3 Ways Custom Orthotics Get Rid of Your Heel Pain
Now, we’re not trying to proclaim that custom orthotics are some magical cure-all that will help every case of heel pain just by slipping a pair into your shoes. Just as with any heel pain treatment, they must be used in the right ways and for the right circumstances.
But for patients whose needs align with the use of custom orthotics, the results they tend to receive are ones they’d never want to give back! Their orthotics play a huge role in their long-term comfort and ability to take on each day without pain.
Here are several ways that custom orthotics can make all the difference when treating certain causes of heel pain.
They Provide Cushioning Exactly Where Needed
Custom orthotics can be prescribed and designed in such a way as to provide the exact amounts of cushioning where a patient may most need them. When matters of pressure can be exacerbated by abnormal shifts in weight across the feet or having to stand or work on hard surfaces all day, this cushioning can matter quite a lot.
“But wait,” you might be thinking. “Isn’t cushioning good in general? Wouldn’t it just make sense to always have lots of cushioning everywhere across the feet?”
While an overload of cushioning might initially feel good, it can actually have a detrimental effect on our comfort and mobility over time. It can limit the foot’s ability to move naturally, which can weaken muscles and compromise the arch. (So, if you have been wearing nothing but cushy slippers every day around the house, you should likely reconsider.)
With custom orthotics, cushioning is only present where it would most benefit a patient’s heel pain treatment and natural movement, helping to relieve current discomfort without risking new discomfort in the future.
Custom Orthotics Help Properly Redistribute Your Weight
For as easy as it can feel to do, walking is a rather complex motion. It requires the cooperation of multiple muscles, tendons, and bones, as well as the shifting of weight over multiple areas of the feet throughout the walking cycle.
When there is an abnormality in the structure of the foot – such as flat feet or high arches for two common examples – the motion of the foot and the ways that weight are distributed across the feet can be affected. This can lead to excess weight and pressure concentrating in certain areas of the foot while we stand and walk. This, in turn, can strain the plantar fascia, Achilles tendon, and other soft tissues, leading to consistent heel pain.
Custom orthotics help counter this imbalance by providing precise amounts of corrective support where each patient needs it. This can properly redistribute weight across the feet and shift excess stress away from areas that have become more vulnerable and painful.
It is important to note that custom orthotics are not like braces on the teeth. They provide balance and support, but will not cause a foot structure to shift to a proper alignment over time. If you stop using orthotics – even if your feet have long felt fine – it is very possible that heel pain will return. But since reconstructive surgery is typically the only action that can permanently realign the feet, custom orthotics are often seen as a better alternative.
Custom Orthotics Help You Expend Energy More Effectively
We are designed to move with as little energy expenditure as possible. Streamlined, you could say. But when there is a structural abnormality or other problem that interferes with natural function, it can lead to excess energy expenditure.
What do we mean by this? Our feet may move excessively, for one. Overpronation, when the foot rolls inward farther than typical during the walk cycle, is often part of having flat feet. Such movement can place excess stress on the plantar fascia, leading to heel pain from plantar fasciitis.
Secondly, muscles may need to fire in ways they normally wouldn’t to keep us balanced and stable as we move. This not only expends extra energy but can cause strain in areas ranging from the feet to the legs, knees, hips, and lower back as systems all the way up must react to abnormal movement below.
Finding better alignment via custom orthotics can not only help relieve the abnormal stresses that can be leading to forms of heel pain, but can also contribute to relieving aches higher up as well. More active patients who use custom orthotics might also find themselves feeling fatigued less quickly as their energy use is better channeled.
Are Custom Orthotics Part of Your Heel Pain Treatment Plan?
We will only recommend custom orthotics if they would be effective for a patient’s specific needs. Not everyone with heel pain may require them, and we would much rather provide you what would work for your needs.
Before making any recommendation for heel pain treatment, we must take the time to fully examine the condition and understand how it’s affecting your life. Only then will we move forward with potential treatments.
Custom orthotics might be all or part of a recommendation, or it might not be in the picture at all. We will always happily answer questions about why we believe our recommendations will provide you the relief you need.
If persistent heel pain has been bothering you or a loved one, do not wait for it to get better on its own – because it likely won’t. Schedule an appointment by calling our Enumclaw office or filling out our online contact form.