Foot orthotics are medical devices that go inside your shoes. They function to correct a person’s gait (walking) and biomechanics (movement). You may be familiar with the terms “insoles”, “arch support”, “cushioning”, “padding” and “flat feet”. Presently, there is an overwhelming amount of information given by shop assistants, kiosks, online, friends or family and pamphlets. This information is often given with good intentions but completely wrong. Here are some common myths regarding custom-made foot orthotics, and why they’re wrong:
Many patients express fear and worry that they will become dependent on orthotics. A simple read of medical literature will reveal the opposite effect. With poor alignment of the feet, it is more likely for you to damage the muscles and ligaments in the feet. When correcting the foot into the ideal position, the foot starts to function the way it should; engaging and strengthening the correct muscles. Once the problem is corrected you can stop wearing orthotics.
While it is true that not all children require orthotics, abnormal appearances in your child’s foot or walking is a cause for concern. Not all children will require orthotics as treatment, however, orthotics can play an important role in improving their foot postures. For instance, children are fitted with spectacles regardless of their age but based on their eye problems. Similarly, if a foot problem is noted, it must be corrected especially at an early stage.
Podiatrists spend 3 years of their training learning how to prescribe orthotics. Podiatrists are certified to prescribe corrective medical orthotics the same way your general practitioner is certified to prescribe drugs. Custom orthotics work like medication too. There are over 100 prescription variations for custom made orthotics. Ready-made orthotics and semi-custom made orthotics purchased in stores, at kiosks, at pharmacies all do the same thing; provide some level of mild arch support. Most people with pain or deformity require a Podiatrist prescribed custom orthotic. People with no pain just looking for comfort will do well with orthotics bought from a store.
In recent years, awareness of foot health has greatly increased. It is now commonplace to see arch support sandals and shoes everywhere. It is absolutely true that if you are ‘flat-footed’ you need some form of arch support. What if you have a normal foot structure or a supinated foot; do you need arch support? No. In fact, it may worsen your problem. Not everyone needs arch support. The same way not everyone needs chronic medication or prescription glasses.
Anti-pronation / Stability running shoes are now more accessible than ever before. They are unfortunately not able to correct any foot condition. Running shoe companies do not claim these shoes correct foot problems. They are concerned with comfort and performance. Your podiatrist may recommend one of these shoes since they compliment custom made orthotics.