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Orthotics are devices worn in shoes or runners and are designed to correct foot and ankle alignment. They can assist in changing pressure on certain parts of the foot, therefore relieving symptoms.
Orthotics assist in relieving foot and ankle pain, but also in relieving pain further up the kinetic chain, such as lower back.
Mechanical issues in the foot such as over pronation and increased ligament laxity, negatively affects how a person stands, walks and runs. The foot cannot provide effective support each time you step or stand. This in turn can lead to pain in any weight bearing joints such as knees, hips and the lower back. For example, over pronation (flat feet) leads the knees to turn in. In addition, further up the kinetic chain the femur will tend to rotate internally. This leads to abnormal loading and pressure on these joints, and poor muscle function and biomechanics. This is especially important when it comes to the gluteal muscles of the pelvis as they are one of the main stabilisers of the pelvis and lower back. If the gluts are not functioning effectively, this results in an unstable pelvis which in turn impacts stresses and sometimes alignment of the lumbar spine.
Orthotics help realign the foot and ankle joint and how the feet articulate on the ground. Orthotics restore symmetry and function to the lower extremities and improve biomechanics throughout the kinetic chain right up to the lower back. Muscle efficiency also improves, leading to decreased muscular fatigue, most importantly in the gluts. A more stable pelvis helps provide more support and stability to the lower back, which often reduces low back pain.
Another benefit is that orthotics help improve proprioception and spatial awareness. If the foot has an improved sense of its position in space, this will provide the rest of the body with improved proprioception and spatial awareness.
If you have been experiencing back, hip or knee pain brought on by walking or running, contact us here. Our physiotherapy manager Aileen MaGuire can assess and cast you for custom made or off the shelf orthotics if appropriate.