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Pain&Mobility Clinic

Why you do not need Orthotics

06/02/2019 by ZZaman

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you have been told the following;

i) You have flat feet and need to wear orthotics..
ii) You must wear supportive shoes as a preventative measure ..
iii) You have aches and pains in other parts of your body that have gone undiagnosed and is down to your age..

If you have answered yes to one or all of them then you are most likely caught in an industry that is built on trying to treat foot pain or dysfunction than get to the root cause and prevent it.

You are told constantly that your foot, knee and hip pain is due to lack of ‘support’, and that your arches are not properly ‘maintained’ and so you should insert arch supports. These products are full of promises that they will help decrease the pain you are experiencing whilst improving comfort through features like; heel cups, cushioning, orthotics, padding, etc. However, these features to a large extent are likely to contribute to the cause rather than help fix it.

You might have seen ads about back braces and how they are becoming a phenomenon of late for postural correction. Yet there remains skepticism in the medical field that this can lead to muscles in the low back to weaken over time due to passive and not active use. At times, leading to stiffness, heaviness or a dull ache as maintaining this for long periods is not natural. As such, if we apply the same theory above, do the feet need arch ‘support’?

There is a common mistake that we become super eager to buy shoes as early as we are born. Let’s go far back to when the human were created many, many years ago and compare that to the modest estimation according to archeological evidence that shoes were invented 25,000 years ago this is a modest blip in history and as such shoes are a relative new phenomena. This would make the usage of shoes new and yet not tried and tested. From this we should not be in a rush to find ‘supports’ for dropped arches or take a label by healthcare practitioners as true. Your first shoes are your feet, and if you take care of them, they will last you a lifetime.

An integral part of the body is movement it forms a crucial part of our human life especially as bipeds. Each foot-ground interaction we make sends sensory feedback to the brain to take the next step, evenly distribute weight, balance and remain stable (by no means exhaustive). But, we find that most modern shoes are pretty rigid, restrictive in places and most definitely do not follow the shape of our feet, restricting important sensory feedback resulting in poor movement.

What is interesting is a study conducted showed that those wearing closed toe-shoes before the age of six (is this becoming a trend?) had a higher chance of having flat feet compared to those began wearing shoes after the age of six. Furthermore the study found that shoes can restrict the natural motion and interaction bare feet have if the toes are not sprawled out but are squashed together. 

Some studies suggest that habitual use of footwear can cause pathological changes, take sports footwear for example, a recent introduction in the 70s. Things such as cushioned heels, high arches and padding have been in development since. How many do you see wearing sports shoes as their normal day-to-day wear?

Case Study

A client came to our pain and mobility clinic presenting with of knee and hip pain, and diagnosed with pronation of their left foot.

Pronation is a common biomechanical problem that occurs in people where the foot or feet are flat and frequently occurs when walking. A person’s arch collapses and causes uneven distribution of the bodies weight, which can cause stress or inflammation to the plantar fascia, which is a fibrous tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot connecting your heel bone to your toes. So if you have ever experienced pain in the foot this could be one cause that leads to mid to severe discomfort and other foot problems. We see this frequent in our pain and mobility clinic.

Our client came to us after being treated by chiropractors, chiropodists and other healthcare professionals with no relief. This client informed us that after running many tests including computer aided technology she was diagnosed with pronated feet, and would need to wear orthotics for the rest of her live to prevent knee and hip pain.

Our method of Advanced Biostructural Corrections works on the premise that the body works as a single synchronous functioning unit, you cannot treat an area of the body on its own, it has to work together and at the same time without affecting somewhere else in the body.

Though the healthcare practitioner was correct that this can cause issues in the knee and hips but it may also affect higher up in the lower back also. The biomechanics changes are a result of the increased arch in the shoe not withstanding the added constriction, cushioned heel and many other features resulting in misalignment and pain.

When clients come to our pain and mobility clinic we work closely with them and guide them through making the appropriate changes to prevent any future injuries previously sustained prior to Advanced Biostrucutural Correction care. As such removing the orthotics and going barefoot has helped tremendously, the client does not complain about hip pain anymore!

When clients go barefoot, the impact this has on sensory feedback from the foot is exponential, the nervous system serves to function better, as it is able to adapt to the variables when walking on different surfaces. This improves the control of motor function and balance. Another important change that happens in the stimulation of nerves endings in the foot, increased circulatory flow, better alignment and increased muscular strength. Discarding constrictive shoes has never been more satisfying!

Another example of active colleague who would run 5 miles very often and placed health as high priority. Often she would complain of foot pain, she would carry different shoes in her bag depending on how her feet or legs felt at any particular time, no surprise on inspection of her shoes her arches were high and heels overly cushioned!

As a result at any given time when the body is not working to its full capacity will have an effect on body alignment and can cause pain somewhere in the body. In other words when footwear is not constrictive and spacious sensory feedback increases to the brain which also increases feedback in the ankles, knees, legs and hips. It’s important that a degree of movement can cause this effect, so any time spent barefoot is better than none, for some any type of shoe is not an option, if they want to move pain free and mobile.

If you have worn orthotics for a long time the first thing to do is train your feet and remove orthotics, as your feet are and will be the best functioning shoes you can ever own.

Tips

Next time you find yourself out shopping for new shoes then consider the following;

a) are these shoes flat enough and have a wide enough toe box?
b) consider the height of heels, each person is different but an inch or two is a general rule to follow, any higher the body will pitch your body forward creating instability.
c) are the heels lower than the arch?

To weigh in the above ditching constricting shoes and going barefoot has its benefits, we personally own a pair of vivo barefoot shoes.  If you are interested in learning more about Advanced Biostructural Correction why not schedule a complimentary call with our practitioner to see if we can help you.

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