When most people think of foot orthotics, they think of the insoles that they can slip into almost any pair of shoes they own in order to obtain relief from their particular foot-related issues, whether they are functional (related to abnormal movements) or accommodative (needing additional cushion and/or support). However, another option exists when it comes to improving the health of your feet, and that is custom-made orthotic shoes.
What are custom-made orthotic shoes?
Custom-made orthotic shoes are basically footwear that is made to your feet’s exact specifications and needs. This requires taking a mold of your feet and creating a shoe that helps correct any issues that are present as a result of structural abnormality (like plantar fasciitis), or those that may accompany a disease or illness (such as arthritis or diabetes).
The main goal of these shoes is to improve your gait so that your feet absorb the pressure of your weight in the way that is most functional and healthier. This involves crafting footwear that gently forces your feet to change the way they move, which generally means less pain as a result.
What kinds of pain can custom made orthotic shoes help resolve?
Here are just a few:
- Foot pain. This is perhaps the most obvious—if you suffer from conditions that cause pain in your feet, custom-made orthotic shoes may help. Plantar fasciitis, for example, affects roughly 2 million Americans annually and causes great pain in the heel area, making it one of the biggest foot-related reasons that people pursue orthotics.1
- Shin splints. Do you experience pain in the front of your lower leg? If so, according to the Mayo Clinic, one of the risk factors associated with this particular issue is having a foot arch that is either too flat or too high. Fortunately, this issue can be remedied by custom orthotic shoes that provide just the right arch support.2
- Knee pain. When there is any type of malfunction in your feet, it is possible to feel it in your knees, as well. This is due to the fact that the bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles in your feet are connected to your knees through your lower leg. Any imbalance can either directly or indirectly affect your knees and can cause problems to form in that particular area.
- Hip pain. The University of Rochester Medical Center reported that, “When you walk, you put the force of as much as five times your body weight on each foot. If the foot doesn’t absorb that shock or redistribute it properly, you can develop problems elsewhere.” Unfortunately, sometimes “elsewhere” means in your hips.3
- Back pain. There are a number of causes of back pain, and foot abnormality is one of them. Fortunately, research shows that foot orthotics can sometimes help. For example, in one study involving 62 patients with chronic low back pain, researchers found that the subjects who used customized foot orthotics in addition to usual care reported more improvement in regard to their back pain than the individuals who did not use orthotics.4
- Neck pain. Believe it or not, neck pain can come from foot issues, such as if your legs are different length. This can create stress on your neck region, causing you to feel pain and discomfort in the muscles and soft tissues in and around your shoulders and head.
If you experience any of these issues, then custom-made orthotic shoes may just provide you the relief you seek.
1 Plantar Fasciitis Organization. “Plantar Fasciitis, Heel Spurs, Heel Pain.” Plantar-Fasciitis.org. http://www.plantar-fasciitis.org/. Accessed February 2015.
2 Mayo Clinic Staff. “Shin splints: Risk factors.” MayoClinic.org. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/shin-splints/basics/risk-factors/con-20023428. Updated January 2014. Accessed February 2015.
3 Bhattacharyya T, Cohen D, Foster S, et al. “Are Feet at Fault for Back, Hip, and Knee Woes?” University of Rochester Medical Center. http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=1158. Accessed February 2015.
4 Ferrari R. Effect of customized foot orthotics in addition to usual care for the management of chronic low back pain following work-related low back injury. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2013:36(6);359–363.