Orthotics – Will they save your foot or your back?
The human foot is a highly developed, bio-mechanically complex structure. It serves to bear the weight of the body as well as forces many times the weight of the human body during propulsion.
Together, the feet contain 52 bones, which is a quarter of all the bones in the body. All the foot bones work together with numerous ligaments and tendons to make up 3 arches. Therefore a strong foot gives the body a perfect and stable foundation to work from.
When we walk, we put 1.5 times our body weight through our feet, so imagine the pressure and impact when running!
Problems in the feet can affect the normal function of the knee, hip, spine, even as far the jaw.
Therefore your low back pain may very well be connected to improper mechanics in the foot.
The neutral position of the foot is designed to transmit forces as you go through the stages of walking. These forces go through the lower limb and up to the pelvis and spine.
If there is a misalignment with the bones in the foot, and therefore a mal-positioned arch, the forces cannot be transmitted effectively. This can lead to a variety of problems including foot pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, knee pain, hip pain or back pain.
Whether you are a supinator (+/- 3% of the population) or a pronator (+/- 67% of the population), each brings its own challenges in terms of how to best manage them.
Those of you with high arches (“supinators”) tend to have tight muscles around the foot, making it rigid and less able to absorb shock efficiently. This can lead to stress fractures and Achilles tendon problems.
The pronators among us have the opposite problem, whereby the musculature tends to be too relaxed and so the arch becomes flattened. Here, shock absorption takes place but tends to transmit further up the leg causing knee pain, hip pain, low back pain, and plantar fasciitis in the foot.
Making sure you have the right type of shoe for your foot, together with suitable orthotics can go a long way to avoiding complications and pain that arises from foot dysfunction.
An array of foot problems can be treated with shoe inserts called custom made orthotics (CMO). CMO’s are medical devices inserted into the shoe and act as shock absorbers, promote proper alignment and mechanics of the feet, restore balance, treat certain foot conditions, remove stress from the lower extremity and can alleviate pain in the knees, hips and lower back.
As previously mentioned, back problems can often be traced to an imbalance in the feet.
We are now offering CMO’s at Sydney Spine & Sports Clinic through our Melanie (our Canadian trained chiropractor) and Greg. Both Melanie and Greg have worked with The Orthotic Group Co for many years and know firsthand that orthotics should only be worn if necessary and when required. If you have any doubts or questions, come in for a foot assessment and Melanie or Greg will let you know if CMO’s are an option for you. Do yourself a favor – take care of your feet, the rest of your body will thank you!
As chiropractors, we can assess your feet and gait patterns and give recommendations for what you can do to help yourself. Although we can prescribe the orthotics (by taking a foam mould of your feet), the highly experienced specialist team in Canada manufacture the orthotics from the impression. We are not podiatrists, but we do recommend orthotics to support our treatment.
As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ring us.
Want to find out what arch type you have?
Take the Runners World foot type test: Click here
Find out if you could benefit from orthotics and Be Mobile!