Who needs them?
People with flat feet, arthritis, bunions, neuromas, heel pain, forefoot pain, plantar fasciitis, plantar fibromas, arch pain, leg length discrepancy, and metatarsalgia will run, walk, and feel better with a custom orthotic. Not to be confused with the insoles that you can buy online or in stores, a custom orthotic is tailor made to an individual’s foot.
Anyone with foot, knee or lower back pain should call for a consult to have their gait evaluated. Common problems that can be treated with an orthotic are:
What is a Custom Orthotic?
A custom orthotic is a unique device for your shoe that aligns the foot and ankle into the most anatomically efficient position. They look similar to nsoles, but they are made and work differently.
Custom orthotics are fabricated from a mold of your feet. Unlike an insole, it has modifications and specifications for the heel, midsole and forefoot areas to address various foot problems.
The beauty of a custom orthotic is that it is truly a work of art – no two devices are the same! person can go to two different practitioners for custom orthotics and receive two very different devices. The advantage of the in house lab at Ace Feet is not only years of experience in choosing the right kind of orthotic for individuals, but also that we are available for service on the device throughout its life time.
Do Orthotics Weaken The Feet?
Custom orthotics will not reduce muscles tone or weaken the feet. In many cases they actually strengthen the foot muscles. When the foot is placed in proper alignment allow under used muscles to start performing as they should (and working more than they had been previously!)
A good orthotic will encourage better foot posture and optimize muscle function. You will be using the right muscles at the right time in the gait cycle, minimizing fatigue and maximizing efficiency.
If you have questions or would like to learn more call 781-901-4896.
When winter hits and the snow starts to pile up, there’s no better place to be than on the side of a mountain, swooshing and carving the soft powder. But hours of exercising in thick, heavy, unmovable ski and snowboard boots can take a toll on your feet and ankles. From the toenails to the achilles tendon, we have a basic guide for understanding your apres-ski aches and pains.
Toe Injuries from Skiing and Snowboarding
Your toes are the furthest away from your heart, and therefore, can be the last areas to receive an influx of warming blood flow. Even in thick socks and boots, the toes can go cold and numb while skiing or snowboarding. Some cold toes are to be expected on the mountain, but when are you in danger of frost bite?
Frostbite from Skiing and Snowboarding
Frostbite is an injury caused by freezing of the skin and underlying tissues. Although frostbite is more likely to affect exposed skin, covered toes can be affected. The first signs are a cold numb feeling associated with a pale or reddened skin color. This first stage of frostbite is called frostinip, a reversible condition that does not cause permanent damage. The key is to pay attention to cold toes that become uncomfortable. A trip into the lodge for a rewarming session is a good idea, since continued exposure to cold leads to true frostbite which does leave permanent damage. With frostbite, the skin begins to freeze. Small ice crystals actually form within the skin damaging the cells, nerves and tiny vessels. On the skin surface you will see red, white or blue color changes. Numbness transitions to severe burning pain with attempts at rewarming the affected toes. Severe frostbite will can damage the entire thickness of the skin or even the tissues below. The toes can blacken and turn hard as the skin dies.
Ingrown Toenails from Skiing and Snowboarding
Aside from the cold, the toes move a great deal in a a ski boot and even more in a snowboarder’s boor. The toes, especially the great toe has to move up and down with each turn. If it rubs or presses against the side of a stiff boot you can wind up with anything from a bruised nail fold to an ingrown toenail with an exposed wound where the nail has dug the skin open. Acute treatment with warm water soaks and application of antibiotic ointment works well to relieve pain and keep the are clean. If left untreated, the problem could persist and become infected. At that point antibiotics or possibly even a procedure to remove the side of the nail may be needed.
Arch Pain from Skiing and Snowboarding
Achy arches are common, especially if you’re new to the sport, or haven’t been on skis in a while. The tight boot may hold your feet and ankles in place but the muscles are flexing as you turn and stabilize. Snowboarding especially works out the foot muscles! Transitioning from toe edge to heel edge and back requires a lot of pointing and flexing of the toes. This action happens because of the intrinsic foot muscles which are small muscles located entirely within the foot. They are frequently underused with typical daily activity. In contrast, the large, powerhouse muscles that do most of the work when you walk and run have muscle bellies in the leg and tendons that run to the feet. These larger muscles will curl the toes (think, picking up a towel from the floor with your toes) while the smaller intrinsic muscles pull the toes straight down, the movement you do when you go onto the toe edge. All of these movements in a restrictive boot can cause foot ache and arch pain. Custom orthotics can relieve mid-foot and plantar foot aches and pains. A common myth is that orthotics weaken your feet. The truth is, orthotics don’t do any work for you. In fact, people who need an orthotic will exercise more with good biomechanics. Orthotics provide mechanical advantage by correcting foot posture so that the muscles and tendons work efficiently. A gait analysis is a good way to your biomechanics foot posture. The right insole can keep you moving!
Achilles Tendinitis from Skiing and Snowboarding
Pain at the back of the heel with swelling and even mild redness are signs of achilles tendinitis. This problem tends to occur when the calves are tight and/or when the ski boots don’t fit properly. A quick fix for an acute attack of achilles tendinitis is to wear a high heeled shoe and avoid going barefoot for a few days. Lifting the heel places slack (relieves tension) on the Achilles tendon and allows the inflamed area to calm down. Of course, ibuprofen and ice will relieve inflammation and pain. Treatment for a prolonged achilles tendinitis involves calf stretching, rolling, and proper shoes/boots.
Shin Splints from Skiing and Snowboarding
Shin splints cause pain on the front lower leg, where the bone meets the soft tissue. It’s actually an inflammation of the interface between muscle and bone. When this occurs after a day on the slopes, a poorly fitting boot is usually to blame. Rest is usually required to relieve the ache but ibuprofen and ice can make you feel better fast.
At Ace Feet, we help treat a wide range of foot problems, including issues resulting from skiing and snowboarding. If you have any questions or concerns about any of these issues, or if you would like to book and appointment, you can contact Dr. Thompson here.
Anyone who has had to wear a walking boot or surgical shoe knows how life changing it can be when you’re in pain and can’t walk normally. So, foot health can affect your day to day living…but can it actually be the source of your lower back pain?
If you have rigid feet, the answer is probably yes.
Rigid feet and foot types
Genetics determine your height, your bone structure, and even your foot type. Some people are born with flexible feet that have a lot of movement. These feet move in the arch area, in both an up-and-down as well as side-to-side direction, a combination movement called pronation.
Other people are born with rigid feet that bend at the toes and ankle but hardly at all in the arch area. They pronate very little or sometimes not at all! These feet have traditionally been deemed athletic and are often termed, “quick feet” for their more efficient gait.
To explain foot type and gait efficiency, consider a foot with an arch that flattens and rolls inward as it steps down. This foot then has to roll back outward to realign itself before the heel can lift off the ground and take the next step. This takes time and energy. But it also has a secondary purpose – shock absorption.
How rigid feet cause back pain
Rigid feet don’t waste time pronating. They keep going, one step after another, pounding the ground, heel to toe with every step. They miss out on the shock absorbing benefits of a pronating foot. The impact of ground force translates up the leg, knee, hip, and into the lower back, resulting in pain. Of course, not all back pain is caused by rigid feet and a hard hitting gait style. There are many conditions like spinal stenosis, lumbar herniated disc, spondylolysis, and others. However, many lower back problems like osteoarthritis and lumbar degenerative disc disease become more painful for someone with a rigid foot.
How do you know if you have a rigid foot?
An easy at home test is to compare your arch height while sitting and standing. It’s best to sit on a couch or with your leg resting on an ottoman, your foot relaxed. Look at the curve of your arch. Now stand up and see what happens. Does your arch lose shape? Does it flatten? A little? A lot? People with rigid feet will see little to no difference in the shape and height of their arch when they stand up.
Another at home test is to listen to your walk. Yes, listen to those steps. Do people say that they can hear you coming from down the hallway? Has anyone ever mentioned that it sounds like you’re stomping when you’re really just walking around normally? If so, you probably have a rigid foot. Rigid feet walk hard and tend to pound the ground.
The best way to find out your foot type is to have them evaluated. A gait analysis is helpful for anyone with foot or lower extremity pain as often small variances in your usual walk can cause discomfort and limit activity. Sometimes old injuries, surgeries, and certain medical conditions will cause people to walk differently. If not addressed, imbalance can develop into muscle strain and overuse type injuries. Most of these issues can be safely and easily improved with the use of a custom orthotic.
Can custom orthotics help lower back pain?
A simple and cost effective way to address this pain is a custom molded, custom built orthotic. This is a full length insole that is built to provide cushion in the high impact areas (ball of foot and heel). It should have an arch that comfortable meets the natural arch – not so much that it presses against the foot and resists pronation but just enough that it meets the foot when it is fully on the ground, helping to disperse the ground reactive forces.
Curious if foot problems could be causing your lower back pain? If you are in the South Shore, MA area and would like to schedule a consultation, call us at 781-901-4896 or get in touch here.