A recent study has shown that the use of foot orthotics, along with knee strengthening exercises, helps resolve knee pain better than simply doing the knee strengthening exercises alone.
Specializing in biomechanical treatments, this does not surprise me. This is since, essentially, all of us pronate and supinate when we walk and run. Doing so, twists the leg in and then out respectively.
When we land on our foot, we pronate which will twist the leg inward. This pronation is then reversed by supinating for push off and propulsion which causes the leg to twist outward.
Knee pain can occur from the thigh bone (femur) trying to twist outward while the foot is causing the leg to twist inward. This torques on the structures about the knee. Many patients I see have biomechanical faults of the feet which will try to pronate them instead of supinating at specific times of gait. The functional orthoses we fabricate help realign the feet 3 dimensionally, such that the leg rotation matches the thigh rotation.
Certainly, strengthening the muscles about the knee will assist in strengthened alignment. However, this study shows with the orthotic use, one will achieve improved alignment of the feet. Again, this assists in normal inward/outward rotation of the leg to better match the rotation of the thigh, thus reducing strain at the knee.
We are essentially a walking/running robot. All parts should be pronating, supinating, twisting, bending, etc. at the exact moment the surrounding parts are moving. If not, something will eventually break.
David J. Sables, D.P.M., C.Ped