As any architect, homebuilder, or structural engineer knows, every building needs a firm foundation. An unstable foundation can lead to cracks in walls, sticking doors, and—eventually—the potential collapse of the entire structure.
Well, your feet are the same way. They are the foundation of your body. And if your feet are unable to bear weight properly or move in a biomechanically efficient way due to structural flaws, significant complications can develop.
(We’re not just talking about heel pain and bunions here, but also knee pain, hip pain, back pain, balance problems, and more.)
Fortunately, these flaws can usually be corrected non-surgically, using tools called orthotics. These lightweight, flexible devices replace the ordinary insoles in your shoes and give your feet the exact support, cushioning, and balance they need to correct biomechanics and allow you to walk without pain.
Finding the Right Orthotics for You
Just as a pair of glasses with the wrong prescription won’t correct your vision, the wrong pair of orthotics isn’t going to do much good for your feet. Dr. Anthony Spitz can help you select an appropriate set of orthotics to match your needs.
Orthotics are made from a wide variety of different materials, and come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. That said, there are three main categories:
- Soft orthotics are primarily meant to add cushioning to the feet and reduce shock and shear forces. Although they don’t correct biomechanics as well as other types of orthotics, they can significantly reduce overall pain and pressure on the foot. They are ideal for conditions like foot ulcers, arthritis, and some deformities.
- Rigid orthotics are made from firm materials like plastic or carbon fiber. They are best for correcting severe structural misalignments or gait abnormalities. Although they might take a little more time to get used to, over time your corrected posture will mean significantly less pain. Most people wear them in walking shoes or dress shoes.
- Semi-rigid orthotics fall about halfway between rigid and soft orthotics. They tend to be made from firm-yet-flexible materials such as graphite, sometimes covered in extra padding. Semi-rigid orthotics are a great choice for those times you need some of the benefits of both types. Athletes, for example, require biomechanical correction, shock absorption, and flexibility from their orthotics in order to play their best without pain or injury.
Do You Need Custom Orthotics?
Orthotics do come in several prefabricated, standard sizes and shapes, but they can also be custom made and fit to your exact foot shape. Dr. Spitz provides both types at his office.
Prefabricated orthotics may be appropriate for relatively mild-to-moderate foot pain or abnormalities, if your foot shape is still fairly normal. They are also less expensive up front. If Dr. Spitz feels that a pair of prefabricated orthotics will be effective for you, he will provide you with the correct pair.
Custom fit orthotics are specially manufactured at a lab, using a mold of your feet that we take in the office. Because they fit your feet exactly and are built to specifications, they are able to treat a wider range of foot problems successfully. They also tend to last longer, due to being made from higher quality and adjustable materials.
After your custom orthotics return from the lab, you can come pick them up. We’ll make any final adjustments that may be necessary in the office to ensure a perfect fit.
Not everyone requires custom fit orthotics, but they are extremely valuable for those who do. Based on his evaluation of your feet and biomechanics, Dr. Spitz will review your options and help you make an informed choice.
Strengthen Your Foundation and Eliminate Pain
A significant percentage of foot conditions, as well as many instances of knee, hip, and back pain, can be at least partially caused by faulty foot mechanics.
In these cases, the correct pair of orthotics could be the long-term answer that allows you to live an active lifestyle without pain or restriction—all without surgery.