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Your feet are the foundation for the rest of your body. They do support your entire body weight so taking care of them and making sure they are properly supported is incredibly important to you moving pain-free.
With this in mind, there are a number of reasons why orthotics can be a good idea. The simplest definition of an orthotic is that they provide added support to the foot. They help the foot return to a more normal movement pattern with the ultimate goal of recruiting the right balance of muscles to work in conjunction with each other.
In order to find the right orthotic for you it’s important to understand some key facts. The biomechanics of the foot are complex, before you begin using an orthotic, your proper gait and biomechanical analysis should be done.
Below are some key facts regarding your feet:
1. There are no less than 26 bones in the foot that work with ligaments, muscles, and tendons together to support and balance the weight of the body. This system needs all the support it can get to function properly.
2. The feet act as shock absorbers which can cushion up to one million pounds of pressure during one hour of strenuous exercise.
3. Any presence of foot problems can potentially affect other joints such as the hip, knee, and back, causing undue pain in other areas of the body
4. The right orthotics can reduce pain, provide support, prevent foot deformity, relieve pressure, and overall improve biomechanical function of the body.
There are some situations that require extra foot support. The reasons below are the perfect situations for orthotics.
First and foremost, it’s important to have a thorough assessment to rule out certain issues. When serious issues have been ruled out, orthotics can be beneficial by removing pressure and stress from painful areas.
While orthotics don’t correct a fallen arch, they can reposition structures in the foot to improve biomechanical function and reduce chance of injury.
There a few different conditions that contribute to, and are aggravated by a fallen arch.
Plantar Fasciitis: The plantar fascia connects the heel bone to the toes as well as supports the arch of your foot. If it becomes strained, weak, swollen, or irritated, you get heel pain when you stand or walk.
Hallux Valgus: This situation is commonly referred to as a bunion. It is a a deformity at the base of the big toe in which it deviates or points towards the lesser toes. This causes muscle imbalances within the toe joints. As well the big toe provides significant stability for the foot, so if it’s drifting it can contribute to a fallen arch and less foot stability.
Arthritis: Osteoarthritis occurs from “wear and tear”. It affects the smooth, gliding surface (cartilage) of the joints. As it becomes worn, it can contribute to inflammation and pain. As well the joints can often move more which results in bigger challenges for you to maintain your arch.
If you are spending long periods of time on your feet, you will need extra support because your muscles will fatigue. It’s important to move around and give your feet a break, however in this situation orthotics can be helpful.
If you suffer from diabetes, you have an increased risk of corns and calluses , especially if your foot alignment altered. These corns and calluses and impact your skin integrity, and if left untreated can result in diabetic wounds. Orthotics can be helpful in reducing these key pressure areas of the foot.
Your feet are the foundation for your health. Keeping them healthy is the key to keeping your whole body healthy. If you think you will benefit from orthotics, see your healthcare provider for a full analysis, and begin your journey to better health.