When buying shoes, the top considerations for most people are comfort, style, and budget. The shoe should be able to distribute your weight evenly so you can lift your leg off the ground without wobbling. If you often experience foot pain due to abnormal movement of your feet, you might need to use orthotic footwear for more cushioning. Here is a detailed piece covering orthotic footwear basics.
What Is Orthotic Footwear?
Orthotic shoes are medically prescribed to support the feet and correct various ailments. These types of supportive shoes have been in use for decades. Initially, the orthotics were made from a metallic material, but they have softer materials today. Over the years, the fit and comfort of the orthotics have also improved. High-intensity runners love Apex – Boss Runner – X-Last – Orthopedic Walker due to their support and comfortability. Others wear the shoes to prevent foot problems in the future.
How Do Orthotic Footwear Work?
Orthotic shoes reduce internal and external pressure acting on various foot parts that may result in pain or injury. While walking, muscles pull the feet inward and forward to facilitate movement. Active Walker Lace Biomechanical Shoe pushes your feet muscles to prevent trauma injuries. They also alter the force exerted by the ground to your foot as you stand, walk, or run. Orthotic converts big pushes into gentle nudges and small nudges into big pushes for better foot function. This, in turn, reduces the excessive force that leads to a foot injury.
During the gait cycle, orthotics offer foot support in different areas to minimize strain. They move pressure from high loading areas like a callus and distribute it to low-pressure areas to achieve balance. If you have injured foot tissue, especially for running athletes, orthotic shoes stabilize the joint to quicken recovery. They also improve the loading on the injured part to promote natural tissue healing and repair.
The foot sole contains about 8000 sensitive nerve endings. They allow the transmission of sensory information from the feet to the brain. This way, the brain adjusts the gait to protect joints and bones and ensure efficient movement. Orthotics improve nerve stimulation on the feet, improving the brain’s neurofeedback and balance. The signals facilitate correct foot function to prevent pain and injury.
Types of Orthotics
Orthotic footwear is highly customizable to meet the users’ specific needs. The two main types are over-the-counter and custom-made orthotics. You can easily find over-the-counter orthotics in a pharmacy in different sizes that help ease foot pain. The problem with this option is that the manufacturers use a generic foot shape, and the one size fits all approach does not suit everyone.
On the other hand, customized orthotic shoes are more personalized in size, material, and design to correct your specific deformity. The orthotic shoe can have a full supportive insert, especially for runners’ shoes, or a smaller insert at the shoe’s heel area. For those with an ankle problem, you may consider ankle-foot orthotics. Based on the severity of your issue, your doctor may prescribe any of the following orthotic options.
They are also known as functional orthotics made from plastics and carbon fiber materials. Their primary function is to control motion in the joints below the ankle to ease foot strains, aches, thigh, back, and leg pain. Rigid orthotics are your ideal option if you need a more stable closed walking or dress shoe with a low heel. These orthotics extend along the sole to the toes, and they require minimal alterations to fit into the patient’s shoe. It is also a more durable option that will serve you long without changing shape or breaking.
If you need extra muscle, joints, and tendons support while walking or participating in sports, you may consider semi-rigid orthotics. You will have the sole customized to suit the game and the athlete’s foot. These orthotics contain layers of a soft material supported by a rigid material to provide dynamic balance.
Soft or accommodative orthotics mainly absorbs shock, minimize pressure in sore spots, and offer cushion. They contain soft compressible material molded into the wearer’s shoe while walking or over a plaster impression of the foot. Soft orthotics extend from the heel to the toes, and since they are somewhat bulky, you wear them with prescription shoes. You can use these shoes to treat arthritis, diabetic foot ulcers, and plantar fasciitis.
Who Need Orthotics
Before you start wearing orthotics, it’s good that you consult with a podiatrist. The foot care specialist will first perform a comprehensive foot assessment to determine your muscle strength, joint axis positioning, and movement. They also conduct a physical examination to spot pain points and look for deformities. Your podiatrist will then recommend the most appropriate orthotic for your case.
The doctor performs laser scanning to get an accurate dimensional representation of your foot to design custom orthotics. Once ready, they fit the orthotics into the chosen footwear. Checkups and gait analysis follow to ensure that the shoe provides the required amount of support and stability. The podiatrist will then review how the orthotic shoe affects your treatment plan and make modifications if necessary. Note that orthotic footwear is a part of a treatment plan for various foot problems resulting in discomfort and pain. You might need orthotic shoes if you want to:
- Improve ankle support
- Correct foot deformities
- Improve foot function
- Prevent injuries in the future.
There are also orthotic shoes for children with deformities. Pediatrics may recommend orthotics once a child starts walking to stabilize their legs. Sports-specific orthotics also help with foot stabilization during skiing and skating. Others use orthotics to treat lower back problems. Older adults may use orthotics to ease foot pain caused by diminishing cushioning fat pads at the bottom of the feet.
Flash II Orthopedic Walker is very beneficial to a patient who just had hip or lower back surgery since they help stabilize foot positioning to reduce pain while walking. Consider Lace Walkers V Last Athletic Shoe if your job involves standing or walking for long hours. This shoe offers more cushioning and distributes pressure your feet experience due to daily activities to minimize discomforts. Orthotics also highly benefit people struggling with excess weight. They ease the extra stress on the feet to prevent injuries.
People with arthritis may also use orthotic shoes to correct poor foot positioning and minimize discomfort. If you often get bunions, get orthotics with a wide toe box to minimize pressure on the big toe, shrink the bump and ease the pain. People with flat feet often experience foot pain at the heel, arch area, and ankle. Orthotic footwear support promotes better foot alignment to ease the pain. Podiatrists may also prescribe orthotic shoes to treat:
- Heel spurs
- Diabetic neuropathy
- Hammer’s toes
- Feet and ankle injuries
Orthotic Shoe Effectiveness
Doctors prescribe orthotic shoes as part of a comprehensive treatment regime for various foot problems. Besides the shoe, the doctor may recommend physical therapy exercises or anti-inflammatory drugs for effective treatment. Mainly orthotics correct wrongly positioned feet to help you avoid more invasive treatment options like surgery.
Athletes move their feet vigorously during port which may apply a lot of pressure. A slight foot imbalance may result in injuries. But orthotics promote better muscle functioning that reduces fatigue and enhances performance. Based on a study, orthotics effectively treat biomechanical abnormalities like shin splints and leg length discrepancy in runners. Most of them continue to use the shoes even after healing. In addition, orthotics decrease internal tibial rotations compared to walking barefoot, which helps reduce foot pain.
When used correctly, orthotic footwear can help correct several feet ailments and offer additional support and heel cushioning to ease the pain. You need to get the right fit shoes and wear them correctly. Keep up with follow-up evaluations to ensure that your feet and orthotics perform correctly.