Our feet were designed to be adaptive to many different surfaces. However, the environment we walk on has been changed by man who has created more stable environments by laying down coverings such as concrete and tarmac. If the surface interface with the foot is too hard, there is no ‘give’. The foot compensates for this attempting to gain contact with the surface and can cause the arch to flatten. This is called pronation and can affect other body structures: the pelvis may tilt, the spine may bend, stresses can occur on the hip or knee.
An orthotic is a conservative approach to prevent a foot problem. It is an in-shoe device used to make the foot more comfortable and improve movement. The orthotic is not solely an arch-support. It is used to support the foot in a more neutral position so that pressure is distributed more evenly across the sole of the foot. Abnormal or irregular walking patterns can be improved and very often leg and back fatigue is reduced. Orthotic devices are used by people of all ages and levels of activity.
How is a custom-orthotic device made?
A plaster-of-paris cast or impression is made of the foot to capture the angular relationships between the rear, mid and forefoot. This is then sent to a laboratory where the technicians will ‘capture’ the best functioning position. The body of the orthotic device is contoured to the cast or impression of the foot. Control can be achieved by the use of heel cups and additional components such as post-controls can be added as required to the front and rear ends of the device.
The orthotic device should fit easily into shoes. They are generally comfortable to wear after a period of adjustment whereby they are worn gradually slowly extending the time until they can be worn all day. This gradual introduction minimises stress to the muscles of the legs and feet as the body accustoms to a slightly different position than it has been used to.
Finally, it must be said that the wearing of orthotics is a commitment in the same way glasses are worn to correct vision. In addition to providing orthotics, personalised stretching programs may be advised.
For further information please contact:
Debra Pauly BSc(Hons)MChS
Chiropodist & Podiatrist
Broadstone Clinic of Natural Healthcare