The feet are the foundation of the body.
Just like a house, when the foundation is not level everything that sits atop is not supported and is crooked. This means that normal foot mechanics can adversely influence the normal functions of the ankle, knee, hip, back, and neck. If left untreated, many foot conditions eventually contribute to health concerns up the kinetic chain.
This foot-spine-body connection is one of the most important and most common ones we see in our patients who walk into our office every day. After 40 years of practice and 17 years of digitally scanning every patient’s feet, my simple conclusion is that every human has some degree of arch collapse in their feet. No one is immune to plastic deformation, and the arches of the feet continue to collapse with age.
Arch support: The feet are the foundation
Genetics plays a significant role in the collapse of the arches in the feet. However, factors like shoe types, activity levels, and injuries can play a role. The shoes that people buy, whether they are athletic or dress, tend to provide minimal support for the feet. It is more fashion than function. If one looks at the bottom of most shoes, there is minimal arch support present. In most cases, the body goes years with imbalances and learns to compensate for the collapsed arches due to lack of arch support. This leads to pain in the ankles, knees, hips, back, and neck.
As an architectural structure, the feet are the foundation, and all work must begin thereby addressing the imbalances in the feet and the impact they are having up the kinetic chain. Using the Structural Fingerprint® Exam, we assess the biomechanical imbalances with every test. We do-leg length, muscle tenderness, joint mobility, digital foot scan and then the biomechanical x-rays. These assessments help demonstrate imbalances, fixations, distortion patterns and in many cases, dysfunction.
Re-educating the body
In most cases, the body has gone years with imbalances and has learned to compensate for the collapsed arches and the abnormal biomechanics. Re-educating the body is critically important, and that starts with Foot Levelers custom orthotics. Once Foot Levelers custom orthotics are introduced to the foot and shoe, the body will go through a re-education period. Just by wearing the custom orthotics, the feet are forced to exercise different muscle groups to align the body and provide full body support.
Re-educating the body is critically important and can only be truly successful when the patient has continuity of support in all their shoes. A study in Time Magazine found that the average person has 27 pairs of shoes. Due to the multiple shoe types we all wear, it is critically important to equip each shoe type with a custom orthotic. Without the continuity of proper support across shoe types, the body will revert to and compensate for the imbalances and diminish your patient’s outcomes.
Report of findings
This means that we as providers need to address that issue at our report of findings. Take the time to understand how many different shoe types the patient wears, walk slowly through the explanation of cost, and stand firm on the importance of wearing them continually. The continuity of wearing these supports cannot be over-emphasized. The result will be a win-win for you and your patient.
For all my patients, I start out by recommending two pairs. A recent survey found that 61 percent of respondents said they wore two or three pairs of shoes in a week. A great start is recommending one pair for their athletic shoes and one for their work or dress shoes. These two pairs of custom orthotics alone will cover a majority of their week and ensure that they have the consistent support their body needs no matter what shoes they are wearing.
Tim Maggs, DC, has been in practice nearly 40 years, and is the developer of the Concerned Parents of Young Athletes (CPOYA) network, with the goal of offering middle and high school athletes a biomechanical exam prior to each sports season. The network, in partnership with Foot Levelers, provides training, resources, networking opportunities, and more for DCs interested in working with youth athletes. Maggs can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or through CPOYA.com.