While orthotics are traditionally designed to help manage injuries to the feet and legs and do so effectively, they are now becoming a commonplace solution in helping general posture and are being distributed by multiple disciplines and retail stores alike. But is there any merit to this practice?
Absolutely – orthotics alter the alignment of the feet and how they move through every step, thereby altering overall posture. However, when looking for orthotics for you posture, you MUST consider the following factors:
1. Not all orthotics are the same.
Unfortunately, the term ‘orthotic’ has come to encompass a wide variety of products, ranging from bulk-made, identical devices you buy in retail stores that don’t take into account the unique biomechanical characteristics of your feet, to custom designed devices that are made specifically for you from a cast of your feet with years of expert experience behind the prescription. It’s like buying a cheap $2.00 pair of glasses and expecting them to give you perfect sight – you’ve got to have the right device from the right professional.
2. You prescription must come from a podiatrist with extensive biomechanical experience.
In order to create the best orthotics for you, you must have a thorough biomechanical assessment where a multitude of factors are assessed including:
• the range of motion available through your joints
• muscle strength and flexibility
• gait (walking) analysis
• foot posture index
• any limb length differences or other discrepancies
These and other tests ensure that if an orthotic can help in your management, the right orthotic will be prescribed that will help and not hinder your well-being. This is why it’s important that your podiatrist specialises in complex biomechanics and can create the right prescription, as different practitioners may specialise in other fields including palliative podiatry and minor surgeries.
3. The body is a complex web of muscles and tissues where one part of the body can greatly affect the other.
To illustrate how your feet may affect your posture, let’s say that you have a very flat foot posture. Thinking about the structure of your bones and joints – when you walk, as your foot rolls down flat, the toes will point outward, the knee on that side rotates inward and the pelvis will tilt, meaning that the opposite shoulder will drop, and your spine won’t be as stable. This can have an impact on the musculature of your back and can result in back pain.
In this case, having orthotics that will support your feet, accurately correct your foot posture and any other biomechanical abnormalities the assessment may show, can alter the position at the ankle, knee, pelvis and shoulder, thereby helping your posture. This can alter the abnormal strain on the musculature of your back and effectively alleviate your back pain.
4. Posture has many elements
Like the last point mentioned, the body is complex and there are many elements to your posture. This doesn’t only include tight muscles that can create abnormal pulling forces but variations in bone shape, bone composition which can be affected by illness and so much more. The best way to know if orthotics can help you specifically is to go and have an assessment from your podiatrist and they can discuss your options from there.
Here at Footcare Specialist Podiatry we love seeing our patients succeed, reach and exceed their goals. We’re passionate about biomechanical podiatry and are committed to providing you with the best care so you can get the best clinical outcomes. We are known for our ethical approach to healthcare and so stand by our guarantee that you will not be charged if we aren’t certain that we can’t help your injury or ailment. Give us a call on 09 214 9585 / 021 1248 684 and experience our excellent clinical care for yourself!