Arlington Podiatry Center
611 South Carlin Springs Road
Arlington, VA 22204
A Biomechanical Approach To Foot Pain
Your feet work hard. They support your total body weight. They absorb the shock of your body pounding against the ground and adjust to the many different surfaces you walk or run on. Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and many different muscles, tendons, and ligaments. If any of these bones, joints, or soft tissues are out of place or working incorrectly they can cause your foot to have pain. If you have a medical problem such as diabetes, improper foot biomechanics can cause a serious health risk.
As you walk your heel shifts very slightly from side to side. When your foot hits the ground, the shifting stops and your foot begins to flatten. This effect is called pronation. The opposite movement, or supination, happens as your heel lifts off the ground during propulsion and your foot regains its arch.
If your heel shifts too far when you walk, your foot may overpronate, or flatten too much. This incorrect movement stresses and weakens parts of your foot. Over time, symptoms such as changes in the shape of your foot, fatigue, or pain when you walk may develop.
Some shoe types, such as high heels, or strenuous sports activities, such as running may also stress the bones and soft tissues of your foot. A hip or leg problem can cause the foot to overpronate as you try to compensate for the problem. This incorrect movement sometimes causes your hip or knees to hurt as well as your feet. Some diseases damage the nerves of your feet. This can cause you to be unable to feel a cut or sore on your feet, leading to serious infections and threatening your entire health.
Orthotics are devices made to wear in shoes in an attempt to align the foot in a more neutral/efficient position. Orthotics control movement and stop the strain on your foot by limiting the shifting of your heel and controlling the amount your foot flattens. The stress of beating your body weight is better distributed throughout the foot. Existing bone or tissue changes may not disappear, but the pain associated with them is reduced or eliminated. Sometimes, even your hip or knee pain is dissipated. Since the orthotic is custom made from a cast of your foot, your podiatrist can customize it to relieve the symptoms you have.
Modern technology has influenced the making of orthotics. Computer models, space age materials, and skilled technicians combine to create a pair of orthotics that will last for years to come.
Your foot problem took time to develop, so dont expect the symptoms to disappear overnight. But by wearing your orthotics as instructed, your symptoms will lessen over time. Most importantly, your orthotics will work only if you remember to wear them. And as always, make regular visits to your podiatrist.