Foot orthoses, or corrective insoles, are basically any material or device that sits under your foot and
changes the movement or function of your body. They can range from small pieces of felt, heel pads, and arch supports to large and firm insoles used to provide maximum effect. Even the thin insoles that come with shoes are technically orthoses, although their impact on your function would seem to be minimal.
Some experts in the field of biomechanics and human movement have argued that orthotics weaken the
feet or disrupt the bodies natural gait. Whilst there is no doubt that orthotics can change movement (and not always for the better) there is no evidence supporting the theory that they make feet weaker. Orthoses should not be prescribed without consideration as to what their effect will be and what other therapies can be used in conjunction with or instead of orthotic therapy. However, there are a number of situations where good orthotics can really be a game changer!
As a quick fire to reduce damaging loads on injured structures around the foot and ankle – think about a situation where you had an injured tendon in your foot. Whilst rest and rehab are key, the correct use of padding and support under your foot can shift pressure to an uninjured part of your foot thus aiding healing.
As a way of controlling loads of problematic lesions like corns and blisters – trying to adjust your walking to keep pressure off a sore corn can lead to undesired compensatory movements. Insoles can provide a more passive effect through relieving pressure allowing you to walk normally.
As a way of improving fit and comfort underfoot. In you have wide, high arched, or narrow feet finding suitable shoes can be a big problem. A well designed orthotic will fit the foot and a range of shoes helping the feet to feel happy whatever footwear they are in.
As a tool to promote desired movement patterns in the foot and ankle – think about a situation where we are trying to improve your ability to drive through the big toe to improve your running form. We can encourage this using orthoses, in conjunction with exercise therapy to build the connection to improve your movement.
When making custom orthotics I digitally scan your feet and use design software to produce a highly accurate insole with the desired features built in. I primarily prescribe semi-rigid orthoses manufactured by Paromed, that provide adequate support and durability whilst remaining tolerable and comfortable underfoot. For those requiring rigid devices I can also prescribe these which are 3D printed by Motion X labs.
The benefit of working with a professional like myself is that we can always tweak and adjust any correction as you or your goals change. I recommend reviewing your othoses at least every year as both your feet and the devises will change over time.
Thanks for reading and if you have any questions about orthoses, feet or podiatry feel free to contact me.