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Functional Foot Orthoses - what are they all about?

Foot orthoses can be used to do a variety of jobs and this information is gained from the assessment process. There are many different types and often a small change in the way they work can make a big difference in how effective they are. Ideally, they are prescribed to do a certain job relating to how you are moving. The assessment will try and identify why the injury has occurred and part of the treatment will be off-loading the damaged structures so that it can heal up. Orthoses can help with off-loading the damaged tissues and provide either a short - or long-term effect. Not everybody functions the same way and the effect the orthsoes have will be individual to you and the way you move. So the orthoses are prescribed to address the damaging bit of function that I think is causing the problem.

As a summary they can be used to either reduce pain directly or by altering the way you are moving and so reducing strain being applied to certain tissues. So in plantar fasciitis, for example they may reduce how much your arch is dropping and so reduce the stretch being applied to the plantar fascia. Or in the case of Runners knee they may reduce how much movement is occurring at your knee by controlling how much your foot moves when you stand on it. They can also alter the way your body moves over your foot, so if your Iliotibial band is painful due to your knee moving laterally (sideways) as your foot rolls onto the outside then orthoses can help reduce this. Or if your low back is always tight and the mobility of your feet is causing tightness of your legs due to the muscles working hard to create stability then the orthoses can reduce the load on your muscles by providing this support.

There are a variety or orthoses to chose from and the pros and cons of each sort will be discussed at the assessment. Some are used for a short term intervention – to off load some tissues or help change a movement pattern, whilst others may be used for a longer term duration. This may be due to the fact that no matter what we do to reduce the load on the tissues whilst maintaining current (or wanting to increase) activity levels is not going happen due to the way your body is working. This may be down to a very mobile foot or a bony change that has occurred that we cannot alter without surgery.

Orthoses may be the only treatment you need but often there is need for other interventions as well. If this is the case I shall explain why I think this is the case and how it will benefit you. This could be foot joint and soft tissue mobilisations, stretching and strengthening exercises, walking and running movement changes as well as advising on which type of footwear are going to be of most benefit.

Orthoses are fitted for you as we may need to do some treatment at the time, make any immediate adjustments, answer any questions you have once they are in shoes about how they feel, explain the effect they are going to have on your body and how to manage this and ensure you are walking or running in the what we feel is a good position. We also offer a follow up appointment, and this may be anywhere between 2-8 week and will depend on what we are trying to achieve.

They will potentially take a little while to get used to and even our most compact and dainty versions will fill up your shoes slightly. You may not need them forever and in the short term you will need to wear them as much as possible to give them the best change to do the job they have been designed to do. If you would like to discuss how orthoses may be of benefit to you then please get in touch.

Orthoses can be used to help with any of the following:

Plantar fasciitis / heel pain

Forefoot pain

Arch strain / pain

Ankles rolling in or outwards

Shin pain

Knee pain on inside, behind knee cap (runners knee) or outside (ITBFS)

They can also help with mechanical back pain by helping your posture and the way you move.

They can be used for all levels of activity and footwear.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

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