Orthotics can be used to help alleviate pain for a number of different injuries from the back, to the hip, knee, ankle and foot. But when and why are they best used? Can there be a negative affect of orthotics and is there another way that may be better to help resolve these injuries?
The arch that runs from the big toe to the heel, down the inside of the foot can flatten causing the foot to roll in (pronation), or the arch can be too high causing the foot to roll out (supination). Put simply, it is this rolling that is thought to put twisting forces up the leg resulting in injury. An orthotic is a firm support in your shoe that lifts your arch and stops your foot rolling. This is great in the case of acute pain and in the short term of the injury (first couple of weeks). But now your foot is supported by an aid, the muscles need to work less. If you start to rely on the orthotic and use it too long the foot arch can get weaker – now you can roll even more. Suddenly summer comes along and we wear flat thongs, or kick off our shoes and go barefoot. Disaster strikes: we have even less foot support than before and we can roll a lot more and our injury gets far worse and possibly even new things flare up like plantar fasciitis, back or knee pain.
So if not an orthotic, what?
The foot has muscles the same as any other area of our body. We need to learn how to switch these on and then strengthen them so that we can support our arch naturally. In fact the lumbricals, which are the tiny muscles in between the toes are full of balance receptors so if we learn to use these better our balance should also improve. If they get weak because they are not needed, due to orthotics doing all the work, then our balance may deteriorate.
At Physiologix our physios will teach you about the muscles around the foot, ankle and lower leg and teach you how to activate the ones that you need, depending on your problems. Then its hard work and exercise, the same as with any other injury. You need to get yourself stronger and in doing so align your body into more normal positions that reduce the stress and strain on the structures that resulted in your pain in the first place. It does not matter on what age you are, kids, teenagers, adults and those of us that are more mature – we can all do something to help ourselves.
The physios can also assess other areas that may be weak. Very often foot weakness is also linked with hip weakness – your physio will do various tests to figure out exactly what you need.
Put simply, if you are prepared to do it, there is a huge amount you can do to help yourself in place of an orthotics. Long term this has the potential to give you a stronger, better body…..and most importantly, with less pain
To make a booking or if you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our physios at Physiologix, based at the Gap Health and Racquet Club. You can call us on (07) 3511 1112, or email us form our website