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Orthotics – Walk This Way…

April 18, 2011

All of us have our own, unique pattern of movements, gestures, and even walks.  I’m sure that you’ve been in this situation before:  you’re at the mall looking for your mom/dad/sibling/spouse in a crowd and immediately recognize them from a distance not from their face or clothing, but from their movements.  It’s pretty cool how tuned-in we can become to those we’re close with.

As a chiropractor a large portion of my job involves assessing how the body moves; evaluating the interplay between joints, limbs, and muscles and seeing the patterns that arise.  And although you can take the chiropractor out of the clinic it’s not so easy to take the clinic(ian) out of the chiropractor.  So it’s not uncommon that when I’m walking around in public spaces (downtown Guelph, the mall, the park) I can find myself subconsciously evaluating the gait (walking) patterns of those around me.  Sometimes I’ll notice a short stride or a bit of a limp.  Sometimes I’ll notice that someone is leaning more to one side than the other.  Often, however, it will really stand out when someone is over-pronating.

Over-pronation is a condition where the arch of the foot fails to provide proper support for walking/running.  It is often secondary to another condition called pes planus (a.k.a.  flat foot/fallen arches) and can be easy to identify in those who’s shoes get compressed along the inside half between the heel and the toe.  No, over-pronation and flat feet aren’t the end of the world.  But they do affect how you move, feel, and function.

You can take upwards of 10,000 steps every day.  Considering the amount of stress, force and pressure that’s applied to your feet with each step it’s no wonder that they often feel tired and sore at the end of the day.  Your feet are the foundation for your body and as such it is important that they provide proper support to the rest of your skeleton.  Misalignment of foot mechanics can lead to not only foot pain but can also affect the joints above including those in the knee, hip and back.

One way to help improve foot mechanics is through the use of custom orthotics.  An orthotic is an insert placed within the shoe to alter and enhance foot function.  Recent studies have shown that orthotics can even help increase the proprioceptive (balance) fibers in the feet and ankles and that this in turn may improve athletic performance.  Common problems that orthotics can help with include: flat feet; over-pronation; high arches; bunions; plantar fasciitis; knee, hip or back pain.

Orthotics come in all different shapes, sizes and styles.  There’s no one best type but there are some key considerations:

What will you be using the orthotic for?  Some orthotics are designed for everyday use.  Others are better for sports such as soccer, hockey and running while others fit better in dress shoes (yes, even high heels!).

Is it a custom orthotic?  Not all orthotics are created equal.  If you are getting a custom orthotic, make sure it’s just that – custom, which is made for your specific foot.  Some orthotics use a best fit or customized template which only approximates your foot’s shape and specific needs.

Who are you getting them from?  Chiropractors, among other regulated health professionals, are able to provide orthotics.  Choose a provider with whom you feel comfortable and who will provide a proper biomechanical assessment to ensure you’re getting the right orthotic for you.

Most health insurance plans cover the cost of custom orthotics.  Your insurance provider knows that happy feet contribute to a healthy person.

Not everyone needs a custom orthotic.  But for those who do, it can make a world of difference in comfort, pain relief, and performance.  If you would like more information on orthotics give us a ring at Clear Path Chiropractic Health Centre in Guelph ON.

* As a bonus, five (5) points to anyone who can give the appropriate reference to the above image in this post (see Health Pursuit for description of points system and value).

Photo Credit:  stringberd

From → Foot Pain, Orthotics

  1. Shaun McKenna permalink

    It’s quite obviously the Ministry of Silly Walks. Do you require more specificity?

  2. Well done Shaun! Here are your 5 points. Please enjoy.

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