About Foot Orthotics
"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and
a work of art."
- Leonardo Da Vinci (1452-1519)
- The average person takes approximately 8,000 to 10,000 steps a day. That adds up to 150,000 miles in an average lifetime, which is more than four times the circumference of the globe.
- While running, the impact forces on the feet during each step can be up to nine times a person's body weight! Even walking produces pressures of up to twice the body weight.
- Women experience four times as many foot problems as men because of their common use of high heels and/or pointed shoes.
Your Feet: An engineering marvel
It may seem surprising that 25% of the bones in your body are in your feet. (There are fifty-two bones in the feet, to be exact.) And when in perfect alignment, these intricate, compact bones easily support the entire body weight for hours every day, with little effect from the huge impact forces they must absorb with every step. However, research has shown that 60-70% of people have some degree of abnormal foot function.
When Problems Occur
Abnormal foot function, as seen with 'flat feet' or 'fallen arches', can develop in a number of ways, but most commonly results from improper footwear or an inherent weakness in the structure of the feet.
A small abnormality in foot function or alignment (see Image A and B above) can have a large impact on the joints higher up in the body. Poor foot function causes subtle changes in your gait pattern (the way you walk), which places greater strain on the foot and weight-bearing joints. This strain is multiplied many times over while walking, and can gradually lead to foot and lower limb problems, as well as knee, hip or low back pain.
In many cases, custom-made insoles (called 'orthotics') can be prescribed
to help reduce abnormal foot motion while walking. Orthotics fit inside shoes
like ordinary insoles, and realign your feet to a more normal or "neutral"
position. Orthotics help to eliminate or reduce foot, back and leg pain by
improving function and efficiency.
How do Prescription Orthotics Work?
Normal vs. Abnormal Foot Function
From the moment the heel strikes the ground to the point when the toes lift off, normally functioning feet support and distribute the weight of the body evenly on the feet, and in doing so, keep the legs in proper alignment while walking.
Although some degree of pronation (foot rolling inwards) and supination (foot rolling outwards) is normal while walking, it is excessive pronation (over-pronation) and over-supination that often presents a problem.
- If you over-pronate (see 'Image C' above), orthotics prevent the foot from excessively rolling inwards while walking, thus providing a more stable foot position for normal weight bearing and efficient forward propulsion.
- If you over-supinate (see 'Image D' above), the foot tends to be more rigid, providing little shock absorption. In these cases, orthotics help to absorb the shock and impact forces of walking by spreading pressure more evenly across the feet.
Custom-made orthotics re-align the foot and provide the support required to keep the feet functioning efficiently.
Advanced Chiropractic uses the advanced technology of GaitScanTM to assess foot function and gait mechanics (the way you walk). The GaitScanTM system utilizes a pressure plate linked to a computer which digitally scans the feet while you walk to provide a detailed analysis of your foot and gait pattern, and helps detect any unusual pressure points or signs of abnormal foot function. This technology enhances traditional foot assessment methods by providing a more detailed understanding of your feet and any foot-related problems, while also helping to determine your need for orthotic therapy.
Common Signs of Abnormal Foot Function:
- Uneven or unusual wear patterns on the soles of shoes.
- Knee, hip or ankle pain that gradually develops over weeks or months.
- Pain or unusual soreness/tiredness of the feet.
- Recurrent back pain.
- Pain in the soles or arches of the feet.
- 'Bunions' (Painful swelling of the first joint of the big toe)
- Calluses on the toes, heels or balls of the feet.
- Repetitive strain injuries of the lower leg (i.e. Achilles Tendonitis, IT Band syndrome, Shin Splints, etc.)
Custom-made orthotics can play an integral role in the overall treatment of many problems caused by ankle and foot dysfunction, and more importantly, prevent re-occurrences.