Biomechanics & Orthotics

Proactive Physio Galway

Physio Services | Orthotics

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.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

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