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  • Writer's pictureMichael Liougas

How do You know if you need orthotics?

Updated: Mar 15

Orthotics are a great non-invasive treatment option for foot ailments of all types, but how do you know if you need orthotics? The answer may be blurred across different sources and even across the opinions, you may be harbouring yourself.

  • How much pain or discomfort do I really need in order to get an orthotic?

  • Is that relative?

  • What if my foot problems don't always cause me pain?

These questions can be tough to answer, but knowing the signs of needing orthotics can help you answer them with accuracy. Below are eight signs to be aware of, both for yourself and your loved ones. If you already know you need orthotics, feel free to schedule an appointment online for an assessment and physiotherapy treatment.

Health Checkup

1. You have low or high arches

Improper arch support can lead to a variety of pains and problems within the feet and lower body. Poor arch support can cause conditions like plantar fascia, which manifests as a sharp pain in the heel, especially when you first wake up.

Flat arches don't distribute shock as well as standard arches, which can cause pain, soreness, and swelling. Orthotics add extra support and cushioning to the arches, either softening the effects of flat feet or adding support to arches that are too high. Arches that are properly supported and cushioned by orthotics can better absorb and distribute shock, keeping strain from places like your heel or the balls of your feet.

2. Your shoes wear unevenly

Pronounced troughs or ditches in the soles of your shoes often signal a discrepancy with your foot's biomechanics. Your feet may have a tendency to roll outward as you walk or stand, which is called pronation.

Supination is an inward roll of the foot. Wear on one side of your shoe, either the outer or inner side can point towards the presence of pronation or supination. Orthotics ensure that weight and pressure are distributed evenly across your foot, which would cause an even, gradual wearing of your shoe soles.

shows wearing unevenly (signs you need orthotics)

3. You often lose your balance

Problems with balance can feel annoying at best and unsafe at worst. Difficulties with balance can stem from having fallen arches that cannot distribute weight properly or stand up to sudden shifts of your weight. Other biomechanical problems with your feet may also affect your balance.

In short, anything that prevents your feet from distributing and bracing weight properly could be cause for balance concerns. Orthotics correct this issue by evenly distributing weight and pressure. Extra support for fallen arches allows your feet to function and react as designed, helping you keep your balance as you walk and stand and can also help prevent plantar fasciitis.

4. You have frequent pain or swelling in your feet

Though it seems obvious, having frequent pain or swelling in your feet is a sign that something's not quite right. Regardless of what seems normal to you, living with foot pain or frequent swelling doesn't have to be your norm.

A visit with a physiotherapist will help you figure out what's causing your pain and help pinpoint a solution. Treatments may even be simpler than you'd think, like more breaks throughout your day or gentle stretching exercises. In other cases, orthotics may be prescribed to help reduce your pain and discomfort, especially if it's severe.

swollen foot may indicate you need custom orthotics

5. You've injured a lower limb recently

Injuries to your hips, legs, knees, and ankles can all change how your feet operate internally. Small changes in gait or stance can end up having powerful effects on your feet, resulting in pain, soreness, or swelling. Orthotics help correct any chain-effect issues with the way your feet distribute weight and their shock-absorbing capabilities.

6. You stand for prolonged periods of time

Many jobs require long periods of standing and walking, both of which can have a negative impact on the health of your feet. The frequent strain and unrelenting pressure of standing can damage your feet or cause foot conditions to develop, like plantar fascia or bursitis. The effects of standing for too long can travel up the body and cause pain in some unexpected places, like headaches near the base of your head.

Orthotics offer cushioning and support to tired feet, reducing strain to give all-over relief to your body. Orthotics also help correct posture issues, which can become likelier as your body grows fatigued from standing without proper break periods.

7. You have abnormalities with your gait

Gait abnormalities can shift pressure and weight distribution in your feet, causing a number of foot conditions. Toe walking, or walking on the balls of your feet, could cause metatarsalgia, for example. Pelvic asymmetry can also cause gait abnormalities. Having a leg that's shorter than the other affects your gait as well, even if the length difference is slight. Orthotics help correct the causes of an abnormal gait to restore the capabilities of your feet, all in a completely non-invasive manner.

8. You have arthritis or diabetic complications with your feet

Both diabetes and arthritis can cause swelling and pain in your feet. Orthotics help distribute pressure evenly and offer additional cushioning and support for inflamed or tender joints. With an even distribution of pressure, the swelling from both arthritis and diabetes is reduced.

The extra support and comfort offered by orthotics can help return the function you may have lost in your feet, and keep your pain levels at a minimum. If you're not sure whether you need custom-made insoles in Toronto, give us a call, send us a message and we'll help you figure it out.

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