Although orthotics are a valuable addition to most individuals, the true value of an orthotic will be dependant on your foot type and the way you walk. Most individuals can be easily divided into one of 6 foot types, with the associated value of an orthotic discussed here:
What is an orthotic?
An orthotic is a specialized appliance, even a type of shoe insert, that is designed to improve the foot functioning. The foot is a complex structure that is designed to function in a complex coordination of muscles, joints, tendons and bones to produce walking (a combination of supination and pronation). When an orthotic (designed for your foot) is placed inside your shoe with full contact to the foot, it aligns the foot with the leg and causes optimum motion of the foot. Usually this improves the functioning of the foot and often eliminates pain from overuse of the tendons, muscles or joints.
To further understand the truth about orthotics, the anatomy of the orthotic must be understood.
Do I need orthotics?
Although orthotics can be beneficial to anyone, they are not necessary for everyone. Think of an orthotic like eye glasses monster: Although correctly designed eye glasses will make you see better (whether you need them or not), they are not required for everyone to see 20/20 (normal). Some people even see better than 20/20.
An orthotic is similar: Your feet can be optimized as the foot is not just supported, but placed in the optimum position (neutral) and supinates (rolls out to increase the arch) and pronates (rolls in or flattens the arch) just enough to allow the muscles, tendons and bones to function near perfectly. This reduces stress on bones, joints, tendons and even muscles to reduce fatigue and decrease discomfort or pain. If you are having pain, this is a great option. In fact, there are a couple quesitons you should answer to determine if you truly need orthotics:
By answering these questions, you have a better idea of if you (or your child) may need orthotics. By coming in and undergoing a comprehensive analysis, you will quickly learn whether you need orthotics and how they will help you. Eye glasses can make a big difference when needed. An orthotic can make the same difference for your feet.
Do my feet hurt?
Why do they hurt?
Is there a problem that can be addressed?
Is it a problem of padding? (Gel or foam insoles or pads will be sufficient to improve comfort)
Do I have foot deformities that cause pain? (What will address the deformity?)
Is the way I walk a reason for my pain?
Is this problem similar to what my parents, siblings or children have?