What are orthotics?
Orthotics are devices that you put into your shoes or sports footwear. They are used to offload injured or painful areas of your feet or legs by altering how you absorb force from the ground up.
Biomechanics and Orthotics
Biomechanics looks at the way in which your feet move and the effect that has on the rest of your body when you walk, run, jump, move, play sport etc.
Your feet are complex structures that support your entire body weight. Having “abnormal” or non-ideal foot biomechanics can cause a chain reaction in other areas of your body that when combined with high impact activity or prolonged periods of time on your feet can lead to pain and dysfunction.
Orthotics aim to offload areas of your body that may be absorbing undue stress and strain and possibly contributing to your pain or injury.
Who may benefit from orthotics?
There is scientific evidence to support the use of orthotics, in combination with other modalities such as load management and strengthening exercises for the following conditions;
• Anterior knee pain
• “Shin splints”
• Iliotibial band syndrome (ITB)
• Patellofemoral pain
• Patellar tendinitis
Gait means the way in which you walk and run. Gait analysis is a specific measurement of this. We use TOG Gaitscan system as part of our gait analysis. This is an innovative diagnostic tool with over 4000 sensors and a scan rate of 300 frames per second that gives us in-depth analysis of the distribution of force though your feet as you move. Previously we took a plaster of paris cast of your feet.
This world-class technology along with manual hands on assessment of your feet and joints, and assessment of your functional ability and restrictions gives us a comprehensive biomechanical overview of how you move, allowing us identify problem areas that may be contributing to your pain.
How do orthotics work?
Injury of a gradual onset of the lower limb can often be attributed to how well your body is absorbing load and forces from the ground through your joints, ligaments, tendons and muscles.
If we take for example a road runner with an overuse injury ie. gradual onset shin splints;
Three factors could be at play here
- Their feet aren’t absorbing the force from the ground through their legs as efficiently as they could, which leads to repeated micro trauma of their soft tissues around their shins.
- They are training for a marathon, which is a large increase in their training volume and doesn’t allow enough time for tissue healing and recovery.
- Their muscles and soft tissues aren’t very well conditioned ie they aren’t doing enough strength and conditioning of the muscles of their legs to condition them to absorb that increased load.
All of this leads to breakdown of soft tissues, ie shin splints. Management of this may involve addressing how their foot could better absorb forces through their injured tissues using orthotics, altered training program that allows for tissue response to load and enough recovery time, strength and conditioning of leg muscles to become more efficient at absorbing load.
In summary, orthotics can be very helpful as part of the rehabilitation of overuse injuries of the lower limb.