FOOT ORTHOSES… WHAT ARE THEY?
Foot orthoses are insoles that are worn inside the shoe to help improve foot and lower limb biomechanics and dissipate impact forces during gait. Foot orthoses can be custom-made or prefabricated and are made from a variety of different materials.
WILL THEY HELP MY BIOMECHANICS?
Abnormal motion and instability of the foot may lead to muscle overuse and poor shock absorption during walking and running. By helping to improve and optimise foot motion, foot orthoses can be used to treat and prevent foot and lower limb injury. When being assessed for foot orthoses the demands of the sport being played is taken into consideration. Often a small change in the mechanics of the foot can make a big difference to the overall function of the lower limb.
Foot orthoses are often used in conjunction with other forms of treatment, such as strengthening and gait retraining. They rely heavily on the footwear they are worn in and therefore if footwear is inappropriate this will often be dealt with before orthotic support is considered. Quite often a change in footwear can make a big difference to symptoms.
WHAT ARE FOOT ORTHOSES MADE FROM?
Custom-made foot orthoses can be made from a variety of materials and are often NOT “hard”. Flexible plastics and high-density foams are commonly used and tolerated well by athletes. Often various additions, such as top covers and padding, are added depending on the patient’s needs. Foot orthoses designed for sports are often made from more resilient materials to ensure they hold up to the demands placed on them.
Foot orthoses should be comfortable but can take a little while to get use to as the foot is in a different position.
HOW LONG WILL THEY LAST?
Custom-made orthoses may last up to 4-5 years but this depends on the activity level, the type of sport being played and the materials the devices are made from. Additions such as top covers may require periodic replacement.
Generic foot orthoses fitted by a Podiatrist can last up to 12-18 months depending on the type of device used and the demands that are placed on them.
WHAT ABOUT THE INSOLES I CAN BUY AT THE SPORTS STORE?
There is a wide range of “over the counter” arch supports available. These may help in some cases but often are not specific enough and are made from materials that generally don’t stand up to the demands of sport.
Podiatrists often dispense “practitioner only” generic foot orthoses made from relatively durable materials, however these are often modified to a certain degree with various wedging and padding. This type of device is commonly used for children and for adults when trialing the effectiveness of support or when extra support is only required short term. The use of generic insoles, when issued appropriately, can be very successful.
WHO NEEDS THEM?
If you’re playing sports or participating in regular activity it is worthwhile coming into the clinic and getting checked by Physioworks Helath Group Podiatrist Ben Holland.
Land based activities can place enormous strain on our lower limbs and feet. Your mechanics may need some adjustment whether it’s a change of shoes, a strengthening program or some orthotic inserts. If you are getting persistent injuries or tired feet and legs then come into the clinic for a consult with Ben.
Physioworks sell pre-fabricated generic foot orthoses for $110.00 which Ben can provide to you at the clinic after assessment and modifications according to the patient needs.
Ben can also cast people up for customized devices that typically take one week to make and return.
You do get a rebate on private health extras, with both options, depending on your level of cover.
For a consultation with Podiatrist Ben Holland please contact Physioworks Cranbourne on 59951111.
About the Author: Ben Holland has been a podiatrist for the past 15 years, with extensive experience at the elite sports level. Ben Holland is a passionate sports podiatrist, specialising in lower limb sports injury treatment, biomechanical analysis and injury prevention. Ben Holland consults at Physioworks Cranbourne.