Regardless of what pain you have that requires the support of custom orhotics, its essential that you seek the right help. The orthotics that are prescribed for you will dictate the biomechanical wellbeing of your legs and feet for many years, having the right people on the job is crucial! Here are some guidelines on what to look for when choosing an orthotics centre or clinic to prescribe orthotics for you.
An Orthotic Centre That Treats You As An Individual
The orthotic centre or health practice you should go to should be a place where they take the time to really understand your specific needs. The truth is that we are all the same in some ways and all different in others.
Some of us need custom orthotics for flat feet and knee pain, others need custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis and flat feet. There is really no use thinking and acting as if all our needs are exactly the same, even though the types of solutions we often need are common to many of us.
In addition to each of us having a unique set of ‘clinical’ needs we each have unique needs when it comes to footwear. The ideal orthotic centre or orthotic clinic will be willing and able to prescribe you custom orthotics that fit in all of your shoes (yes even heels). Part of this is being able to prescribe orthotics for specific sporting needs as required.
An Orthotic Centre That Provides Rehabilitation
Problems with the feet that you take to an orthotics centre or orthotic clinic are basically all ‘postural’ problems. Although we normally reserve the term ‘postural’ for matters relating to the spine our bodies observe the rules of posture right down to the tips of our toes. Posture is alignment.
One thing that I think most of us know about posture and alignement these days is that muscle strength and muscle activity are a major part of the story. It’s all well and good having the most perfect skeleton in all creation, if your muscles don’t hold those perfect bones in the right position your posture will be a non event.
Orthotics provide natural support to the arch of the foot as natural surfaces did before we invented paving and concrete. Orthotics made by a good clinic or orthotic centres will give great support and help immensely with any issues you have with your feet, ankles, knees and hips. What they won’t do is strengthen the muscles that had weakened as part of the underlying cause of your problem! That’s an important job ! All stubborn pain complaints from sprained ankles and plantar fasciitis to chronic back pain have a major component of muscle wasting.
An Orthotic Centre Where They Understand That Feet Aren’t Just Feet
If the eyes are the window to the soul feet are the window to the joints in the lower half of the human body (less catchy but definitely true). If you have issues solely with your feet and you are certain that there are no other issues in your ankles, knees, hips and lower back by all means go somewhere where they are only interested in your feet.
If your reason for finding an orthotic centre is that you have problems with your feet AND you have also have had stubborn pain complaints (even in the past) in other parts of your lower limb or lower back; find somewhere to go where they take the ‘biomechanical chain’ seriously. The likelihood is that whatever lower limb pain complaints you have had now or in the past do relate to one another. Work with people who are willing to work with and address these connections.
An Orthotic Centre Who Prescribe Flexible Orthotics
Gone are the days of hard inflexible customised orthotics.. praise the lord!!! The human foot is living tissue and that means it requires a flexible, dynamic correction and not a solid orthotic. A custom orthotic should prevent the arch from collapsing completely, yet still be flexible enough to bend under your body weight. In addition to the mechanical support that flexible custom made orthotics provide, the ‘flex’ is thought to stimulate nerve endings in the arch which give feedback to all the other stabilising muscles in the leg.
Having an orthotic centre or clinic where they understand the importance of flexible custom orthotics is a major component of makes that orthotic worth the money you spend on it. Having an orthotic that is rock solid is not worth anything let alone your hard earned money.
An Orthotic Centre Who Are Willing to Provide Follow Up & Pain Management
Hold on tight here comes a metaphore. Imagine for a minute that you have eaten 25 premium ice cream bars every day for 25 years (prob not as fun as it sounds in reality), and as a result you find yourself sitting in a doctors office being given some very bad news. In that moment you decide to give up Magnums. It might be a bit too late to think that this resolution is enough to prevent the diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity in a flash. This moment has strong similarities with the act of putting in orthotics.
40 years olds with flat feet and onset of foot pain for example, have with few exceptions eveeeeentually had their mechanical issue turn into tendinposis or plantar fasciitis. This means they have taken close to 100 million steps on an unnaturally hard surface and it’s finally caught up with them. This means that there may be too much of a build up of scar tissue and stress in the tissues to have them just come along for the orthotic ride and every thing be sweet as a nut.
A significant percentage people who are prescribed orthotics either struggle or fail all together to adapt to them. This percentage can be greatly reduced with follow up care.
While you might take a punt on just about any cafe to make your morning coffee as a 1 off, I highly doubt you would go back to that same place every day for 5 years if the coffee was crappy. When you choose a clinic or orthotic centre you are putting your faith in them for the long haul, it’s an important decision. I am not implying that preventing pain and disability is necessarily more important than good coffee mind you:)
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