Foot orthoses come in many different forms. The basic principles of orthotic therapy, is the application of an aid under the feet to support the arch and correct an abnormal gait. However, the use of orthoses covers a much broader range.
Orthoses can indeed be applied to a ‘flat foot’ and help support the arch. But as technology continues to advance in this area of health, we are able to be much more specific and accurate in applying these devices to target joints and soft tissues in the entire lower body.
Orthoses are often used in short-term scenarios to help offload injured muscles and tendons in athletes speeding up recovery and getting them back to training quicker.
We also see a lot of people who want to train or participate in sports but struggle with an ongoing injury. In these scenarios we are equipped to identify the problem structure and figure out how the patient’s gait and foot posture could be affecting it. The application of orthoses in these patients to fine tune their mechanics and maintain a pain free training regime will often lead to complete long term improvement of their pathology.
There is a misconception that flat feet are the only feet that need orthotic therapy. Flat feet are only a portion of the huge range of foot types to which we apply orthoses.
High arched feet may not absorb shock effectively and can be linked to stress related injuries and therefore may also benefit from orthotic therapy, as do any painful feet or knees that may be linked to a functional anomaly. It is also important to note that podiatrists do not apply orthoses to every painful foot that we see.
Often the pain is solved with muscle strengthening, stretching, strapping, dry needle techniques and many other treatment options. Orthoses are just another tool in a podiatrist’s arsenal which enable us to manage pain effectively and achieve optimal patient outcomes.