What are orthotics?
Orthotics are devices, typically custom made, that are placed in shoes to help control the position and movement of the foot/ankle complex. Quite simply, orthotics help to position the foot so that it is in the least stressful position when it strikes the ground. Because the foot strikes the ground many thousands of times a day, such optimal positioning is important.
There are many different styles of orthotics, just as there are many different styles of shoes. Orthotics can be made for specific sports, such as running and biking, or for everyday dress shoes. Sport orthotics are sturdy enough to control a person’s foot hitting the ground with greater force when compared to walking, whereas dress orthotics are more svelte to allow a better fit into a more form-fitted shoe.
Orthotics are made from a variety of materials but are typically constructed from firm plastic that can adequately withstand the weight of the body. This “shell” is covered with a softer overlay, which allows for control of the foot and comfort at the same time.
Who can benefit from orthotics?
A properly made orthotic device will help control the foot ankle complex, which in turn helps to normalize the stresses coming up the leg as we walk. We see many different problems that can benefit from a custom orthotic, from the runner suffering from plantar fasciitis to the office worker struggling with chronic lower back pain. A person with a flat foot can benefit from the increased support from a custom orthotic. A person with a high arch can also benefit from an orthotic because it helps to disperse the excessive forces that often come with this foot type.
In the images below the joints of the foot and ankle are better aligned with the orthotic device. The orthotic places the muscles in a position where they can work more optimally and helps reduce the strain on the leg each time the foot hits the ground.
Our trained therapists can help you determine if you need a custom orthotic device.
How do you make orthotics?
Orthotics fabrication at Sports and Spinal Physical Therapy starts with a thorough biomechanical evaluation of the lower extremity. This typically includes assessing range of motion, posture, and mobility of the legs. Additionally, we take digital pictures of the client’s feet from different angles, as well as digital video of their walking gait to send to the lab. This allows the technician at the lab to literally “see” our clients as they fabricate their device. A final component of the orthotics process is creating plaster casts of the client’s feet. Though this process is more labor intensive, it produces a great final product that will help a client for years to come.
Why should I choose SSPT to make my orthotics?
At SSPT, we look at our client “whole-listically!” Instead of just focusing on the body part that is painful, we look at the whole body to better understand how the joints above and below the symptomatic area are involved. We make orthotics the same way. We look at the leg from where it starts—the pelvis—all the way down to your toes. This approach is key because so many features of the leg can influence the others. For example, hip weakness can cause the leg to be unstable, compromising the foot as a result. Therefore, when you choose SSPT to make your orthotic, you will receive not only a well-fitting orthotic but a careful look at more than just your foot and ankle.
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