Orthotics and Arch Support Therapy

Everything you need to know about foot orthotics.

Customised foot orthotics prescribed by a podiatrist  can be very helpful in the treatment of lower limb, foot, knee, hip and back pain, fatigue and/or function.

The foot is a very complex structure consisting of 26 bones. It has many ligaments and tendons that help support the arches and supports the body’s entire weight.

The feet form the base of the body, and if there is a misalignment in the feet this can lead to abnormal loads and pressures on the rest of the body throughout gait (walking cycle), resulting in various pathologies.

At Well Heeled Podiatry we use 3D digital scanners to take impressions of your feet and high quality materials manufactured in Melbourne.

Our podiatrist will make sure your foot orthoses are as practical as possible when it comes to shoe fitting. Customised foot orthoses are designed to allow your feet to function with a normal gait pattern.

Foot Orthotics

The Normal Gait Cycle:

Consists of a swing phase (40%) and stance phase (60%), with one gait cycle comprising of two steps. The stance phase, (where the foot is in contact with the ground) can be broken down  into 3 phases:

1st phase:

Contact phase is when the heel first strikes the ground. The heel should strike at the centre of the heel, so normal shoe wear should occur on the posterior outside of the shoe. This phase continues until the foot is flat on the ground and carries into phase 2.

2nd phase:

Midstance is where the weight passes over the foot. The joints in our feet unlock with internal rotation, knee flexion and forward tilt of the pelvis to allow for shock absorption.

These first two phases total half of the gait cycle and is where patients will experience most heel, arch and midfoot pain if any abnormalities exist.

3rd phase:

Propulsion phase is the final phase of gait. It incorporates toe off, where the foot pushes off the ground allowing forward momentum. The foot will lock into place, with external rotation and extension of the knee and posterior tilt of the pelvis. Most forefoot pain will manifest in this phase of the gait cycle.

At Well Heeled Podiatry the anatomy and function of the foot and lower limb will be assessed during gait, allowing for the effective diagnosis of the cause of injury and the development of deformities (i.e bunions, clawed toes).

Foot Orthotics:Foot Orthotics

Foot orthotics are used to evenly distribute pressure/force on the soles of the feet to alleviate pain and prevent overuse injuries.

Customised foot orthotics (made specifically for your feet) are very different to a simple arch support you may purchase in a pharmacy or sports store. It has specific modifications to apply direct forces to certain aspects of the foot  to improve postural stability, decrease certain tissue stresses and  improve foot function.

Customised foot orthotics are like prescription glasses and are only affective while you are wearing them. However foot posture may improve with continual wear of your foot orthotics, which can last anywhere from 6 months to 5 years. This is why is it important to have your devices assessed by a podiatrist every 6-12 months.

There are three different types of material that are commonly used by podiatrist in the manufacturer of customised foot orthotics. The softer devises are made from EVA (Ethylvinylacetate) material and the firmer devices are polypropylene and carbon fibre. These materials differ in properties and will be prescribed depending on your symptoms, foot type, activity level and age.

Children’s Orthotics:

Children can wear foot orthotics, but the age at which they should wear them is debatable and very much patient based. A simple wedge, exercises and monitoring may be all that is necessary. If you are concerned with the appearance of your children’s feet or their walking pattern it is best to get them assessed as young as possible to ensure normal development.

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