Do I Need Orthotics?

by David J. Sables, D.P.M., C.Ped.*
BETTER TO ASK, WILL ORTHOTICS HELP MY PERFORMANCE, PREVENT INJURY, RELIEVE PAIN…
And the answer is yes to the latter 3 questions.
Orthotics have been a proven aid in the treatment and prevention of foot related ankle, leg and back problems.  They also can enhance performance in standing, walking and running.
Some studies are indicating that up to 75% of the population exhibit some minor to major foot or leg mal alignment syndrome.  This can lead to abnormal stress, strain and torque moments on your bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.  This can lead to PAIN as well as arthritis. A true prescription custom molded orthotic fabricated from a positive cast model will assist realignment of the body such that it can optimally perform.  That is, when the feet are ideally aligned, the multiple bones, joints, tendons and muscles can work with each other instead of against each other.
A common misconception is, orthotics are arch supports.  Actually, they do much more than support.  What a true 3 dimensional orthotic does is bring the floor up to your foot assisting position so that your feet can unlock and  lock (pronate and supinate) at their normal times during gait.
Many of the off the shelf orthotics can help, but they have many limitations.  What they are analogous to is an over the counter pair of glasses.  If they are in the right direction of correction, they may feel ok but they certainly are not truly totally corrective.  In fact, they, off the shelf orthotics, can sometimes cause a problem as they are a simple guess at the ideal alignment of your feet.
Moreover, don’t be fooled into buying an off the shelf orthotic because someone told you they helped them out.  What they are recommending is analogous to purchasing an over the counter or prescriptive pair of glasses that worked for them.  Obviously, it would be a gamble.  This includes shoe recommendations as well.
What you truly need is a shoe ideally fit with specific features assisting your specific foot type and prescriptive orthotic combinations to “House Your Feet.”  This will give you optimal alignment, support and performance leading to longer healthier feet.
*Board Certified in Foot & Ankle Orthopedics, Board Certified in Foot Surgery, Board Certified Pedorthist

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