Custom Foot Orthotics
Custom foot orthotics are commonly used to control abnormal foot mechanics, aid with injury recovery and provide relief from painful foot pathologies. A frequent fear among first time foot orthotic users is the development of a long-term dependence upon the orthotic for comfort and injury-free activity. It’s a reasonable concern, but depending on the reason for the orthotics this may or may not be true.
If the orthotics are required because of an acute injury, such as heel pain, forefoot pain or an ankle injury, they can typically be used as a tool to aid with recovery and then you can wean off of them once discomfort or inability has resolved.
If the orthotics are needed because of a systemic disease or long-term pathology such as arthritis, diabetes or some movement disorders, the custom foot orthotics are typically a long-term solution used to improve quality of life and daily comfort.
In both cases, the orthotics are used to provide passive support for the foot in order to redistribute pressure and to reduce or realign joints forces, muscular activity and soft tissue strain.
The Physical Therapy Element
While foot orthotics are used as a form of passive support, physical therapy is commonly used as a form of active support by improving muscular strength, flexibility and endurance, and to recover from various injuries. With this in mind, foot care professionals commonly work along side physiotherapists to improve factors such as balance, lower limb flexibility and lower limb strength.
Go Inside the Foot
Until recently, however, little focus has been placed on the muscles inside the foot. Strengthening the muscles inside the foot may provide a form of internal support, potentially reducing occurrence of injury. If the foot is more prepared to support the weight of the body and to respond to the various daily activities it undertakes, it seems fairly intuitive that this may result in reduced injury rates and a better environment for injury recovery. Fortunately, there is some recent research to support this notion!