What is an Orthotic?

An ORTHOTIC is a foot-supporting device also known as a custom insole. Foot Orthotics support, correct and accommodate the 26 bones, 2 sesamoid bones, tendons, ligaments, and plantar fascia band in each foot. 

Foot Orthotics allow the muscles, tendons and bones of the feet  through open and closed chain joint migration, up through the legs, hip and lower back, to function at their optimal potential for our body weight, structure, walking pattern and life styles. 

When appropriately prescribed and more importantly, appropriately manufactured, Foot Orthotics can decrease pain and discomfort in the foot, ankles, knees, hips and back. Foot Orthotics increase our stability, prevent further progression of bony deformities, soft tissue pain, burning and numbness and help to improve our overall quality of life in our activities of daily living (ADLs).

Remember, foot pain is not normal and should not be ignored. The pain in our feet often is associated with other pains in our lower limbs all due to the poor inherent biomechanics of our foot.

With a foot orthotic supporting the three main arches of the foot the muscles and tendons are able to work within their intended range of motions (ROMs) and we do not run the risk of causing injury or furthering one.
 

Benefits of Orthotics

Custom Foot Orthotics help in providing relief for painful foot problems or an injury, especially for those who must walk, or stand excessively on the job or in every day activities.

The mechanical properties  of the Custom Foot Orthotic help to maintain the normal positioning of the bones in the foot, the joints in the ankle and knees leading up to the hips and lower back. The muscles and ligaments holding these bones in their intended anatomical positions are prevented from over stretching and becoming lax over time.

With enough functional correction from a Custom Foot Orthotic, the foot structure can be aligned to give more propulsion, making walking, running and even cycling more efficient biomechanically.

Along with aligning the foot structure, the Custom Foot Orthotic reduces muscular fatigue and helps to promote more efficient muscle performance thus enhancing performance during the gait cycle.

Below is an example of a foot without the corrective support of an orthotic and then another example of the same foot with a Custom Made Foot Orthotic from POL correcting and supporting the foot. Notice the difference a well made Custom Foot Orthotic makes!

 

The Structure and Function of an Orthotic

Foot Orthotics are constructed from various materials consisting of plastics, foam, rubbers, and cork composites that are utilized for their mechanical properties.

The main similarity of all Foot Orthotics is the principle of their structure. The core is comprised of a plastic material more commonly referred to as the shell. External support structures on the underside of the shell material are utilized for balance and support inside the footwear; these are commonly referred to as extrinsic posts. Soft padding is placed on the underside and the topside to absorb compression forces when walking and running, this includes the top covers, underlay materials and arch fills.
All of these materials have the goal of improving foot function and minimizing the stress forces that cause foot deformity and pain.

Dependent on the reason for the prescription of Foot Orthotics, all of the above mentioned materials can be utilized in many combinations to achieve three broad categories of Foot Orthotics:

  1. Those that primarily attempt to change foot function, known as functional Foot Orthotics
  2. Those that are mainly protective or accommodative in nature, and
  3. Those that combine functional control with accommodation for comfort.
 
 

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Choosing shoes for your children can play a critical role in their musculoskeletal development, including their posture.

In general, infants just learning to walk do not need shoes. Infants may go barefooted indoors, or wear only a pair of socks. This helps the foot grow normally and develop its muscles and strength as well as encourages the grasping ability of toes.

Once children are ready to walk as toddlers, their need for properly-fitted shoes is important. In general, a soft, pliable, roomy shoe, such as a sneaker, is ideal for all children. The toe box should provide enough space for growth and should be wide enough to allow the toes to wiggle. A finger's breadth of extra length will usually allow for about three to six months' worth of growth, though this can vary depending on your child's age and rate of growth.

Because high-top shoes tie above the ankle, they are recommended for younger children who may have trouble keeping their shoes on. Contrary to common belief, however, high-top shoes offer no advantages in terms of foot or ankle support over their low-cut counterparts.

Here are some tips when purchasing shoes for children:

  • Both feet should be measured every time you shop for new shoes since those little feet are growing. If, as is common, the feet are two different sizes, shoes should be fitted to the larger foot.
  • The child's foot should be sized while he or she is standing up with full weight-bearing.
  • There should be about one-half inch of space (or a thumb's width) between the tip of the toes and the end of the shoe. The child should be able to comfortably wiggle his or her toes in the shoe.
  • Have the child walk around the store for more than just a few minutes wearing the shoe with a normal sock. Ask the child if he or she feels any pressure spots in the shoe. Look for signs of irritation on the foot after the shoe is tested.
  • Put your hand inside the shoe and feel around for any staples or irregularities in the glue that could cause irritation. Examine where the inside stitching hits the foot.
  • Examine the shoe itself. It should have a firm heel counter (stiff material on either side of the heel), adequate cushioning of the insole, and a built-in arch. It should be flexible enough to bend where the foot bends at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the shoe.
  • Never try to force your child's feet to fit a pair of shoes.
  • Shoes should not slip off at the heels. Children who have a tendency to sprain their ankles will do better with high-top shoes or boots.

Children who frequently remove shoes from their feet may be signaling some discomfort. Check your child's feet periodically for signs of too-tight shoes, such as redness, calluses or blisters, which will help you know when they've outgrown their shoes.

Remember that the primary purpose of shoes is to prevent injury. Shoes seldom correct children's foot deformities or change a foot's growth pattern. Casting, bracing, or surgery may be needed if a serious deformity is present. If you notice a problem, please contact our office to have your child's feet examined.


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