Functional orthotics are custom-made medical appliances
that are worn in your shoes to correct your specific postural imbalances.
A plaster cast of the feet is taken non-weight bearing so the foot is
held in what we call neutral, which means it is neither pronated nor
Orthotics can help relieve pain and/or discomfort experienced in
your feet, knees, hips or back, which may be caused by poor foot function,
postural imbalances and poor alignment. Orthotics will realign and/or
stabilise the bones in your feet, and in turn restore the body’s
natural walking pattern.
Orhotics have a variety of benefits they control and/or correct abnormalities
in walking patterns, reduce the risk of injury, improve proprioception,
allow for fine tuning for the competitive athlete, provide cushioning
and shock absorption for the person who stands all day. They aid the
older patient who requires stability, support and comfort and improve
quality of life. Help patients with back, hip, knee and foot problems
that result from faulty biomechanics and can prevent many common foot
complications that could often require surgery.
An analogy can be made between orthotics and eyeglasses. Both adjust
bodily imperfections that inhibit people from functioning at their
maximum physical potential. Almost anyone can achieve some benefit
from an orthotic. There are several common symptoms that may indicate
misalignment of the feet. We live in a flat world made mainly of concrete
under foot, which has a high energy return. This can create a negative
shock wave, which passes up through the body affecting various joints,
especially the back. Orthotics help to prevent this making our lives
much comfortable on a daily basis.
Why do I need them?
Your biomechanics specialist has determined that your foot and leg
function may be improved and pain may be reduced by using an orthotic.
By reducing excessive motion and encouraging your foot to move in
the right direction at the right time, orthotics allow the bones and
muscles of your feet, legs, pelvis and back to function correctly,
thus reducing excessive stress and strain.
Why haven’t I needed them before?
Our feet were designed for walking on uneven ground of varying densities
(grass, mud etc.). It is rare for anyone to have perfect foot function
and walking on hard flat surfaces aggravates any abnormal function.
Increased levels of activity or reduced function with age can all
contribute to the onset of symptoms. The average person takes 5,000
to 18,000 steps per day (2,500-9,000 per foot). It only takes a small
level of stress, repeated thousands of times a day, to either cause
or aggravate injury.
Can I be certain they will get rid of my problem?
Much like most treatments, no guarantee can be given. However, your
specialist has performed a detailed biomechanical assessment to try
and determine the potential benefit of orthotics. These should form
part of a wider treatment plan, with many patients needing a combination
of interventions that regularly include footwear changes, stretching
and strengthening exercises. Orthotics form part of this process but
cannot cure everything. If you still have symptoms, further investigations,
injections or even surgery may be required to resolve your problem.
Many people develop injuries and the underlying foot and leg function
prevent the injury from healing. Orthotics can help to reduce stress
to the injured area and allow it to heal. As long as appropriate strength
and flexibility are restored, you may be able to walk or exercise
without your orthotics. However, if the problem returns, this is probably
an indication that you need to use orthotics for this level of activity.
Will I need to have an orthotic for every pair of shoes?
Custom made functional orthotics are made to the foot not the shoe
and are therefore transferable from shoe to shoe. However, the orthotic
requires a shoe of sufficient length and fit, preferably with a fastening
to hold the orthotic in position and to allow it to function correctly.
It depends on the shoes. Many slip on shoes have to be tight in order
to stay on the foot. Therefore, when an orthotic is placed in the
shoe, the shoe either becomes too tight or the heel slips out of the
back of the shoe. Whilst slimmer versions can be made, this reduces
the support of the orthotic and therefore the potential benefit. Usually,
in order to try and resolve the problem, your specialist will advise
you which type of shoe you should be using. This is often a wider
style and fit with a lace or adjustable strap to hold your foot in
position. Whilst this may not be your preference, this is probably
what is required to help you get over your problem and potentially
return to wearing the shoes you prefer.
I only have a problem during sport; do I need them for everyday?
The orthotic is changing the way in which you foot functions, it takes
time for your body to adapt. If you simply wore the orthotic for sport,
your body would have to adapt each time you played. This can cause
discomfort, which is incorrectly blamed on the orthotic.
As our knowledge of body function has improved, it has become apparent
that poor position (posture) and muscular control of the pelvis and
spine can affect the way in which the legs and feet function and vice
versa. In many cases, it is a combination of postural and foot related
problems. Our assessment includes an evaluation as to which aspect
is the source of the primary problem. If necessary, we can utilise
sophisticated computerised gait analysis to help determine the source
of the problem. In some instances, orthotics can be used to help improve
your overall function and posture whilst you are performing your stability
exercises. When appropriate strength and stability have been achieved,
you may be able to dispense with the orthotics. However, if symptoms
return and you have continued your exercises, this probably means
that you need to continue using the orthotics.
In some instances, the degree of control needs to be increased over
a period of time or adapted as your posture and mechanics alter. Following
the initial assessment a follow up appointment at six months is recommended,
and then a yearly review may be of benefit as it is more likely that
function has been affected by altered strength and flexibility and
this can be addressed.
What happens at the end of the biomechanical assessment?
You will be given a written report in an A4 folder full of other information
to help you succeed. Then a non-weight bearing plaster of paris cast
is made of your feet, this is what the manufacturer uses to make your
orthoses in the laboratory. All of the Solent Podiatry orthotics are
manufactured combining the use of the most traditional and latest
techniques in cast preparation and orthotic construction. These special
one off orthotics go inside your daily and sports footwear, they helps
to cure your injury by correcting any biomechanical dysfunction and
making you as efficient as possible. They can last as long as ten
years if looked after. You are given thorough instructions with orthoses
on how to use them in the first few days as you adapt to them. You
will be contacted by telephone 10 days after to see how you are progressing.
We then write to you after six months and a year to advise you to
have a short a review. This allows both the patient and practitioner
to make sure that you’re set perfectly for the rest of your
life, providing comfort and efficiency.