feet and ankle in turn effect the hip joint and the curvature of the spine. This generally leads to back pain and increased pressure on the hips and pelvis.
Types of Foot Orthotics:
Foot Orthotics take various forms and are constructed of various materials. All are concerned with improving foot function and minimizing stress forces that could ultimately cause foot deformity and pain.
While varying in design all orthotic supports are mostly aimed at the mass market, this is fine in many cases but to be fully effective each support should be tailored to the individual.
Foot Orthotics and specialist insoles listed on Foothealthcare.com are designed for mild conditions such as arch, heel and forefoot pain. Where specified, they will provide arch support and basic gait correction and cushioning.
Difference between Foot Orthotics and Insoles:
While definitions vary wildly the key difference between over-the-counter Foot Orthotics and Insoles listed on Foothealthcare.com are as follows:
Provide basic motion control helping prevent in-ward and outward rolling of the foot. They may also provide protection against heel shock or plantar pressures, especially Diabetic Orthotics.
Professionally prescribed or fitted orthotics are recommended when there is severe pain present or when gait control is of impotence to the individual - e.g. athletes, outdoor walkers, golfers etc.
Know generally as 'custom foot orthotics', this type of device is usually made-to-measure by taking a cast of the foot and forming the orthotic over this. The orthotic can be made from foam, plastic, carbon fibre or even hard metals.
Professionally fitted orthotics are available from Podiatrists, Orthotists, Physiotherapists and other associated healthcare professionals.
In the UK, foot orthotics are available on the NHS, dependent on a foot health assessment by qualified podiatrist or orthotist.
Insoles or Shoe Inserts:
Provides the wearer with a replacement insole for most shoes types. Features can vary from general comfort cushioning to basic odour control. Insoles provide minimal motion control and are advised as a general 'shoe upgrade'.
When to see a Foot Health professional or Podiatrist:
When foot pain is severe and constant, it is important that a 'corrective' (not an over-the-counter Orthotic) device is prescribed by a trained clinician. We can advise on your nearest professional. Simply drop us a line or call us for advice.
Wearing your Orthotics or Insoles:
Because each person is unique, so is his or her response to new inserts. As you adjust to this new alignment, you may experience some mild discomfort. If you experience any severe pain or discomfort, remove the insoles from your shoes for at least two to four hours and then try again. If pain persists, stop wearing them and make an appointment to see a foot health professional.
Select good shoes with proper support and always try them on with the insoles in place to ensure proper fit. Suitable fitting and supportive footwear is vital to the function of the insoles and overall comfort.
The best type of shoes to wear with your insoles should have a closed back and toe; come up over the top of the feet like laced-up sport shoes; low heels; a removable liner; and a slightly wider width to accommodate the insoles. Ensure that the insole sits flat in the shoe and is not folded up or creased.
Fitting your Orthotics or Insoles:
Decide if you need to remove the current insole or simply line the new insole on top of the old one. Try placing the new insole on top of the old temporarily and try the shoe on; remove the original insole if the shoe feels too tight with both. Also pull out the old one if it is loose, falling apart or smelly, or if recommended by the manufacturer of the new insole. If the original is glued in and needs to be removed, pull back the toe end and carefully peel out the insole.
Use the original insole as a template to trace and trim the new insole if the new insole doesn't quite fit or curls up a bit. Use a marker to trace and scissors to trim. Take off only the necessary amount, as you want a snug fit.
It is not necessary to glue the replacement insole, but if desired, apply a thin, even coat of shoe glue or bicycle tube repair glue to the bottom of the insoles. Do not glue all the way to the edges. Leave about an inch of space. Put the insoles in place and smooth down with your hands while applying light pressure.
Care for your Orthotics or Insoles:
Clean your insoles at least once per fortnight to reduce bacterial growth using a damp soapy cloth and allow to dry naturally in the air.
During the night, remove your insoles from the shoes to allow a natural drying process.