Sometimes your feet need a little help to do their job. That’s the purpose of custom orthotics.
Orthotics are shoe inserts that are designed to correct an irregular or abnormal walking pattern.
A lot of people think of orthotics as “arch supports,” but they’re more than that. Orthotics help make standing, walking, and running more comfortable and efficient by slightly altering the angles at which your foot strikes a walking or running surface.
Foot specialists recommend orthotics as a conservative approach to a variety of foot problems or as a method to stabilize the foot after certain types of foot surgery.
Orthotics come in various forms and materials. However, the purpose of any orthotics is to improve foot function and minimizing stress forces which could ultimately result in foot deformity and foot pain.
Foot orthotics fall into three general categories:
- Those that primarily seek to change foot function…aka “Rigid Orthotics“.
- Those that are mainly protective in nature…aka “Soft Orthotics“.
- Those that combine functional control as well as protection…aka “Semi-Rigid Orthotics“.
A rigid orthotic device is designed to control function. It is often constructed with a firm material such as plastic or carbon fiber, and is used primarily for walking shoes or dress shoes.
A rigid orthotic device is generally created from a plaster of Paris mold of the individual foot. The finished orthotic normally extends along the sole of the heel to the ball or toes of the foot. It is usually worn in closed shoes with a heel height under two inches. Because of the nature of the materials involved, altering your shoe size is normally not necessary.
Rigid orthotics are primarily designed to control motion in two major foot joints which lie directly below the ankle joint. A rigid orthotic device is long lasting, does not change shape and is usually difficult to break.
Aches and pains in the lower extremities and lower back may be due to abnormal function of the foot. In such cases, orthotics may improve or eliminate these symptoms.
A soft orthotic device helps to absorb shock, increase balance and take pressure off sore spots. It is usually constructed of soft, compressible materials and may be shaped by the motion of the foot in walking. Also worn against the sole of the foot, a soft orthotic usually extends from the heel past the ball of the foot to include the toes.
The benefit of of using a soft orthotic device is that it may be easily adjusted to changing weight-bearing forces. The disadvantage, however, is that it must be periodically replaced.
A soft orthotic device is particularly effective for arthritic and grossly deformed feet where there is a loss of protective fatty tissue on the side of the foot. It is also widely used in the care of the diabetic foot. Because it is compressible, the soft orthotic is usually bulkier and might require additional room in your shoe.
This third type of orthotic device (Semi-Rigid) provides for dynamic balance of the foot while walking or engaging in sports. This orthotic is not a crutch, but an aid to the athlete. Each sport has its own demand and each sport orthotic needs to be constructed appropriately with the sport and the athlete taken into account.
This functional dynamic orthotic helps guide the foot through proper functions, allowing the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. The classic, Semi-Rigid orthotic is made from layers of soft material, reinforced with more rigid materials.
Orthotics for Children
Orthotic devices are effective in the treatment of children with foot deformities. Most podiatrists recommend that children with such deformities be placed in orthotics shortly after they begin walking, to stabilize their foot. The orthotic devices can be placed directly into a standard shoe or an athletic shoe.
Usually, the orthotics have to be replaced when the child´s foot has grown two sizes. Different types of orthotics may be needed as the child´s foot develops and changes shape.
The length of time a child needs orthotics varies considerably, depending on the seriousness of the deformity and how soon correction is addressed.
If you’ve been suffering from recurring foot pain, ankle pain, leg pain or lower back pain it’s possible that you need custom orthotics to fix the problem.
Our office is located in Sterling Heights on Dequindre Road just north of 18 Mile Road. To make an appointment, please call us at 586-731-7873. Most insurance plans accepted.