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Shoe Insoles / Orthotics - Cure or Curse?

Shoe insoles / foot orthotics have the power to positively transform your postural alignment - or ruin it.

If you are suffering any form of foot or ankle pain and if the thought of a shoe insole has crossed your mind, then please consider these few key points before taking any action.

Firstly, what is a shoe insole?

Shoe insoles, also referred to as orthotics or orthoses, commonly refer to sole inserts for shoes. The insoles alter the “geometry” of posture by lifting different areas of the foot, thereby shifting one’s posture ever so slightly. This is a very good thing when required to; relieve pinched nerves, offload muscles and joints and alter leg and spinal alignment for improved physical function. Insoles can come prefabricated in different support structures or be custom made.

When an insole is not the solution

If the problem does not have a root biomechanical (misalignment) cause, there is no point providing an insole to try and correct a problem which does not exist. Providing an insole when not required may even create misalignment and cause further injury.

What not to do!

If you are not certain of your needs, do not simply accept a device with little or no physical assessment or an assessment not carried out by a medical professional. You will run the risk of being provided with an expensive device which is incorrect for your foot type, may not fit properly, may not be comfortable and possibly make your condition worse.

When an insole is the right option

An insole can offer significant benefit in supporting or correcting a biomechanical misalignment resulting either from injury or natural formation, offering you reduced pain or totally pain free movement.

If you are not certain that you suffer from such a condition but have reason for concern, you really do need to get a professional assessment done so you can take the right action the first time.

In summary

If you suspect you are suffering from pain caused by a possible misalignment and are not certain of your needs - then get yourself professionally assessed.

The assessment and prescription process should ideally be one which is scientifically validated and applied by an experienced, medically trained clinician who is bound by a professional code of practice.

A thorough assessment will determine if insoles are required and if prefabricated (over the counter) models are suitable and which type are right for you. Custom made devices offer the significant benefit of being customised perfectly for your feet. This is especially valuable if each foot presents a different degree of correction needed.

Having a proper assessment and having the right device prescribed the first time round will save you a lot of time, unnecessary discomfort and money in the long run.

Lorraine Carroll and her team of Chartered Physiotherapists have been treating biomechanically related ankle and foot pain for many years and are specialised in this area having completed specific post-graduate training. Lorraine also lectures regularly to various GP groups on this topic. 

 

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