Posts for: August, 2016
Throughout August, we have talked about different types of orthotics, but let’s concentrate today just a little on over-the-counter insoles, which are so readily available you can pick them up with your weekly groceries. First of all, it’s important to know that there is a subtle difference between insoles and orthotics. Orthotics are generally made of a stiff material and are designed to support the foot. Insoles are designed primarily for cushion and offer limited support while adding comfort instead. Over-the-counter insoles are often advertized as orthotics when they really aren’t. This is what leads to a lot of confusion and debate within the medical community.
On one side of the debate, the affordability and ease associated with acquiring OTC insoles makes them a great choice for those who want support or cushion, but can’t dig very far into their wallet. On the other side of the debate, many people are being taken in by the kiosk signs advertizing a “custom fit”, which is not at all custom. Buying something OTC that claims to be custom is a game of chance. Sometimes the OTC insole will provide exactly what you need and sometimes it may end up doing more damage than good.
Overall, Podiatrists will be on both sides of the fence. We at the FAAWC carry many styles of OTC insoles and can help you get the closest fit to your needs if custom orthotics aren’t necessary. We do however encourage you to book a visit with us for an evaluation before you head to your local superstore to pick up a pair. Just as we talked about accommodative versus functional orthotics, there are so many factors to consider when choosing an OTC insole that having your podiatrist there to lead you can be invaluable. At the very least, talk to your podiatrist about your needs and make the best choice for you. Just remember, knowledge is power and the more you know about your feet and what they need, the better your decision making power will be.
Last week we talked about Functional Orthotics, which are designed to align your foot so it functions in an efficient and healthy motion. Accommodative orthotics are somewhat different, so let’s take a look…
Accommodative orthotics do exactly what they say, they accommodate the foot as it is rather than changing it. Some foot deformities are considered “rigid”, meaning they are something we have to work around, not correct. Examples of these include high arches, flat feet, and diabetic ulcerations. These orthotics allow for pressure alleviation on sensitive areas by redistributing body weight and provide support to decrease pain.
Just like functional orthotics, these are custom molded in our office and will arrive back within a week or so. The materials used for accommodative orthotics vary between plastic, EVA, multi-cork, neoprene, or even viscoelastic gel. If you are in need of an accommodative orthotic, it’s very important that this be custom molded to you. Use of an over-the-counter functional orthotic when you really need an accommodative orthotic can actually do more harm than good.
I will be the first to admit that I am a proud person and sometimes have trouble asking for help when I need it. I’m sure you know people who are like this or maybe you are one yourself, but you may not realize that almost everyone takes this same attitude toward their foot health. Sometimes our feet need a helping hand or in a lot of cases a helping orthotic. Orthotics come in many varieties, but two terms you will hear are “functional” orthotics and “accommodative” orthotics. For today, we are going to look at functional orthotics.
A functional orthotic is exactly what it sounds like; the orthotic helps your foot function in a normal fashion. Not many people have a perfect foot strike. That means that most of us, often without our knowledge, don’t walk perfectly upright with an even distribution of weight around the foot. Issues like these can lead to all sorts of ailments such as flat feet, high arches, bunions, plantar fasciitis, and neuromas. If you have one of these conditions, your podiatrist may recommend a custom molded orthotic.
Let’s talk for a short second about custom versus generic orthotics. Whenever consumers hear the word “custom” they automatically associate it with “expensive”. Sadly, this is often true. The FAAWC carries a wide variety of generic orthotics and we will always steer you toward that option first if we can. Not all foot problems can be helped with something directly off the shelf, but if yours can, we can help you pick out the best size and shape for you and your problems.
The whole idea behind a functional orthotic is that it places your foot in a more natural position where the tendons and muscles and ligaments are aligned for maximum efficiency and comfort. If you have a high arch, the orthotic will fill in the gaps and help your foot strike the ground evenly. Do you overpronate? An orthotic can help turn your foot to the correct positioning and avoid uncomfortable things like bunions. Functional orthotics are designed to make your foot act exactly as it should under ideal circumstances. And after all, don’t we all want to perform at our best?
The molding process is easy; all you have to do is stand up in a box filled with blue foam and your exact foot map will be created. Most custom orthotics will arrive within a week, which means you will be on your way to better foot health in no time. Isn’t that what we all want in the end?
Stay tuned next week to hear about accommodative orthotics!
Everyone loves new shoes and if you’re in the market for a pair, there are a few things you should be doing at the shoe store to make sure they fit properly and your podiatrist would approve.
- Stand Up
Everyone tells you to stand up at the shoe store and hopefully everyone does, but the main reason we want to do this is that our foot widens and lengthens slightly when we stand up. Force is calculated as mass x acceleration. When you stand up, the force that your body exerts on your feet causes them to change. Your toes extend forward and spread to support you while walking. If we don't give them enough room to do this, we can cause serious damage.
- Walk Around
Think about the activity you will be doing in your new pair of shoes. Perhaps it’s a fancy pair of high heels for a wedding. You’ll probably be sitting, standing, and dancing in these shoes all night, so you should stand up and wander around the store for ten minutes to make sure they are comfortable; maybe even break out a move or two. If it’s a new running shoe you need, go to a store with actual clerks who can evaluate your stride and help you pick a style. Places like the New Balance Store are set up to allow customers to easily jog around the store while trying on shoes. Whenever your style, make sure you get up and walk, jog, or boogie in those new shoes before heading to the checkout.
- Spread Your Toes
For those who may not remember, there are a myriad of problems we can get from our shoes cramping our toes. Bunions, corns, hammertoes, and ingrown toenails may be in your future if you don’t give your little piggies space to move. Many shoes come in multiple sizes, but not multiple widths. Get your foot width measured along with the length. If you have a wider foot, search for shoes that will accommodate you. Don’t try and fit into the average when you need something different.