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Your feet are an extremely important part of your body. They make up a combined quarter of the bones in your body and each foot contains about 30 joints alone, not to mention all the muscles, tendons and ligaments found in the foot! All of the structures in your feet work to support and control your entire body while you are standing, walking and running. Podiatrists use orthotics to help your feet in these activities. At times, your feet need to absorb nearly 2.5 times your body weight’s worth of force!

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It is no wonder that when something upsets this delicate balance, your feet (and as a result the rest of your body) can feel sore and fatigued. Some common causes of this may be:

  • Trauma – such as a sprain, fall or sporting injury
  • Overloading – either excessive activity or rapid changes in bodyweight or training load
  • Genetics – abnormal biomechanical alignment (such as flat feet, bunions or high arches) creates an imbalance in the load going through muscles and joints 
  • Health conditions which affect joints and/or connective tissue – such as arthritis, hypermobility and developmental disorders
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How do orthotics work? 

Orthotics are designed to bring balance back to your feet by reducing and redistributing the forces flowing through your feet. They do this by repositioning foot joints and providing targeted cushioning. This means that injured muscles, tendons and joints can be given a break, while underutilised structures can start taking on more work. Podiatrists train extensively in understanding the unique biomechanics of the feet, and know how to identify and correct foot posture pathology. 

As your feet are the base of your body, these biomechanical corrections can have a flow-on effect up to your knee, hips and back. The result can be reduced foot and leg pain, reduced callus build-up, improved posture and greater endurance.

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What conditions do orthotics help treat?

Orthotics help most causes of foot pain and it is always worth having a chat to your podiatrist, but as a general guide some common conditions we treat with orthotics are:

  • Symptomatic flat (overpronated) feet 
  • High arched (pes cavus) feet
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Heel pain
  • Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
  • Bunions 
  • Foot and knee Osteoarthritis
  • Drop-foot
  • Ankle instability
  • Hypermobility
  • Morton’s neuroma and neuritis
  • Sinus tarsi syndrome
  • Achilles tendinopathy

Contributed by Podiatrist Meredith King

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