Orthotics Or Not... That is the question...

Also known as orthoses, orthotics, inserts, insoles or footbeds.

Are they good?

Are they bad?

Do you really need them?

Are they worth it in expensive running shoes? 

These questions all depend on the type of foot you have and how that foot distributes force up the legs into the pelvis.  Before we attempt to delve into this, let's go through the 2 different foot types. We will then go through the 4 different foot arches and how they translate into pain or dysfunction.  After briefly explaining this, YOU can answer these questions.

 

 

Orthotics Available at Illawong Osteo

The Pronated (Or Flat) Foot

This is the most common type of foot or arch.  Our arch is designed to adapt to the environment. Our ancestors would hunt, climb, run, walk on alternating terrain.  To adapt to the terrain, we used our arch. It would lift, flatten and so forth depending on the shape of the tree/rock etc that we were climbing.  

Nowadays, we stand in flat shoes, on flat ground and don't hunt for anything. For this reason, a majority of us have flat feet or an over-pronated foot. If this is you, your footprint will be wide and flat. 

Your foot will pronate for a variety of reasons including;

  • a leg that is internally/externally rotated
  • the heel may be unstable as you strike the ground and collapses in
  • you may have tight muscles that are lowering your arch
  • you may have weak muscles that can't hold your arch
  • there may be a nerve issue stopping the muscles from working

Many over-pronaters, if left untreated may experience;

  • overexertion/fatigue/strain of sift tissues
  • increased wear of joint surfaces leading to arthritis
  • pain in other joints of the body (knee, hip, lower back)
  • compensatory movement patterns that may create other issues later on in life
Orthotics Available at Illawong Osteo

The Supinated (Or High Arch) Foot

This is the rarest type of foot or arch.  This is where most supinaters feel that they are walking on the outside of their foot.

Your foot will supinate for the same reasons as an over-pronater including;

  • a leg that is internally/externally rotated
  • the heel may be unstable as you strike the ground and collapses in
  • you may have tight muscles that are lowering your arch
  • you may have weak muscles that can't hold your arch
  • there may be a nerve issue stopping the muscles from working

Many supinaters, if left untreated may experience;

  • overexertion/fatigue/strain of sift tissues
  • increased wear of joint surfaces leading to arthritis
  • pain in other joints of the body (knee, hip, lower back)
  • compensatory movement patterns that may create other issues later on in life

The 3 arches of the foot

Illaowng Osteo Orthotics | Orthotics Illawong Osteo

Medial Arch

The medial arch supports front and back shin muscles, the flexors of your feet and it's connective tissue (plantar fascia) and muscles of your big toe.

Therefore if this arch fails you may experience shin splints, bunions, plantar fasciitis and or heel pain.

Orthotics Illawong Osteo | Osteo Illawong Orthotics

Lateral Arch

The lateral arch supports the lateral shin muscles, plantar fascia and your little toe muscles.

Therefore if this arch fails you may experience shin splints, calluses on the outside of your foot, plantar fasciitis and or a rolled ankle.

orthotics Illawong | Illawong Orthotics

Transverse Arch

The transverse arch supports both front and back shin muscles, lateral shin muscles and your plantar fascia.

Therefore if this arch fails you may experience shin splints, Morton's neuroma, plantar fasciitis and or claw feet.

Do I Need Orthotics?

As we mentioned above, it is not as simple as a yes or a no. It all starts with an assessment of function because your foot may look bad but function well or look well bad function poorly. Let’s start by figuring out what kind of foot you have, and then we will see what kind of attention it needs.

The ideal is a Neutral or Normal Foot: your foot looks exactly the same whether it is up in the air or down on the ground.

The question to ask is: do you have any pain anywhere?

If located anywhere above your belly button, chances are orthotics will not help much, although they may improve your posture. But if it is below the waist, then they may be helpful. Even normal or neutral feet may find some relief with orthotics or off-the-shelf insoles from the extra support they provide or when the heel is bruised from excessive running.

If you have pronated or supinated feet, then you have to think that the misalignment means that some joint surfaces are not matching perfectly, and that later down the road it may lead to an early degeneration of those joint surfaces known as osteoarthritis. Custom orthotics can help restore your foot alignment.

What about shoes?

With shoes (as with most things), you get what you pay for. If you are a pronater, you need extra arch support. If you are a supinator, you need extra comfort. If you have a neutral foot you need a neutral shoe. In any case, orthotics can benefit almost everybody depending on their condition and use for them.  If you would like to know more, give us a call on 9524 8862 and we can organise your foot assessment when you are available.

This is a demo store for testing purposes — no orders shall be fulfilled.