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Posts for tag: Orthotics

Choosing the right custom foot orthotic for overpronation

Are you a runner and have not had success with custom orthotics in the past because they were uncomfortable and too rigid?  If so please read on and learn about the best material that Sports Podiatrists can use so that your orthotic is comfortable as well as provides the correct amount of support.

Q: What materials are available for orthotics and which are the best?

A: : In order to understand why certain orthotic materials are typically recommended by podiatric physicians, it is important to understand the fundamental goals in orthotic therapy. The purpose of the functional orthotic is to accurately and precisely position the foot throughout the gait cycle so as to promote proper function. Its function is not merely to support the arch, as is often the case with commercial appliances or arch supports purchased in retail stores. The functional orthotic is prescription fitted and is very effective in alleviating symptoms and establishing proper alignment. In order to achieve the desired and expected results from the use of functional orthotics, several steps must occur. First, a detailed range of motion and muscle testing examination is performed by your podiatrist. The purpose of this is to measure and quantify the motion of all lower extremity joints, identify abnormalities such as excessive laxity or limitation of motion, and determine the weightbearing and non-weightbearing functional positions of these joints. The muscle testing portion of the examination is performed in order to determine muscle groups which may be excessively weak or tight and to determine their part in the overall cause of injury, symptoms or biomechanic problem.

Following the examination, a non-weightbearing neutral position cast or three dimenstional image of the foot is taken. The specific method of casting or imaging is critical and must be done accurately in order to achieve an accurate impression of the foot in its neutral position. The negative casts or three dimensional image (email) are then sent to an orthotic laboratory accompanied by a prescription written by your podiatrist indicating not only the specification of the foot pathology that needs to be addressed, but also the materials to be used and the dimensions and accessories to be used in the manufacture of your functional foot orthotics. The manufacture of functional foot orthotics is thus a multi-step process involving detailed and intricate cast correction, orthotic fabrication and application of additional items prescribed by your podiatrist for the treatment of your specific condition.

In order to achieve the desired results, the functional foot orthotics must be made from materials which have the ability to resist the pathologic symptom-producing forces which have ultimately produced the injury. Typically, plastics or graphite are used, both offering a range of flexibilities, designed to appropriately resist abnormal injury-producing forces while allowing comfort and compliance so as to be compatible with the sport. The plastics that are used are generally made of a family of materials called polyolefins, the most common being polypropylene. The thickness of these materials ranges from 1/8" to 1/4". These materials range from quite flexible and compliant to relatively rigid. Graphite also ranges from quite flexible to quite rigid and is generally one-half as thick and one-half as heavy as orthotics made from polyolefin materials. The flexibility, or compliance, of an orthotic is a subjective choice determined by the requirements of your sport and the degree of rigidity required to resist the abnormal forces resulting in injury. Highly flexible devices are used when the forces imposed are relatively minor or the requirement of the sport mandates a compliant device. However, these materials possess shorter life spans due to the cyclic fatigue inherent in an orthotic device that has a high degree of flexibility. More rigid orthotic devices are used when more significant forces are present or the sport of choice is compatible with the more rigid device. More rigid devices have the advantage of being quite durable and can often last for many years without modification or adjustment. Typically, stop-start complex motion and/or cutting sports (ie. soccer, basketball, aerobics, tennis) require more compliance in an orthotic device, while repetitive-motion sports such as walking or running are quite compatible with more rigid devices.

Soft materials such as Neoprene, various open- and closed-cell foams or similar cushioning materials may be used in conjunction with functional foot orthoses to provide both support and comfort. A patient should always discuss these options with their podiatrist and even entertain the possibility of having more than one pair of orthotics using materials of different flexibility and/or covers as determined by the requirements of their sport, the constraints of their shoe gear, and their overall comfort.

Successful orthotic treatment should always include an orthotic device that is effective in reducing eliminating symptoms and is comfortable to wear. By selecting the appropriate flexibility material and cover material, both of these goals can generally be achieved.

Our foot specialists at Carolina Foot Specialists are active athletes that have experienced a majority of the foot ailments that patient's present with in the office. When custom foot orthotics are dispensed a detailed plan includes the proper break in period  as well as a plan to get patient's back to their chosen sporting activity. We have a policy where orthotics can be refurbished or remade within a six month period of time if required to insure that our patient's are please with the custom orthotics  that they have received.

For more information of a variety of foot conditions please refer to our website at

December 20, 2009
Category: Shoe Gear
Tags: Orthotics  

Carolina Foot specialists link for our state of the art digital orthotic scanner.

Don't compromise your game!
The right foot gear will keep you performing your best and injury free.

By Dr. Andrew Saffer

During a ten mile run, the feet make approximately 15,000 strikes, at a force of three to four times your body's weight. Even strolling around your neighborhood for an evening walk puts about one and a half times your bodyweight on your feet. The average non-athletic person will log approximately 1,000 miles per year on their feet. Twenty six bones work with the foot's ligaments, muscles and tendons in two very small structures to support and balance the weight of your entire body. And you thought they were just feet.

Whether you're training for the Bridge Run, playing tennis, or even golf, it's essential to make sure that your feet are comfortable and protected. It's important to remember that foot problems are not only menacing to your feet but can also affect the proper functioning of other parts of the body, including the hip, knee, and back. Because these injuries are progressive, you are probably not even aware of the damage that you're doing.

Before we go any further let's discuss common foot disorders that could be problematic over time and some basic treatment options. A majority of foot pain is the result of a faulty relationship between the bones and muscles of the foot. Incorrect alignment can result in significant discomfort. This abnormal function can lead to foot disorders such as plantar fasciitis (heel pain), achilles tendonitis, bunions, hammertoes, and calluses.

Many of these common "overuse" injuries can be attributed directly or indirectly to improper shoes. Choosing appropriate footwear will not only help prevent injuries but will also let you participate to the best of your ability.

For example, with respect to running shoes it is essential that your specific foot type matches the construction of the running shoe. Pain can result when the shoes' construction doesn't match your foot type. All shoes are constructed from a "last" which is the inside shape of the shoe. Generally, running shoes have a straight last, modified last, or a curved last.

If you have been told that you have a flat arch then you would most benefit from a straight last shoe which maintains support beneath the arch. If you have a high arch foot you would benefit from a curved last shoe which provides more cushioning. If your feet are neutral then you should choose a modified last shoe. Fortunately, most athletic shoe stores employ people who have knowledge of the factors that go into choosing the right pair of shoes.

For some, the right shoe is only half the battle. Custom molded orthotics are prescription medical devices that can be made from various techniques such as plaster cast impression, foam boxes, and our new state of the art technique, "Three dimensional digital scanning."They are designed to control alignment and function of the foot in order to treat or prevent injury-causing forces on bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments. Often, orthotics are used to limit motions such as excessive pronation where your arch may tend to collapse inward. They also make activities such as running, walking, and standing more efficient. Orthotics work like shock absorbers to remove pressure and stress from painful areas in your foot and ankle. They can restore balance, improve sport performance and even alleviate pain in the knee, hip, and lower back. Orthotics are sport specific and different sports may require different orthotics (golf shoes, cycling shoes, tennis sneakers, ski boots, etc.)

Forgive my digression but it should also be noted that in addition to providing relief from painful foot problems or injury, custom orthotics may also benefit people who must walk or stand excessively on the job. In the case of overweight individuals, orthotics can help to counteract the extra stress on the feet, as minor problems are often magnified due to increased weight and stress.

Our new state of the art digial scanner system captures a digital scan of the feet, in a neurtal stance position. The three dimensional image is sent to our orthotic technicians via email. Based on our specific prescription, the technicians customize a device to meet the patient's specific needs.

The orthotic style most often used in athletes is semi-rigid. It allows for dynamic balance of the foot while running or participating in sports. By guiding the foot through proper functions, it allows the muscles and tendons to perform more efficiently. It is constructed of layers of soft materials, reinforced with more rigid materials.

You may be surprised to find that your insurance company will fully or partially cover custom orthotics. Many insurance companies are beginning to recognize that for some, orthotics can be an effective tool in eliminating pain and promoting the overall health and well being of the foot and therefore the rest of the body.

As you gear up for Spring, make sure that you have the appropriate shoes paired with an orthotic device (if necessary) so that the muscles, tendons and bones of your feet function at their highest potential.

You can find more information about this topic and others online at