There are myths about physiotherapy that have kept some people from leveraging its benefits for greater health and wellness. Those have all been debunked, but we find that there remains to be misconceptions surrounding one key area – orthotics. Today we’re going to tackle those myths so that you can finally take steps to correcting a wide variety of ailments that begin with your lowest extremity.
Dispelling 5 Common Myths and Misconceptions About Custom Orthotics
1. They Are for the Elderly
This is the most common concern we hear when we suggest orthotics to younger (40 and under) patients. Orthotics exist to correct your gait, or in other words, your manner of walking. When there is an abnormality with your gait there is a deviation from normal walking. Issues with the integration of systems, including strength, sensation, coordination, and function do not just pop up later in life. They typically begin in your childhood. So if anything, you should consider the application of orthotics most necessary at an early age when it is easier to take corrective action.
2. They Are for Inactive People
This ties into the same pattern of thinking above. Many people assume gait problems (and therefore orthotics) are also the result of inactivity, obesity, and all-around poor fitness. This is not the case at all. In fact, athletes often benefit from orthotics more than most because they not only have to be concerned about their walking gait, but their running gait as well. Athletes (casual or competitive) spend more time on their feet than most, and subsequently put more stress on their feet, legs and back than those who are less active. For this reason it is common to see issues such as plantar faciitis, overpronation and Achilles tendon strains in athletes. All of these can be prevented by early application of orthotics.
3. They Hurt or Are Uncomfortable
This misconception is born from the fact that many people associate orthotics with the shoe inserts/insoles purchased from the pharmaceutical section at Walmart or SuperStore. Sure, when plucking an “off the rack” pair of inserts you are likely to experience discomfort and even pain. This is because they have not been custom prescribed for you. Sorry, but that Dr. Scholls kiosk does not compare to a visit with a physiotherapy clinic with a chiropractor who will perform a comprehensive gait analysis and top-to-bottom examination. When your orthotics are custom-fitted and prescribed by a chiropractor, you will experience the exact opposite of pain and discomfort after a very brief period of adjustment.
4. Over-the-Counter Insoles Are Just as Good
This carries over from the myth above. While you may have found a pair of over-the-counter (OTC) inserts/insoles that are pain-free and feel comfortable, they are nothing more than a bandaid fix when compared to custom orthotics. No matter how many varieties they have on display, OTC insoles are not individually designed for YOU and therefore cannot possibly provide the same level of relief, stabilization, nor correction. You may think you’re saving money with OTC options but they are not made from the same premium materials – you’ll go through a large number of them through the months and years to come. Custom orthotics on the other hand, are manufactured to last years. A small investment today pays off much more in the long run.
5. Your Feet Will Weaken and Get Dependent on Orthotics
Some people look at orthotics like a brace or cast that protects a joint, ligament, or bone during an injury. In turn, they assume that foot muscles begin to atrophy and become weaker as they are solely (pun intended) dependent upon the orthotics. Stop using them for a week and you crumble underfoot. This is a complete misnomer. Instead, orthotics exist to support, stabilize, and correct your gait. This will allow you to walk better, run better, and exercise better which collectively will serve to strengthen your lower extremities.
Learn more about what custom orthotics can help with and schedule a consultation at our Burnaby clinic today for a gait analysis.