Most people have issues with their feet from years of postural adaptation. Sometimes you are born with it, other times you have experiences that accumulate to become part of your gait. For example, you stubbed your toe or sprained your ankle and started walking differently to compensate for the pain. You never went back and fixed it, and now it has become part of your gait.
Why is a Gait Dysfunction a Problem?
Various things can happen with your feet once this occurs. They can supinate (tilt out) or pronate (tilt in), they can rotate in or out, or your arches can become flat or more pronounced. All of these conditions contribute to pain in the feet that can travel to the low back, knees, and elsewhere in the body. Knee replacements are often needed from years of wear on the knee that is caused by foot dysfunctions. Typically, you will feel pain in your back first because the micro adjustments you are making in your feet translate into huge adjustments by the time they reach your back.
Plantar fasciitis is another common cause of foot discomfort. It involves inflammation of the tissue that runs across the bottom of your foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. It typically presents as a stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot near your heel. Plantar fasciitis is most commonly caused by micro-tears in the tissue that occur from strain and overuse.
What Can You Do About it?
Often times orthotics can correct the imbalances from the conditions discussed above. We are huge supporters of custom orthotics. They can range from $250-$300 each, but we prefer custom orthotics to store bought ones because we never see patients whose feet have the same imbalances. With store bought orthotics you will probably get one that works well for one foot, but not the other. Custom orthotics will make a huge difference because they will correct the position of both of your feet.
You might also have a functional leg length imbalance. This does not mean that your leg bones are different lengths, it simply means that the way your muscles and tendons are pulling is causing one leg to be shorter than the other. Store bought orthotics often have the same height and will not help with a functional leg length imbalance while custom ones will.
Why Custom Orthotics?
Custom orthotics are made from either a cast of your foot or a laser scan. They are designed to last, but you should not keep wearing them for ten years. Our patients often tell us they regularly wear a custom orthotics that were very expensive. When we ask how old it is and they say, “ten years old,” we advise them to get re-fitted. If orthotics are doing their job, your posture should change over a ten year period, and they will need to be re-fitted to remain effective.
Orthotics can be an expensive investment, but they are incredibly valuable. The days of the old hard plastic uncomfortable ones are over. The brand, Foot Levelers are incredibly comfortable. You can wear them in many different kinds of shoes. We have some female patients who even wear them in their high heels. We don’t generally recommend this, but it can, in fact, be done.
Don’t decide what kind of orthotics to get on your own. Go see a chiropractor, who can adjust your feet and then measure you and place an order. If you have any questions about orthotics, call us at (916) 488.4223 and ask to talk to our master therapist, Kym. Since we don’t sell orthotics at our practice, she can educate you with unbiased information to help you decide if orthotics are right for you.