Foot orthoses, otherwise referred to as foot orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that help support the feet and improve foot posture. Resident podiatrist and foot enthusiast Blake Withers has provided some insight on what foot orthoses really are and has helped to bust common foot orthoses myths.

Myths about foot orthoses:

MYTH 1: Pronation is bad, and you need foot orthoses to fix it

‘Pronation is bad and is the reason for your pain’.

The majority of the population pronates and needs to for normal walking and running. Pronation is one of the pivotal movements of the foot.

Old research has been disproven linking pronation with injury and now shows that it’s more related to load tolerance and the old saying ‘doing too much to quick’. There are cases where someone can be sensitive to this movement and it would be beneficial to limit that movement for a period of time. However, this movement is still required for your foot to function.

At Sports and Spinal, your Podiatrist will assess a range of different areas including movement patterns, strength, balance, and tissue capacity to assist in rehabilitation and performance.

MYTH 2: They are a lifetime sentence

Foot orthoses are most commonly not a lifetime sentence. There may be some cases where they help and offer support long term. A good analogy to use is that they are like a shoulder sling.

For example, if you were to hurt your shoulder, you may be prescribed a shoulder sling for the next 12 weeks to reduce the load going through the shoulder. Once you have built some strength and desensitized the area, you will be free to come out and continue as you were.

Foot orthoses are much the same, once that area has desensitised and you can tolerate the load of the body again, they may not be required. Your Podiatrist will assess you along the way and is best equipped to monitor your response time frames with foot orthoses.

Remember – They are part of a rehab strategy.

MYTH 3: They brace the feet and make the feet weaker

Your foot muscles still work to stabilise and control the foot when on the device. Currently, within the world of research, there are 5 studies looking directly at foot muscle strength with foot orthosis. 4/5 of the studies show no decrease in strength capacity or stability.

One study showed an increase in strength. We are not supporting the muscle, we are modifying the load and spreading the pressure out underneath the foot. The muscles and structures still and do work just as hard.

MYTH 4: They can only go in neutral running shoes

We understand that, yes, the shoe does play a role in the effect of the orthoses (another reason why your Podiatrist will recommend a strong and supportive shoe) and as we know, we must have a shoe for the foot orthoses effect to be reached.

Can foot orthoses go into any shoe?

They can go into any shoe if they achieve the required effect. They can go into minimalist, maximalist, neutral, or motion-control shoes.

Foot orthoses are like a drug and so are shoes, both have an effect (dosage). What we are trying to do is find the right dosage for you so we can get the desired effect. If we can combine both the shoe and orthoses, we get a net dosage of both. So long as we achieve the right dosage, we achieve the effect.

Remember to always ask questions about your footwear, what the best shoe for your orthotics would be to go into? Timeframes? and any other questions you may have.