Yes, we, as humans, have been around for thousands of years, roaming the earth in all sorts of footwear and a lot of the time in plain old bare feet. But the thing is that the environment that we live in has changed – quite a lot for most of us. We did not evolve to be walking around on artificial, hard surfaces all day long and our feet were not made to be cramped up in little foot coffins (shoes) for a lot of the day. These two things force our feet to flatten, twist and compress with each step.
We also have changed what we do during the day – less tree climbing, less mountain climbing and fossicking, instead watching more TV, sitting at desks and wearing high heels or hard business shoes. So when we do go and push ourselves physically it is a bit of a shock to the system because more often than not our bodies are deconditioned and are put under more stress and strain than they are used to.
Let us not even get started on the flip flops, heels, ballet flats and other poor fitting shoes that really mess with our feet. Far too often are shoes worn for their good looks rather than their functionality?
Luckily, this is where orthotics comes in. They can be slipped into almost any shoe (meaning you can still look good!) to do the job of absorbing undue pressure, correcting proper bio-mechanics and supporting your arch.
So what can orthotics help with?
The main areas that orthotics can help with are:
- Low back pain
- Knee pain
- Shin pain
- Achilles pain
- Foot pain or plantar fasciitis
If you are having trouble in any of these areas, it may be worth asking your physiotherapist if orthotics would help you. Physiotherapists are perfectly placed to prescribe the right orthotics for you – if they are even needed. And remember, a treatment plan for any injury or pain is not just about wearing the right shoes or orthotics, often it can include the right strengthening and stretching exercises and possibly even changes to your lifestyle habits. This is because orthotics do help, especially in the short term but it always pays to address any strength deficits as well, for long term relief.
A physiotherapist can help guide you through making changes that, in the long term, will save you money, save you a lot of pain and discomfort, and help you get the most enjoyment out of life.
How do you really know if they will help you?
There is actually a great test a physiotherapist can do that will give us a better idea if orthotics can help. A physiotherapist can strap up your feet in such a way that they mimic the effects of orthotics – leave this on for up to 2-3 days and if this helps you then orthotics generally will too!
Shaun Clark (Physical Therapist)
New Zealand Physiotherapy blog
Compiled By; Nellie Nthiga,
C&P Health Center.