Orthotics: What Are They and How They Work


Orthotics: what are they?

Orthotics—also known as functional foot orthotics or orthosis—are custom medical devices that are used to treat various conditions of the foot. They are inserted into shoes and can be extremely effective in addressing:

  • Chronic foot pain and aches
  • Hip and back pain
  • Gait (walking cycle) abnormalities
  • Foot or lower limb misalignments
  • Foot deformities such as flat feet (overpronation)

Are there different types of orthotics?

Absolutely. As mentioned above, orthotics are specially made and tailored to the unique needs of each patient. It is important to note that there is a large difference between off-the-shelf inserts and orthotics. Custom orthotics are generated from scans/molds taken of the patient’s feet and prescribed by trained professionals such as podiatrists. Conversely, off-the-shelf inserts can be purchased from pharmacies and online shops without a prescription. They are generally one-size-fits-all and made of less durable materials.

What do orthotics do?

Ultimately, orthotics change the mechanics of the foot. In other words, orthotics alter the motion of how the foot works. Some common functions of orthotics include:

  • Providing cushioning to areas of the foot that undergo augmented stress or friction, such as the heel, forefoot, and arch
  • Preventing excessive rotation of the ankle
  • Providing support to correct deformities and prevent injury
  • Adding elevation to the heel

The most common purpose of implementing an orthotic is to prevent abnormal degrees of pronation (the natural inwards rotation of the foot when walking). Overpronation is, by far, the most frequent issue we tackle in the clinic. With overpronation, we see an excessive movement of the foot towards the midline and a collapsing of the foot’s arch. An orthotic designed for this type of deformity would have a raised arch support on the medial (inner) side composed of a firm material.

How do I know if I need orthotics?

The best way to determine whether you would benefit from orthotics is to visit a podiatrist who can conduct an in-depth examination of your feet. They will take a thorough medical history as well as assess your range of motion and gait (how you walk). During the appointment, be sure to inform them of any aches or pains you are experiencing, as it can give them a better understanding of the underlying problems.

Please comment below with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your feet and what can be done to treat them. You can also access additional information and reach us at docpods.com.au. We look forward to hearing from you!

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