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Foot and heel pain – do I need orthotics?

Plantar Fascia

Ever been told you have flat feet? And then been sold a pair of financially demanding shoe orthotics. Which you have to wear forever OR ELSE!

Well lucky you’ve come across this blog post. Unfortunately, chances are that if you’ve been wearing these orthotics for some time you’ll know that now when you don’t wear them you get pain. This is because you’ve been wearing the equivalent of a plaster cast on your foot for the previous 10 years.

What happens when you take a normal plaster cast off? The limb that was being protected is now shrunken and weak. Sweaty and smelly as well. Same goes for your feet! Relying on orthotics to create stability for your foot causes your foot to become completely unstable without them.

Am I saying that orthotics are always bad? No. In some cases they are necessary. Like maybe if you’ve had major reconstructive foot surgery. Or some kind of bony deformation. They may even be needed initially in severe plantar fasciitis cases to help reduce pain and inflammation. But remember that humans evolved without shoes (certainly without orthotics) – we are very capable of walking with bare feet. And in fact, if you spend more time not wearing shoes, you’ll have considerably less foot problems. The arch is designed to flatten and rise with movement as a shock absorber. This mechanism is called the windlass mechanism. If you’d like to read more you can do so here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC385265/ .

The take away point is that stiff shoes, with narrow forefoot, and heel rise block the natural action of the foot and lead to conditions like plantar fasciitis.

There are several reasons that people have flat feet, or collapsing ankles and these problems are primarily due to weakness and tightness. This can be in the foot, calf, hip or core – and can all contribute to foot problems.

Some people have high arches, some people have low arches. There is no good or bad. But if your feet are giving you problems and you want to put in the effort to fix the problem for good come see an Exercise Physiologist at Hunter Rehab and get your movement fix.

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