Custom orthotics are shoe inserts like you see in many retail stores, but they are specifically engineered to address your unique foot structure and concerns. There are two general types of orthotics that can be used to address a wide range of foot issues.
Functional orthotics are designed to minimize abnormal movement of the foot and ankle, which can cause issues from the lower back to the feet. One type of functional issue is when people have pronation or supination. This means the person stands and walks with most of the pressure on the inside or outside of the foot, instead of the foot remaining flat and in a neutral position. When there is pronation or supination, it can cause significant pain in the ankle because the ankle bows inward or outward. In turn, this also places unnecessary stress on the medial or lateral aspect of the knee.
Orthotics can be made to keep the foot in a neutral position. These orthotics are made of hard material and may cradle the foot to keep it neutral. The easiest way to determine the alignment of your foot is to check the wear pattern on an old pair of shoes. People who pronate will notice the medial aspect of their soles show the most wear, whereas those who supinate will have more wear on the lateral aspect of the soles. Correcting pronation and supination with custom orthotics can reduce or eliminate pain in the hip or back as well.
Accommodative orthotics are used to address pressure points on the foot by offering cushioning. A common reason for using accommodative orthotics is to reduce calluses on the bottom of the feet. Without cushioning, the callus will remain painful and the skin will continue to build up. In rare instances, some people experience a condition called plantar hyperkeratosis, where the skin on the bottom of the feet is unusually sensitive to pressure and there is a severe buildup of hardened skin on many areas of the feet. These people need custom orthotics that provide significant cushioning all over the bottom of their feet. Accommodative orthotics can also be used to address issues such as deformities or minimize the risks of foot problems in diabetics, such as skin ulcers.
Custom orthotics are an important tool, when paired with the correct shoes, to reduce pain from the lower back to the feet and address a wide range of foot concerns. Diabetics, especially, benefit from custom orthotics to minimize their chance of foot ulcers.
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