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Biomechanics & Orthotics

What are Orthotics?

Orthotics are devices developed by podiatrists to correct postural problems with the lower leg. They sit inside your shoe and assist with foot posture and force distribution through the feet. They can be particularly useful in cases of foot pain, knee pain, hip pain, and arthritis. They can also be used to correct postural deficiencies while walking and running.

Orthotics can be composed of a huge variety of materials from rigid plastics or carbon-fibre composites, through to extremely soft rubber-like materials.

What is Biomechanics?

Many conditions treated by orthotics may be related to a problem with a patient’s biomechanics. We use the word biomechanics to describe the way that the body moves. It also describes the forces that are placed upon the various parts of the body; especially the bones, muscles, and tendons. The feet are our contact to the ground. As such they are required to cushion the force of the body through each step we take.

Common Biomechanics Concerns

Everybody is different. Each pair of feet has a different ability to cope with the physical demands placed upon them by the body. One common biomechanical concern can come from feet that are excessively flat.

Another concern comes from feet that have a tendency to roll inwards (pronate). This movement can cause the alignment of the foot, ankle, knee, and hip to function differently. As a result, any one of those structures may experience pain.

Orthotics may assist in realigning the foot and prevent that excessive motion.

Who may require Orthotics?

Athletes and People Who Play Sport Regularly

Activities like running can put the equivalent of five times the amount of body weight through the feet. If the biomechanics of the foot aren’t sound, the weight will need to be redistributed to another part of the foot. This other part of the foot may not be equipped to handle the higher load.

Poor biomechanics may require a particular muscle to work twice as hard to keep the body upright and moving. Orthotics are one method of correcting faulty biomechanics. They can hold the foot in a better position, and provide an even weight distribution through the foot.

Occupations Where Extensive Standing and Movement is Required

People spending large amounts of time on their feet may struggle to manage long periods of standing time. Occupations such as nurses, police officers, hairdressers, teachers, homemakers, and those in the retail and hospitality industries are just a few roles that tend to find benefit from having additional support.

People with Specific Medical Conditions

Orthotics can also be useful to treat patients with conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. These conditions can cause the foot to change shape and as such, place additional pressure on joints or locations that may not be able to cope with the additional force.

As a result, high-pressure areas can develop into hard calluses or corns, and if left untreated, may ultimately become an ulcer. Orthotics can help to offload or avoid the high-pressure areas, as well as provide cushioning.

Why would I need them?

Orthotics can useful to treat patients with conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis. These conditions can cause the foot to change shape and as such place additional pressure on joints or locations that may not be able to cope with the additional force.

As a result, high pressure areas can develop into hard callus or corns, and if left may ultimately become an ulcer. Orthotics can help to offload or avoid the high pressure areas, as well as provide cushioning.

Standard shaped orthotics can be purchased “over the counter” from a chemist or specialty shoe shop, while custom-made ones can be created from a scan or cast taken by a podiatrist. Over the counter orthotics are often cheaper, as they are created from a one size fits all shape. The size might not be appropriate, depending on your foot.

Custom made devices have the advantage of being shaped to the individual contour of your feet, as well as have the ability to customise the additions and changes required to remedy your specific concern.

What to Expect from Your Podiatrist Appointment

A discussion and assessment with your podiatrist Brisbane will determine if orthotics may be beneficial for your particular concern. After an examination and scan of your feet have been taken, you will have your new custom-made orthotics provided to you within a week. Keep in mind that it takes time to break in orthotics. We will also conduct a review after 4 weeks to see if your happy with your new orthotics.

Things to Keep in Mind While Wearing Orthotics

It Can Take Time to Adjust

Patients will respond differently to a new pair of orthotics. Some patients can settle into a new set of orthotics with little to no discomfort.

Others will take a few weeks to find comfort in their new devices. Generally, orthotics take time to break in.

Mild Lower Leg Fatigue

Mild fatigue of the muscles in the lower leg can be expected within the first few days of wearing orthotics.

The reason for this is that the position of the foot is usually altered slightly, and the leg muscles are required to adjust to the new position.

Orthotics Should Not Cause You Pain

At no stage should a new pair of orthotics cause pain. If you find that your orthotics cause more than a mild discomfort to your feet or lower leg, it is recommended that you cease wearing them and contact your podiatrist as soon as possible.

Monitor the bottoms of your feet for signs of rubbing, especially throughout the arch. New orthotic materials can sometimes take time to compress. Always let your podiatrist know if your orthotics cause blistering or pain.

Wear Them More Often Over Time

As a general rule, it is recommended to gradually increase the time that your orthotics are worn over the first week or two. A good method involves wearing them for one hour of weight-bearing on the first day and increasing that time by approximately one hour every day following. At this rate, you should be spending a full day in your orthotics after the first week.

Review Appointment

When obtaining orthotics Brisbane wide, your podiatrist will schedule a review appointment after 4 weeks of wearing your orthotics. This appointment is very important to ensure that they are providing the benefit that they are designed for.

Podiatrist Brisbane – Biomechanics & Orthotics Resources

Orthotics are the best tool you could have to improve the comfort and functionality of your feet for years to come. Click through to our links below to see our full range of resources giving you further insights and information about biomechanics, orthotics and general foot health.

Ideal Footwear Characteristics

Shoe Size Explained

Shoe Laces Explained

Barefoot Running

Choosing the Right Footy Boot

If you’re looking for a podiatrist Brisbane wide with extensive knowledge and experience with biomechanics and orthotics, you have come to the right place. Call Pivotal Motion Podiatry on 07 3352 5116 or book an appointment online.