Biomechanical orthotics are commonly referred to as foot appliances, inserts, gait plates, and even arch supports. Though they may look like old-fashioned arch supports, true biomechanical orthotics control the foot during the entire gait cycle instead of simply trying to support the arch.
The misalignment and resulting poor function of the bones and muscles of the feet can not only cause painful foot problems, but can also lead to ankle, knee, leg, and even lower back problems.
When the foot comes into contact with the ground, the bones and muscles of the lower extremity interact with each other and move in several directions to help the body absorb shock and adapt to the walking surface. This mobile adaptation is called pronation. When the foot excessively pronates or flattens, abnormal stress is placed on the muscles, ligaments, and bones of the lower extremities producing a variety of symptoms. A biomechanical orthotic acts as a pair of prescription glasses for your feet to maintain your foot in a neutral position in which the bones are aligned in their best weight bearing position.
A non-weight bearing impression or cast of the foot is made with the foot in the neutral position to capture the best angular relationships between the various segments of the lower extremities. Models of your feet are constructed at the laboratory from these impressions, and the bodies of your orthotics are contoured and angled over those models and additional customized corrections and control components are added to the front and rear.
Customizing to your specific needs is done in 27 steps and, instead of empirically adding a little bulk to the arch area, as is the case with most non-customized arch supports, biomechanical orthotics create more normal function of the feet and legs by maintaining the normal relationship between the segments of each foot and leg during the gait cycle. Abnormal motions and jarring effects while walking or jogging are eliminated, producing a decrease or elimination of foot symptoms.
Biomechanical orthotics are commonly used in athletes to treat a variety of ailments including heel pain, arch pain, leg and ankle pain, runner's knee and even low back pain. Accommodative devices may be used to remove stress from painful areas such as bunions, corns and calluses. Orthotics may relieve many foot and leg symptoms of people with diabetes and poor circulation. In children, orthotics are commonly used to correct problems such as in-toeing, out-toeing, flat feet, heel pain, growing pains, and juvenile bunions.