Will orthotics help?
This is exactly the question I’ve been asking myself recently and so I attended a course to try and find some answers. The ICB heat moldable orthoticscourse delved into who, what, why and how of orthotics, giving me a much greater insight into when they might be required.
What are orthotics and what do they do?
Orthotics are designed to help the biomechanics of our mid foot and therefore altering biomechanics of the ankle and knee and so forth. This midfoot area of the foot is where we pronate, our navicular bone drops inferiorly (closer to the ground) and causes a medial rotation force of the foot and ankle, giving the appearance of a flat foot. For every degree the midfoot rolls medially, our tibia (or shin bone) rotates medially with it, creating a sheering motion at the both the ankle and the knee. If your body cannot control this motion then the parts of the body can become overloaded. Over a period of time this extra stress on muscles, joint and/or ligaments can lead to pain and injury, particularly in the hips, knees, ankles and feet.
What common conditions can heat moldable orthotics help with?
With professional fitted, personally designed heat moldable orthotics, correcting the motion of the foot in walking and standing may aid in providing relief to people suffering from :
- Medial arch pain
- Plantar Fasciitis and heel spurs
- Achilles pain and tendonopathy
- Metatarsalgia (pain at the ball of your toes)
- Severs Disease
- Osgood Schlatters
- Calf tightness
- Knee pain, particularly lateral knee like runner’s knee or ITB friction syndrome
- Hip pain
What is a heat moldable orthotic?
A heat moldable orthotic is a medical device made from EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl acetate) that is firm yet moldable with heat, allowing an individualised orthotic for the specific shape of a person’s foot. Once molded, the orthotic should provide adequate support for the arch of your foot as it sits in your sneaker and even your dress shoe.
The ICB orthotics come with different densities for all shapes and sizes, suitable for everyone from the athletes to the sedentary. The orthotics are designed from biomechanical studies of foot and ankle motion both standing and moving. This has led to them developing a 5 degree heel lift and a 15mm cup to control the rear foot to further help positioning of the foot.
How is it fitted?
Your practitioner will assess the way you walk and stand to see if the orthotic is necessary, by using their knowledge of the body they will guide your foot and ankle into a ‘neutral’ position to minimise over pronation of the foot. Aligning from the toe up to the middle of the shin. The orthotic will then be heated and placed into the shoe whilst holding this neutral position, within minutes you will have a fully personalized orthotic.
What’s the difference between heat moldable and the rigid orthotics I can buy?
- The benefit of the heat moldable orthotic is it can be shaped to your individual foot and even allow for differences between the right and left foot as they are often different.
- They can be easily re-molded as your foot, gait or pain pattern changes.
- Cost – they are typically far cheaper than most of the solid orthotics, which can cost upwards of $500…..and as mentioned above, if anything changes you don’t need a whole new pair of orthotics. We can reshape the ones you have!
- The typical rigid orthotics can be quite firm and lack that bit of cushion for optimal comfort.
Are orthotics for everyone?
Orthotics aren’t typically suited for typically elderly patients as their naturally weaker bone structure may respond negatively the vast change in biomechanics and create too much stress in their body. It is also important to know that orthotics won’t ‘fix’ an issue, but they can aid in the recovery from certain injuries. Exercises are still often required, but the orthotics are a support system to improve mechanics on this journey.
How has it helped me?
As mentioned in earlier blogs, I’ve had massive ankle issues and as a result have limited and altered ROM in my movement patterns, since getting some orthotics fitted to myself, I feel as though my range of motion has improved, I’m more comfortable walking long distance and flexing my foot forward in things as simple as picking something up off the ground. They took some getting used to at the beginning but you could feel each day getting easier and easier with exercise.
Dr. Cameron Bayliss
B Hlth Sc, B App Sc (Osteopathy)