What Are Orthotics And How Can They Help?
February 7th, 2022 by Catherine Marqueses
Some people balk at the idea of getting an orthotic in their shoe. They’re seen as a kind of strange medical interference in your otherwise stylish and beloved footwear. The fact is, however, that orthotic friendly shoes give you the stability and support that you need to help solve an entire range of physical health problems.
Aren’t orthotics just shoe inserts? Besides making your feet a bit more comfortable, what other health problems could they possibly be fixing? Actually, orthotics can help with a huge range of problems, which we’ll explore in more detail below.
Table of Contents
High Foot Arches
It makes sense to start with the foot issues. Did you know that the shape of your foot arch not only impacts the comfort of your feet when you’re in footwear, but also other parts of your body, namely the knee, shins and others. A well-placed orthotic ensures that your foot is properly supported and not rolling outward — supinating — too much, which can cause pain to transmit from your foot to the other parts of your body we just mentioned.
This refers to a foot condition that is basically the opposite of high foot arches. The problem of “flat feet” describes a foot that has arches which are very low. When you have this problem, it’s easier for you to suffer from pain in your feet, ankles and even your lower back. Some orthotics are designed to provide your feet with a natural-feeling arch, which in turn helps to resolve these issues.
Bunions and Other Deformities
Those who suffer with bunions know what real foot agony can be. Bunions begin forming at the base joint of the big toe when some of the bones have moved out of place. A protrusion forms that becomes painful and also causes your footwear to fit improperly. The main way that an orthotic helps this kind of problem is by creating a wide toe box which takes the pressure off of your big toe and can actually slow down the development of the bunion, too.
Bunions can also lead to conditions like hammertoe (aka mallet toe/foot) which is a condition where one or more toes starts to look bent upward from the middle, almost like fingers trying to play the piano or type on a keyboard. This causes tremendous discomfort as the tops of your toes might be now rubbing on your footwear. Orthotics are not a cure for hammertoe, but can at least help to relieve some of the discomfort.
Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can negatively affect your feet, causing swelling, pain, stiffness and more. In essence, it can feel like no matter what position you get your feet into, there is just discomfort and misery. Orthotics help to correct that issue by repositioning your feet to make both standing and walking not just bearable again, but actually more comfortable.
Your plantar fascia is an important part of your feet — not that there are many, if any, unimportant parts — which runs from the heel bone to your toes. It’s a tissue band that will cause significant pain and discomfort if it becomes inflamed; a condition known as plantar fasciitis. An orthotic will better support your heel when you have this condition, which can relieve the pain until the condition improves.
Finally, when your feet are poorly aligned and positioned, the pain and discomfort created can be transmitted as far as your back, and your other joints, too, especially the knees and hips. Orthotics have the primary function of correcting that foot position and thus realigning your entire body. Many have experienced almost immediate changes to their physical condition based on the insertion of a humble orthotic into their shoes.