If you have been diagnosed with osteoarthritis, flat foot or plantar fasciitis or are recovering from an accident, you may have heard about the benefits of custom-made foot orthotics.
What is a custom foot orthotics?
This orthotic device is designed to align your foot and ankle in an anatomically efficient position so that you can move with less or no pain.
Custom foot orthotics are biomechanical medical devices that look like insoles. Biomechanics is the study of the body, the forces exerted by our muscles and the effect of gravity on the structure of the skeleton as a whole (which is why orthotics are considered biomechanical). Custom foot orthotics are used to reduce the strain on the body that occurs when our feet are misaligned. The orthotics realign each foot by diverting and decreasing the movements involved during the gait cycle (the sequence of activities when one foot touches the ground followed by the other to create movement). Because these insoles are customised, they are designed to correct the particular foot problems of the person for whom they are designed.
Types of insoles
You can create three types of custom-made insoles:
This type of foot orthosis is created to place the feet in more desirable positions so that the body can support its own weight to move properly in the least harmful way. Functional orthotics are made of rigid or semi-rigid materials.
An accommodative orthosis is designed to relieve the stress caused by arthritic conditions that put pressure on the joints and make the foot somewhat immobile. This type of brace is made of soft or semi-flexible materials.
If you have irregularly shaped feet such as flat feet, this is the type of orthotic for you as it is designed to help with stability, arch and heel support and forward movement.
the benefits of custom-made foot orthotics
Because custom-made foot orthotics are made from exact impressions of your feet, you should have no difficulty fitting them into your shoes. In addition, you won’t feel them when you walk, but you will experience the benefits of less stress on your joints and a stable gait.
The process of creating custom-made foot orthotics.
Step 1: Mould
The first step is to take a mould of your foot. To do this, a physiotherapist or orthotist will carefully examine your feet. The physiotherapist will treat and diagnose conditions of the feet, ankle and associated leg structures. During the foot examination, detailed measurements of your feet will be recorded. Your footwear will also be examined and questions about your lifestyle will be asked to determine your activity level. Casting is a method of creating orthotics, using a cast of your feet.
Step 2: Fabrication
The physiotherapist will send your cast with a prescription detailing the materials, dimensions and accessories to be used in the creation of your orthotics to an orthotic laboratory. Once at the lab, specialists will review your prescription and begin the manufacturing process. At the lab, your mold is made, a cover created from a comfortable but stable material is attached to the arch structure and heel of the biomechanical device.
Step 3: Materials
Custom orthotics consist of a rigid foundation and a cushioning shell. To create the rigid foundation, materials such as polypropylene (from the plastics family) or graphite are used because they are also quite flexible. The reason why the materials need to be rigid with some flexibility is so that they can withstand the irregular, injury-causing movements you make with your feet without hurting yourself when you walk. Next, the cushioning materials are added. These materials can be neoprene, silicone or ethylene vinyl acetate. When the brace is finished, it is returned to your physiotherapist’s office for collection.
How do I get custom-made foot orthotics?
In order to get your own pair of foot orthotics, you may need a prescription. If you are not currently seeing a physiotherapist for your foot problems, you can get a referral from your GP.
Custom-made foot orthotics are more expensive than traditional orthotics that you can buy in a pharmacy. However, having orthotics that fit your feet is priceless. You will be able to walk and exercise without pain and live your life to the full. Contact our team of physiotherapists to discuss custom-made foot orthotics to correct your foot misalignment problems.