Orthotics, otherwise known as insoles, are inserts which fit into your shoe to provide corrective support. Orthotics can be temporary or permanent, aiming to restore balance and improve foot function.
How do orthotics work?
The purpose of orthotics is to alter the way that you load certain tissues and joints, both in a static posture but also dynamically. They can either offload, stimulate or support. They offload by removing pressure from structures within the foot which are causing pain.
They stimulate by working to switch on certain tissues to improve the foots ability to provide its own support or where it is not possible for the foot to provide this support, the orthotic is an external method of support.
As a result, orthotics can reduce pain, improve balance and stability in the foot and ankle, and restore balance to the way in which the tissues in the lower limbs are loaded - from the foot up to the knees, hips/pelvis and lower back.
What are orthotics used for?
There are many situations where orthotics can be used:
Achilles tendon pain
Plantar fascia pain
Hallux valgus (bunions)
Pes planus (pronated feet / fallen arches)
Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction (PTTD)
Chronic ankle instability (often from recurrent sprains)
Medial knee pain
Patellofemoral pain syndrome
Lower back pain
In some instances, orthotics might be used for a set period of time whilst you undergo rehabilitation and as a means of symptomatic relief. In other situations, it may be recommended that you use your orthotics long term.
How do I know if I need orthotics?
Usually you will know that you need orthotics because they have been recommended to you by a medical practitioner; most likely a physiotherapist, podiatrist or your GP.
It may be suggested that you try a pre-fabricated type which provide generic support to your medial arches.
You may be advised that you require a custom made orthotic which provides support specifically for you and your foot size, shape and mobility. Custom orthotics are made using a variety of means, most commonly from a physical examination of your foot and observation of your foot posture, or from taking a plaster cast mould of your foot.
A better alternative?
While casted orthotics ensure the insole is the correct size for you, it is essentially a mirror of your footprint in a static position.
At Oxford Performance Clinic we believe that correcting your foot posture dynamically is as important, if not more important, than supporting the foots static posture. As such, we only provide custom made orthotics which are designed based on your dynamic foot posture, using a pressure plate. The pressure plate, containing over 4,000 pressure sensors, analyses the foots gait pattern and the way the foot is loaded. The orthotic is then built up to provide the foot with support where needed, offload any irritable structures within the foot and lower limb and improve the foots overall balance and control.