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Flat Feet, Fallen Arches and Over-Pronation - How Orthotics and Supportive Shoes Can Help

It is common knowledge that good foot biomechanics are essential for proper body movement, posture and body functions. Any dysfunction of feet muscles, tendons, or muscles, if unattended, can disrupt feet function and biomechanics. This disruption can manifest in form of pain in the feet, ankles, knees, hip joints and back pain. The study of lower limb biomechanics reveals the common causes and simple remedies to excess pronation, one of them being orthotics.

What Are Foot Orthotics?

Orthotics, also known as shoe inserts, insoles or orthoses are customized liners that are placed inside the shoes for the purposes of correcting various foot problems. These inserts are necessary to correct various problems such as overpronation that cause pain in various parts of the body. They achieve this by realigning the foot and ankle bones back to their natural positions which relieves pressure off the subtalar joint, muscles and tendons and thereby restores proper foot functions.

Common Foot Problems

Overpronation and supination are some of the most common feet problems. Excess pronation generally refers to fallen arches or flat feet, and is usually hereditary. However, there are some common causes of overpronation such as obesity, age or even pregnancy. The excess weight puts too much pressure on the plantar arch, thereby flattening it.

How To Tell If You Have Overpronation

It is important to detect foot problems early in order to correct them on time. Overpronation is common, and can become worse over a period of time. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the symptoms on time. There are a few tests such as gait analysis that can help show presence of excess pronation. Some of the basic symptoms include: 

Discomfort in the sole or arch of the foot
Slight outward turning of the foot at the ankle
The shoes may wear out faster on the inside
Slight to excess pain in the ankle, shin, knees, hips or back when running or walking

Feet Conditions Caused By Overpronation

Other than the usual fallen arches or flat feet that are characterized by slight discomfort, excess pronation can cause a myriad of other problems to the feet, ankles, knees and back. Here is a simple but inexhaustive list of the problems flat feet can cause. 

Tarsal tunnel and compartment syndrome 
 Splinting shins
 Achilles tendonitis
 Hallux valgus (also called bunions)
 Heel spurs
 Patello femoral syndrome
 Matatarsalgia

Overpronation is not a preserve of runners and other athletes. Anyone can suffer from this condition, and if untreated, can damage the feet over time, which can be extremely painful. If a person suffering from this condition continues to wear regular shoes that do not offer enough support, this condition becomes worse.

How Do Orthotics Help Correct Fallen Arches, Flat Feet And Overpronation

For starters, orthotics are more than just support to the feet arches; they help realign the feet and ankle bones which restores normal foot functions. This is achieved through evenly distributing body weight so as to take the pressure off the sore parts of the foot. The most commonly affected parts are the foot balls, heels and corns. Additionally, these inserts help avert foot damage in the future as well as provide additional shock absorption.

How Different Are Orthotics From Regular Shoe Inserts?

There is a significant difference between orthotic inserts and regular insoles. The regular inserts are made purposely for shock absorption and to give a comfortable cushioning effect to the feet. They, however, do not affect foot biomechanics at all.

Orthotics, on the other hand, are made to offer support to foot arches as well as address foot malfunctions. They are made of soft yet supportive material which holds the arches in their natural position, thereby keeping feet muscles and bones in optimal functional state.

Orthotics can also be customized to correct the specific problem at hand. This means that you can get shoe inserts that will give your foot arches the support needed depending on the level of pronation. Since different people may have varying degrees of pronation, it is advisable to go for customized orthotic inserts. This is because they will address your problem singularly.

Non prescription orthotics are also very popular, and are made to fit a variety of peope since they come in various sizes and shapes. While they are perfect for a variety of needs in the large population that suffer from overpronation, they may not suitably address your individual problem. However, they may help relieve tension and pressure on the sore spots, thereby reducing pain associated with foot problems.

Excess pronation can be avoided by checking weight and walking in the right posture. It is good to note that selecting the right shoe is important in having healthy, comfortable feet, as well as regular feet exercises.

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