Can Orthotics Help You?
Our feet come in all shapes and sizes, and have different biomechanical properties.
Our feet were designed to accommodate the various types of surfaces we walk upon (soft grass, hard rocks, gravel, etc.), and in our prehistoric past, we spent most of our lives in bare-feet, and our feet changed to accommodate these varied surfaces.
Today, modern society requires us to encase our feet in shoes (standardized to some version of the ideal foot), and it becomes up to our feet to accommodate to unyielding surfaces in these cases!
This often results in a variety of foot problems, some of which can be resolved with proper orthotics! But before you decide on orthotics, you should first determine your foot type, and your personal biomechanical requirements.
Since feet come in all different shapes and sizes, the first step is to determine the type of foot that you have! The Wet Test is a simple test that you can do at home, but it should not be used to replace the advice of a biomechanical specialist.
Wet your feet (after a shower or bath).
Stand on a flat surface that will leave a visible footprint.
See which of the following foot categories your feet fall into!
- Normal Feet: The ideal normal foot is biomechanically efficient, has a normal-sized arch, and leaves an imprint that shows the forefoot and heel connected by a wide band. People with normal feet land on the outside of their heel, roll slightly inwards to absorb shock, and come off on their big toe!
- Flat Feet or Pronation: This type of foot has a very low arch and leaves nearly a complete imprint of the foot.
Some pronation is a normal function of the gait, where the heel and arch roll inward while standing or in motion. However, some individuals have a body architecture that causes the foot to excessively pronate, causing the arch of the foot to collapse and thus compromise the support the arch gives to the legs and knees.
Imbalances caused by pronation also causes the bones of the leg to turn inwards, affecting the curvature of the back and causing lower back pain.
- High Arched Foot or Supination leaves a narrow band connecting the forefront and heel. This indicates an outward roll of the foot when standing or when in motion. Like pronation, a certain amount of supination is necessary, while an excessive amount leads to imbalance, poor shock absorption, over-use injuries and joint pain.
A consequence of supination is that the foot loses its ability to absorb shock sending the shock upwards into the lower and upper leg, increasing the strain on the knee and hip joints.
If you have imbalances in your foot mechanics, it may affect the soft-tissue structures not only in your feet, but extending all the way through your kinetic chain into your ankles, shins, knees, hips, and even your back.
We each have our own body architecture, and sometimes our unique structures move and function in ways that cause imbalances and damage to other parts of our body.
Orthotics are appliances designed to support the body and correct biomechanical imbalances in structure.
You may have used generic foot orthotics and found them to be inefficient in providing support.
In comparison, custom-made foot orthotics (such as the ones that Kinetic Health manufactures) are precision medical devices made specifically to fit your feet and correct your particular alignment problems.
Each year people spend a lot of money on orthotics and don’t get the results they expect. Often this is simply the result of not evaluating your biomechanics properly, of not understanding the true cause of the problem, or determining if an orthotic is even needed!
That is why at Kinetic Health we conduct a thorough, comprehensive biomechanical assessment on each and every patient. It is imperative to get all the biomechanical information possible so that we can design an appliance that is right for you (if it is needed).
There are as many different styles and types of foot orthotics as there are people, so it is essential to have a complete evaluation of your body architecture, biomechanics, and individual needs prior to getting orthotics.
Our custom-made foot orthotics are made to correct an individual’s particular biomechanical imbalances, to alleviate pain, and to avoid injury. For some individuals this means they are designed to rearrange the distribution of pressure on the foot, and in other cases they are made to support and refine the alignment of the bones in the feet and legs.
If you have diabetes or arthritis, orthotics can help by giving extra support and cushioning to your feet, as well as relieving some of the excessive pressure on areas of the feet.
Orthotics are often compared to prescription eye-glasses because, like glasses, they provide support and correction while we use them, but when we remove them, they have not physically changed us.
Orthotics are not like dental braces which completely and permanently change the structure of our body, but rather they are supportive tools that allow us to continue to partake in our normal activities, and are often prescribed to treat and avoid injuries.
If you are a shoe-a-holic, you will know from experience that shoes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Because of this, it is difficult to make an Orthotic that will fit every shoe in your closet. However, orthotics can be designed to fit any style and size of shoe, and can usually be worn with other shoes of similar style.
An exception is wearing Orthotics with sandals, as there is not enough shoe support to hold the orthotics.
Another thing to consider is that when we do different activities, especially sports, we use our foot in different ways which also affects the type of orthotic needed for the particular activity or sport. Using an improper orthotic will decreased the functionality of the device and may encourage injury.
We use orthotics from Kintec Labs. Kintec fabricates Custom-Casted Orthotics. There are a few reasons we feel this to be of the greatest benefit to your feet, as opposed to “Dynamic Orthotics” or “Computer-Generated Orthotics”.
- Dynamic orthotics are usually made from information produced when you walk across a pressure sensitive pad. Because the images are taken while your feet are in a weight-bearing position (already pronated or supinated), the orthotics built from the image are made to support the compromised position.
- Computer systems map a two-dimensional image of your foot based on where your foot makes contact with a pressure sensitive mat. The computer uses algorithms to best estimate the actual form of your foot, and does not know the actual depth and dimension.
Custom-Casted Orthotics, of the type we use at Kinetic Health, applies a technology that captures an accurate three-dimensional model of your foot. The foot is captured in its neutral position, allowing us to accurately determine the degree of pronation or supination. We send these molds to Kintec Labs, where they locally design and fabricate your specific orthotics. This allows them continued access to your orthotics during fabrication, and allows them to make modifications or adjustments if needed.
If you are a marathoner that trains 80-100 miles per week, your orthotics will wear out much sooner than a person that works in retail and exercises occasionally. Orthotics wear out at a rate that depends on the patient’s weight and activity, but the average life span is between 3-5 years.
If you think your orthotics are worn out, make an appointment and we will evaluate your gait with the orthotics to see if it is time for a new one.
Insurance companies cover foot orthotics, but level of services may vary. Many insurance plans cover foot orthotics 80 – 100% depending on the plan.
We encourage patients to contact their insurance company to determine what type of coverage is provided for prescription footwear and foot orthotics.