Orthotics

Your skeletal alignment is not something that’s fixed, it changes with your job, activities, sleep and much more. Perhaps the most important consideration in maintaining a healthy alignment is your feet. After all, they’re the first things to touch the ground when you wake up and they are literally the foundation for how the rest of your bones and muscles perform. Orthotic solutions may be necessary for optimal balance.

If your feet aren’t properly balanced, you may suffer from:

  • plantar fasciitis
  • heel pain
  • foot pain
  • heel spur
  • bunion
  • pain in arch of foot

Just about everyone knows the feet have an arch. What most don’t know, is that there are actually three distinct arches. The big one in the middle that we all know of is called the Medial Longitudinal Arch. The other two, smaller ones are called the Lateral Longitudinal Arch (which means it runs toe to heel on the outer side of your foot) and the Transverse Arch (which means it runs left to right across your foot).

The three arches work together to cushion impact and form your overall foot type:

  • high arch
  • neutral
  • flat foot

High arches are less shock absorbent and a bit more prone to injury. Those with high arches generally feel better with custom orthotics.

Neutral foot is optimal.

Flat foot can be acquired through injury or wear and tear. You may have noticed that babies have flat feet. This is not an indication of their eventual foot shape because arches start to form at around age five. That being said, teenage years are especially important to ensure arches are optimised as the teen goes through significant growth phases.

So when your arches aren’t quite ideal or they’re mismatched, your knees, hips, ribs and even right up to your jaw (called the kinetic chain) are affected. This is where custom orthotics may be of benefit. By making it easier for your feet to have the correct arches, the rest of your skeleton is set up to perform at its best.

Here is an xray of the pelvis of someone without and with custom orthotics:
orthotics - effect on hip alignment
Image source.

This person will no longer suffer as much from improve symptoms from any ankle, knee, low back and hip pain, if present.

The arches of your feet will also determine how your foot rolls as you walk. It may roll inwards (pronation) or outwards (supination). Either of these will impact your gait and the subsequent pressure on all of your weight-bearing joints. If your feet roll in or out, you may benefit from custom orthotics.

orthotics - effect on gait

Image source.

Pronation or supination may have significant impact on your Q-Angle (the angle between your quadriceps and patella tendon), which may in turn leave you more prone to injury. Women are more likely to experience knee issues simply because they have wider hips which alters their Q-angle.

orthotics - q-angle

Image source.

What are custom orthotics?

They’re inserts for your shoes that are made specifically for your feet. Some people call them insoles. If you may benefit from orthotics, I will use a special machine to measure your feet’s arches and your orthotics will be built just for you. There are different types of orthotics for different types of shoes. From runners, sandals, dress shoes/high heels or work boots, there are options to cover most, if not all, of your footwear needs.

I always use custom orthotics made by Foot Levelers  in conjunction with chiropractic care.

Can I just get some gel inserts from the pharmacy?

I have found that over-the-counter orthotics only address the Medial Longitudinal Arch (the big one!), completely ignoring the other two. They are made as a one-size-fits-all option and therefore probably aren’t the best option for your specific feet.

You can book in to have your feet scanned by using the bookings button below. Or if you have any questions, you can send me an email.