Do I need Orthotics?

Do I need Orthotics?

If you are suffering foot or lower limb pain, it is possible foot orthotics could help you. Most people think of orthotics as a device that holds or locks your feet into a specific alignment so that you will begin to walk in such a way that reduces pain or takes pressure off painful areas. This is not the case at all.

Orthotics work by altering proprioception to the bottom of the feet. Proprioception is defined as the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli detected by nerves within the body and the workings of the inner ear. By altering proprioception, the orthotics, in turn, alter muscle activity throughout the lower limb. This alteration in muscle activity dampens the amount of vibration that occurs in the soft tissues. By dampening the vibration in the soft tissues, there is a reduction in the injuries such as shin splints; ITB syndrome and plantar fasciitis.

With an orthotic in the footwear, in the last 50 milliseconds before the foot touches the ground, it will land in a manner that is more conducive to a non-injury type of impact. In other words, the orthotic acts as a stimulatory device rather than a device holding the foot in a particular alignment. Specific contours are built into the orthotic to match the patients needs so to cause a more biomechanically efficient firing sequence in the muscles of the lower limb. In a sense, the orthotic re-teaches the foot how to walk.

How are orthotics made to suit my feet?

Traditionally, a podiatrist will observe a patient walking up and down a corridor and attempt to formulate an impression of that patient’s gait pattern. Gait Scan Technology however, is a state of the art diagnostic tool and digital casting device that allows practitioners to analyze patient biomechanics and order custom orthotic products.

This state of the art technology eliminates any human error that is typical during traditional orthotic fittings. Rather than using dated plaster of Paris castings as the mould for orthotic design, Gait Scan Technology designs an orthotic using digital data gathered during a dynamic assessment of the patient’s foot biomechanics. This is an important distinction between Gait Scan Technology and other digital orthotic design technologies.


In this image you can see the difference in pressure experienced through my left and right foot indicated by the various colours (scale from red=high to blue=very low). The thick black line indicates the centre of pressure through the foot during my gait cycle. Superimposed is the green optimal gait line. You can see from this scan that I am like 97% of population and demonstrate a rolling in of the feet (or pronation) during gait.


This is a 3D mesh representation of my feet. Notice there are ‘valleys and peaks’ throughout my feet whereas they should demonstrate a more ‘rolling hills’ pattern.

Other technologies typically have the patient standing stationary on a footplate whilst a digital scan of their feet is taken. The orthotic is designed based on how one stands during static posture. By comparison, Gait Scan technology has the patient walk or run across a gait plate analysing the biomechanics of the feet whilst in motion. The design of the orthotic is thus better tailored to the movements of the feet most likely during a patients chosen activity.

The FAQs of orthotics

1. Why would I even consider using orthotics?Two reasons: you either have foot or lower limb pain; or you are an athlete with a desire to enhance your performance. Orthotics work to enhance you performance by teaching the joints and muscles of the lower limb to move and contract at the optimal moment for your body specifications.

2. How often should I wear them?Strictly speaking you should wear them every time you are on your feet but it does depend on the nature of your complaint. If you suffer constant foot or lower limb pain then you will need to wear them as often as you can. If you do not suffer regular foot or lower limb pain however and are just wanting them for use on the sporting field, then you need only wear them at these times.

3. How long do they last?The foot biomechanics will change roughly every five years and so you will need to be re-assessed at this time. For growing kids it is recommended they be re-assessed each year but this does not necessarily mean having to replace their orthotics each year. Orthotics should come with a lifetime warranty for the mould itself, where as the top comfort layer will usually come with a six month warranty.

4. What types of orthotic are there?Orthotics are designed for different shoe types and different sports. They come in lengths known as sulcus, three-quarter or full length. A sulcus length might be used for a smaller ballet flat type womens shoe, a three-quarter length would be for alternating between different work shoes and a full length might be used for running. You can also have the orthotics tailored for use in court sports such as basketball and tennis, or field sports such as soccer and rugby.

If you are experiencing foot and/or lower limb pain, a gait scan assessment can tell you in less than five minutes whether an orthotic would be beneficial to you or not. Furthermore, it has been demonstrated that the use of orthotics can relieve symptoms of low back pain including slipped disc and sciatica. You can BOOK ONLINE for a Gait Scan assessment today.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.

High Heels = Bad Posture + Bad Feet

High Heels = Bad Posture + Bad Feet

Why wearing high heeled shoes is not good for your feet and general posture

Women love to wear high heels, but they will suffer for their vanities. When a woman wears high heels, a new dynamic equilibrium occurs. If one body part becomes fixed, the rest of the body must compensate with altered movement patterns resulting in a series of irritated muscles and stiff joints.

In young women, this is accommodated fairly well by ankle and hip mobility and low back stability. Unfortunately, many high-heel wearing women find that as they age, the hip joints stiffen. Shock waves from each successive step shoot through the lumbar spine causing disc compression, ligamentous laxity and facet joint spurring. Women should be cautious about wearing heels constantly, or over long periods of time.

The foot functions as a compliant mechanism of reception and distribution of body weight, adapting to surface irregularities and acting as a rigid lever that propels the body forward during walking. Footwear gives support to the feet and should be worn to enhance their functions, instead of interfering with the transmission of information from the pressures on the adequate support areas or during the movements needed while walking. Footwear can often change the ideal alignment of the feet.

Exaggerated use of high-heeled footwear causes shortening of the calf musculature. Frequent high-heel wearers thus often feel uncomfortable when wearing flat-soled shoes as the calves are required to lengthen in these types of shoe. The elevation of the heel bone leads to altered walking patterns and can eventually cause foot instability.

There is an important relationship between heel height and overload on the arches of the foot. High heel use changes body mass distribution, reducing the pressure on the heel bone and shifting it to the forefoot. The weight born by the tip of the foot is in direct proportion to the height of the heel. Continuous use of high heels results in overload, which compresses the joints at the base of the toes (the balls of the toes).

Good posture cannot be achieved unless the feet are planted firmly on the ground. As a result, feet deformities and changes in loading also change posture. This raises the issue that if wearing high heels changes the mechanics of the foot, it eventually generates muscular changes to the lower limbs and consequently produces ascending compensatory postural changes.

Clearly, the human foot was not designed to walk in stilettos nor cowboy boots for that matter. The foot is specifically constructed to land in a heel to toe rolling motion whereby the foot arch, ankle, and knee absorb shock and release the ground reaction-force up the body’s kinetic chain to counter-rotate the torso and pelvis. The heeled shoe steals this propulsive power from tendons, ligaments and leg muscles.

Not only do heels place the foot and leg under greater stress to achieve the demands of propulsion, but the borrowed power must be leeched from higher structures in the kinetic chain – the knees, thigh muscles, hips, and trunk. As a small army of anatomical reinforcements are recruited to rescue the handicapped fascial tissues, the body continues to lose energy to the ground.

Shoe heels of any height set in motion a series of negative consequences, rendering normal walking impossible. Ask your chiropractor to check your feet. He or she should be able to adjust or manipulate the joints of the feet to relieve the effects of walking in high heeled shoes.

*DISCLAIMER: This discussion does not provide medical advice. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained in this discussion are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this discussion is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog.