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Foot Orthotics

Orthotics: A Short Overview

Orthotics are devices used to correct and treat various foot disorders. They are used to correct imbalances and foot discomfort. A biomechanical complaint (walking imbalance) could be lower back pain, flat feet, pain in your heel, arch, Achilles, shin or knee.

The shoe inserts used for these treatments can be bought over the counter at almost any pharmacy or department store but since these products are used to realign your ankle and foot back into natural alignment, the best type of orthotics would be ones prepared for you by a podiatrist.

There are four types of orthotics when taking into consideration the structure of building these devices for the needs of adults and children: Rigid, Soft, Semi-rigid and Orthotics for Children.

Rigid Orthotics would be used primarily for the function of walking or standing a long time and may be constructed from plastic or some other form of hard material. The device normally is made in a type of mold that is in the shape of the patients’ foot and would encompass their foot when done from the heel to the ball.

Soft Orthotics are used to restore balance, absorb shock and help relieve pain from sore areas. A soft orthotic as its name states is usually constructed out of a soft, pliable material. Often an orthotic device of this nature will need to be replaced much more often than one made of rigid material, but a bonus is that it can be easily adjusted when needed. This type of orthotic is often used for those who have diabetes or those who have some form of foot malformation. soft orthotics are made
more ‘bulky’ in their formation and hence will take up more space in one’s shoes when used.

The Semi-rigid orthotic devices are used for those who are involved in sports primarily. For each athlete and for each sport that athlete is involved in, an individual orthotic is made of soft material with hard plastic placed in appropriate places to fit that individuals needs for that sport. For the athlete these types of orthotics allow the tendons to work more efficiently and allow the athlete to participate in a sport he enjoys without the pain he would normally experience.

Children who have foot malformations are usually put into a form of orthotic as early as possible to help clear up any problems when learning how to walk. Children usually need to have their feet ‘remolded’ and a new set of orthotics made for them once their shoe size has grown 2 sizes past their original orthotics size. The time needed for a child to wear an orthotic device is determined by each case and how severe the malformation is. Once an adult they will usually need to use orthotics for the duration of their lifetime to help retain their balance and keep them from having foot, ankle and back pains.

Article by Margo Prior.

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