Today’s world is full of a lot of different health care advice, especially relative to your feet: wear these shoes, don’t do this, try this therapy, etc. In an effort to help guide your walk through your health care journey – pun intended! – Laura, Canadian Certified Pedorthist and orthotic specialist, is going to debunk 5 myths that you may have heard about custom made orthotics.
Myth #1: All footwear inserts are the same
No way! There are over the counter insoles and custom orthotics. Over the counter insoles come in an array of materials – from gel cushioning to moderate support. Custom orthotics are made specific to you and materials are chosen based on a variety of factors. Not everyone needs custom, and not everyone can get by with over the counter. Laura is happy to assess you and determine which route is best for your needs.
Myth #2: All providers are the same
Definitely not. These days it seems that there is someone offering custom orthotics on every corner: chiropodists, chiropractors, cruise ships salespeople, Costco employees. Canadian Certified Pedorthists are trained specifically in the manufacturing process of the orthotics, allowing us to make onsite adjustments if necessary and a true custom made device. If you aren’t offered a full indepth lower body assessment and gait analysis, the provider is probably not offering the best orthotic out there.
Myth #3: You can only wear your orthotics in one pair of shoes
This could not be further from the truth! If a provider tells you that you must purchase multiple pairs of orthotics or footwear (or is throwing them in for free), you likely aren’t seeing a legitimate orthotic professional. One pair of orthotics should be able to move around from shoe to shoe fairly easily. Yes, you may need a different style of orthotic for your high heels versus your running shoe, but for the most part the orthotics are versatile enough to fit the majority of the shoes in your closet.
Myth #4: Orthotics only help with foot pain
False. Yes, orthotics help with pain in your heels, balls of the feet and arches BUT did you know they can relieve pressure further up the kinetic chain as well? Osteoarthritis in the knees and ankles, lower back pain when standing or walking and pain through the hips can all be addressed with a custom orthotic to change how you are walking.
Myth #5: If I get orthotics I don’t have to do physiotherapy, chiropractic, osteopathy, etc.
Not true! Depending on the condition, you will likely see the best results if you use your orthotics in combination with one of these types of therapy. In fact, Laura generally suggests one of these providers to visit to get you feeling your best in the shortest about of time. Typically speaking, the pain you are feeling is caused by a poor walking pattern which has caused an imbalance of forces or muscle development elsewhere. If we can correct how you walk and simultaneously work on evening out these imbalances, your healing time is much quicker.
If you would like a no-obligation assessment to discuss your needs please call your nearest clinic.
It's finally August and whether you are in the peak of your running program or just getting started for a fall race, here are 5 common running injuries and what you can do to prevent them.
1. Shin splints
Many people who dive right in to their running program will develop at least a mild case of shin splints. Typically caused by overpronation, unsupportive running shoes or hard surfaces such as concrete, you can avoid this pain by easing into your running regime and starting out on softer surfaces such as trails. If the pain persists, it may be necessary to look at more supportive footwear or even orthotics to correct biomechanics.
2. Knee pain
Knee pain can develop for a variety of reasons: limited shock absorption, worn out footwear, muscle imbalances, overpronation or oversupination or osteoarthritis. Medial knee is especially common in road runners. Don't forget to switch sides of the street to avoid having the grade of the pavement affect your joints.
3. Forefoot pain
Especially in forefoot strikers, people who spend a lot of time on the balls of their feet may be apt to have achiness, tingling or even numbness. Sometimes the metatarsal arch (across the balls of the feet) will drop allowing for increased pressure. An orthotic that can support this arch may be beneficial to decrease pressures.
4. Achilles tendonitis
Common in people who have hill training as part of their training program, the Achilles' tendon can become irritated if running on an incline for too long, too soon. Make sure to ease into this type of training to avoid inflammation at the back of your heel or possible rupture. Orthotics with heel lifts as well as running shoes with a higher heel to ball ratio can help reduce tension on the Achilles' tendons.
5. Plantar fasciitis
Heel pain is common in many people (not just runners!) but unfortunately, forces are exaggerated when we run. The plantar fascia is designed to absorb shock by acting like a spring, or reduce how much pronation there is. If it isn't doing either of these, it can get inflamed at its origin - causing excruciating pain. Supportive footwear, ice and stretching as well as custom orthotics have been successful in many plantar fasciitis cases.
If you are experiencing any of these conditions and would like a pedorthist's point of view on the best treatment plan for you please do not hesitate to call 519-787-8111 to book an appointment with Laura.
Sandal season is officially here! Make sure that your summer footwear is appropriate for your activities and not going to cause you pain in the long run. Here are 5 things to look for in sandals:
1. Heel strap – holding your heel in place is going to reduce the stress on your toes (because they don’t have to hold on for dear life!) and limit friction that can cause excessive callusing
2. Higher heel to ball ratio – flat sandals like thong flip flops allow for tissues to be stretched and overused and typically don’t protect the bottom of your foot like a thicker sole does
3. Built in arch support – sandals such as Mephistos and Vionics have great built in arches that provide more support than your average sandal
4. Torsional stability – you shouldn’t be able to fold your sandal in half, so look for something that has some rigidity to it to reduce excessive movement through your foot that can fatigue tissues quickly
5. Removeable insole – if you wear custom orthotics you aren’t stuck in shoes all summer! Look for something that the insole can come out of (like a Finn Comfort or Naot) so you can wear the orthotic in your sandals as well
If you experience foot or knee pain you may have been referred to a Canadian Certified Pedorthist from your family doctor to see if custom made orthotics are beneficial for you. I am frequently asked what happens during the process of manufacturing the custom orthotics.
From start to finish, a pair of custom orthotics can take anywhere from 3-5 hours to make. After a complete biomechanical and gait analysis, a 3-dimensional mould of your feet are taken. At Align Pedorthics we use most commonly use a foambox cast. This is essentially the most important part of the process so sometimes 3-4 moulds will be taken in order to ensure the proper foot position.
The mould is filled with plaster, which when dry, will give us a replication of your feet to build the orthotics off of. Once the moulds are cleaned and smoothed out, the shell of the orthotic is made. The raw material (which can be plastic, EVA, cork, etc). is heated in the oven until completely flexible. It is vacuum pressed to the foot mould to give us an exact duplication of your arch. This shell is then cut down and shaped using a grinder. Materials of different densities and thicknesses are added to the shell in order give the appropriate amount of support for the person’s needs.
Making a pair of orthotics can take a lot of time and precision. Sometimes comfort is a matter of only a few millimeters or degrees so grinding takes a lot of skill. A major difference between pedorthists and other health care practitioners offering orthotics is the knowledge of the manufacturing process and how to make modifications when necessary.
If you are wondering if you could benefit from custom made orthotics, please do not hesitate to book a pedorthic assessment at 519-787-8111 or click here for online scheduling.
Although this freezing cold weather makes it hard to believe, spring will actually be here before we know it! (...or that’s just my wishful thinking!)
This means that we will start to come out of hibernation and start to love the outdoors again. As a pedorthist, spring means an influx of running injuries, one of the most common being shin splints. Many runners (new and experienced) hit the pavement with the intent of running as far as they can since the sunny and balmy weather has finally allowed them to do so. This often results in a condition called Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome – or shin splints.
Shin splints are typically the inflammation of the connective tissue that attaches the muscles of the lower leg to your lower leg bone (tibia). Many people experience them after high impact exercises such as running, basketball, or hill training.
Simply put: there is a muscle that starts on the inside of your lower leg and inserts on the bottom of your foot (posterior tibialis). This muscle helps to absorb shock by raising and lowering the arch of your foot. If it isn’t working properly, the muscle on the front of your lower leg (anterior tibialis) starts to take over. This muscle is very small and fatigues quite easily. If it is overworked, it will become very sore during your activity and probably the days to follow.
What custom made foot orthotics do is allow your muscles to not work quite as hard. If your posterior tibialis isn’t working to absorb shock properly, the orthotic can do that for you. In this situation the orthotic is designed to bend and flex under your body weight to mimic what the muscle is supposed to do. This allows the anterior tibialis to only work as much as it’s supposed to so that it doesn’t become overworked and sore.
Other treatment options include:
· Activity appropriate footwear
· Stretching and icing
· Gradual increase in activity level
If this is something you suffer from, please do not hesitate to call the clinic (519-787-8111) or book an appointment here to see how we can help.
Now that the busy holiday season has come to an end, it’s time to focus on yourself again! The holidays are an extremely busy time of the year and often we forget to take care of ourselves. Here are some things that you can do to maintain your foot health during these chilly winter months:
Wear appropriate footwear!
This means weather appropriate but also activity appropriate. Often times we think we are just quickly running out to the car and we are out of the wet and cold. What we don’t realize is that if our feet get wet and don’t have the space to dry thoroughly, we are more susceptible to soft corns between the toes which can be extremely painful. Also, we need to make sure we are in supportive shoes for even short bursts of activity, such as shoveling snow, since many times this overexertion can cause injury to unsupported tissues in the feet.
The frosty winter weather usually makes us want to cuddle up on the couch and not move very far. However, by staying active through these months we will maintain the strength and flexibility we developed in the spring and summer months. By doing this, the muscles and tendons won’t go into shock when you suddenly decide to use them again – like when you go on your trip down south or when the spring weather rolls finally around.
Keep those feet bundled up.
This is especially important for people who suffer from poor circulation or diabetic neuropathies (loss of feeling). Make sure to wear thick socks and warm winter boots to prevent any chances of hypothermia. Often if there is already a lack of sensation in the toes and feet this may be pushed off as a “normal” feeling, but it’s extremely important to monitor temperature in these situations.
As always please do not hesitate to call or email if you have any questions or would like to book an appointment to see if custom orthotics may help you find comfort.
Laura Allen, C.Ped(C), B.A.Kin
Canadian Certified Pedorthist
I was recently asked “Do you do custom orthotics for children?” My answer in one word: “Rarely.”
If you look at most infant and young children’s feet you will notice that they have flat feet! What many people do not know is that children typically do not develop arches until between the ages of 4 to 6 years old. Until this age, the ligaments and tendons have not fully developed and grown into their fully functioning size and strength, giving the appearance of a flat arch.
Typically in this situation, the child has not complained of any pain yet the parent is concerned about “normal” development – but this is normal! In this case, I would not do a custom orthotics device, or even recommend an over-the-counter insole, until after about age 6 or until the child complains about pain, which may be never!
However, there are cases where non-surgical intervention may be necessary. These are situations where it may be necessary to speak with a pedorthist about options for your child:
· Excessive shoe wear
· Tripping over his or her own feet
· Severe in-toeing or out-toeing
· Pain – in feet, ankle, knees, calves
· Decrease in activity level with no explanation
· Congenital deformity – such as club foot or metatarsus adductus
If you are concerned about your children’s development and would like an opinion on whether or not pedorthic treatment is necessary please do not hesitate to call 519-787-8111 or visit here to book an appointment.
Metarsalgia is a term that describes forefoot pain, or pain at the balls of your feet. This especially includes the 3 conditions of: Morton’s syndrome, Morton’s neuroma and metatarsal head pain.
This condition is when a person’s big toe is shorter than their second toe, causing the second toe to take on most of the pressure.
There are nerves that run between the long bones in the foot. When these nerves get compressed, they become enlarged and inflamed.
Metatarsal Head Pain
Sometimes the balls of the feet naturally have a higher amount of pressure under them, causing discomfort when standing for longer periods or during activity.
Custom Made Foot Orthotics
Along with the main arch in your foot (medial longitudinal arch) there is an arch that runs around the balls of your feet called the transverse or metatarsal arch. Custom orthotics can act to support both of these arches as they work together during weight bearing.
Custom orthotics can incorporate the following features:
Since footwear is a main cause of metatarsalgia, it is important to find a pair of shoes with appropriate features to relieve pain.
When shopping for shoes, keep an eye out for these features:
If you experience pain under the ball of your foot or numbness in your toes and would like to see how we can help please call 519-787-8111 or visit here to make an appointment.
Plantar fasciitis is probably the most common condition I see as a pedorthist, and in severe cases, extremely debilitating.
The plantar fascia is a thick band of tissue that starts on the bottom of your heel bone and inserts on metatarsal heads at the ball of your foot. This fascia acts to support the arch in the foot. If this tissue becomes irritated from overuse or other biomechanical irritation, small tears begin to form throughout the day. During periods of relaxation, such as overnight or sitting for long periods of time, these tears begin to heal and scar tissue is laid down like a bandaid. When you first stand after these periods of rest, the scar tissue tears from the heel bone causing extreme pain with the first few steps, and the cycle begins again through the day. This is, in a nutshell, plantar fasciitis.
A custom made foot orthotic acts to limit certain movements in the foot and promotes others in order to offload the plantar fascia so that it can heal properly. For example, if someone pronates excessively during their gait, the orthotic acts to limit that rolling in movement so that the fascia doesn't pull from the heel like it naturally wants to.
In many situations, the orthotic is worn as much as possible until the plantar fascia is fully healed and then can be worn less and less, much like a splint.
There are many reasons that plantar fasciitis may develop but these are some of the most common:
Other treatment options in combination with custom orthotics can lead to quicker relief:
It is important to act quickly when you experience these types of symptoms. More often than not I see people who have been dealing with this pain for months, hoping that it will naturally go away. In many cases, the orthotic is relatively quick in relieving pain if caught relatively early.
If you experience heel pain please don’t hesitate to call 519-787-8111 or visit here to make an appointment to see how a pedorthist and custom orthotics can help.
Laura Van den Borre,