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Feet: Their Importance and the Benefits of Orthotics

Our feet are incredible structures that often go unnoticed and underappreciated. The American Podiatric Medical Association states that the average person takes 8,000 to 10,000 steps daily, which amounts to about 115,000 miles in a lifetime. To put this into perspective, that is more than four times the globe's circumference! With every step we take, our feet support the weight of our bodies and undergo immense forces. It is no wonder that foot problems and dysfunctions are so common in our population.

Our feet are more than just a collection of bones and muscles. They are complex structures that involve 52 bones, 33 joints, over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments. These components work together to not only allow us to walk and run but also to provide balance and proprioception. Proprioception, or our position sense, allows our bodies to adjust and adapt to our environment seamlessly. Our feet are equipped with an astounding number of sensory nerves that process information from our surroundings, allowing us to navigate the world without consciously thinking about it.

However, many spend most of their time on hard surfaces such as concrete, ceramic, and hardwood. Couple this with ill-fitting and constraining footwear, and it is no surprise that 90% of the population has some form of foot dysfunction or problem-related to the biomechanics of their feet. When foot biomechanics are compromised, the resultant ground reaction forces are imposed on other parts of the body, such as the knees, hips, and back. This can lead to pain, discomfort, and even more significant issues down the line.

This is where orthotics come into play. There is a common misconception that insoles and orthotics are the same, but they are not. Insoles are simply shock-absorbing materials that can be inserted into shoes, offering minimal support or correction. On the other hand, orthotics are biomechanical medical appliances that are custom-made to correct specific foot dysfunctions. They are designed to reduce stress on the body by improving foot function and providing necessary support. Orthotics are like prescription eyeglasses for our feet, specific to the individual and their unique needs.

Obtaining orthotics involves a thorough biomechanical gait analysis to assess foot function and any deformities, as well as the overall functional biomechanics of the body. This is followed by taking casts or impressions of the feet, which are then used to construct the custom orthotics.

The goal of orthotics is to reduce stress on the feet and body, providing biomechanical correction and shock absorption. While wearing good footwear is an essential part of foot care, orthotics can provide additional support and help prevent or alleviate foot and body pain. It is important to note that foot pain or deformities are not necessary for there to be a problem. Symptoms can manifest as knee pain, back pain, or even headaches, all stemming from poor foot biomechanics and the resulting ground reaction forces.

Just as we wouldn't drive our cars thousands of miles without good tires, we should treat our feet with the same care. Investing in orthotics can significantly improve foot function, reduce pain, and enhance overall quality of life. So why wait? Take the first step towards healthier feet and body by scheduling a visit with us today at 519-258-8544. Your feet will thank you for it.


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