Orthotics Douglas Young

How can foot orthoses help with injury?

How can foot orthoses help with injury? A couple of common fallacies to put to bed before we begin;

It’s a common misconception that orthoses will re-align your body to a neutral or straight position. Orthoses don’t always re-align to “neutral” position (see image). Sometimes the subtleties of foot orthosis function are small adjustments to the function of the foot.

Pronation of your foot is not a bad thing. It’s something that is supposed to happen. Sometimes it can happen too quickly, too often and too much for lots of different reasons and presents itself as many different symptoms.

How can foot orthoses help with injury?

(Image courtesy of Sports Podiatry Info)

Moving on, foot orthoses function on the principle that the orthosis influences internal forces by manipulating the external ones. Causing reduced loading of injured structures to facilitate healing (usually alongside other therapies/ exercise plans). This theory of manipulating tissue stress was described in 1995 by McPoil and Hunt and is suggested to have surpassed the original Root Theory (see article here http://www.podiatrytoday.com/prescribing-orthoses-has-tissue-stress-theory-supplanted-root-theory). This is a huge topic of debate and some principles are still shared between the different theories on foot function and prescription of foot orthoses.

Now, foot orthoses don’t have to be long term and they don’t have to be expensive. A foot orthosis can be an adjunct to other therapy. It can be used to help offload an injured structure, and then be removed on recovery with a good exercise plan to strengthen the structure after healing. My belief is that some structural foot problems may require a longer term use of an orthosis in cases where a constant harmful load will be applied e.g. in a particular sport. This is to maintain the balance of what may be harmful forces in the longer term.

Everybody is different, from the shape and alignment of their body, to the jobs we do and the activities/ hobbies we undertake and how much we do them. Balancing all of this is a difficult process. Running/cycling/swimming/team sports and the rest are all activities we do for enjoyment and wellbeing so we do often push ourselves to do them when we can. We fit them in around work and family time. Recently, I’ve found myself overloading on certain days because it’s the only time I can fit training in. Knowing that I’ve got to balance my efforts to sustain performance in different sessions and to reduce the risk of overload and possible injury is not easy!

Having a shoe that is comfortable and works alongside the foot orthosis is crucial for the maximum effect. Having a shoe that does not allow the orthosis to work to its potential will undoubtedly not give the best effect and result. Footwear for work can be as important as the footwear we use for sport. A lot of us spend too much time at work and on our feet and therefore the shoes we wear for this should be up to the task!

The main points to take away;
• Foot orthoses can be used to reduce harmful loads on the body
• Understanding of what a foot orthosis does has evolved and we shouldn’t dwell on making something straight
• Understanding the loads you apply to your body, through work and play, can help you balance it
• Foot orthoses are not always forever and can work alongside your other therapy
• Footwear is important and comfort is key

For more information please check out our website Baxter Young Orthotics.

Thanks for reading.

Doug Young
Owner Baxter Young Orthotics


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