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Tips to assess if I need orthotics

Primarily, the use of orthotics is recommended for individuals who present with common imbalances of the foot, which are usually divided into two categories. There are those who overpronate (roll-in) and those who over supinate (roll-out). Mis-aligned bones and weak arch muscles can account for these imbalances. Correct motion of the foot is a balance between pronating and supinating which allows weight to be distributed evenly to all areas of the foot, allowing for a correct gait.

There are usually certain characteristics which indicate whether an imbalance is present:

Pronated Feet

In pronated feet, when standing, there is usually either no arch present in the foot, or a very low arch. In significantly pronated feet, the collapsed arch may cause the inner side of the foot to roll inwards, causing the foot to point outwards. Other symptoms are pain in the foot, (particularly in the arch) and pain that increases upon activity. There may also be obvious signs of wear to the inner side of the bottom of the shoe.

Supinated Feet

The supinated foot is usually rigid with a high arch. In the normal foot you can see the Achilles tendon run straight down the leg into the heel. If the foot is supinated, the tendon will run straight down the leg, but when it lies on the heel it will twist inward. There may also be obvious signs of wear to the outside side of the bottom of the shoe.

A Useful Test

A simple and effective test that you can do in the comfort of your own home is the “wet test.” This should help you to assess your own foot type. Wet your feet and step onto a dry surface and then examine your wet foot print. If your foot print does not have a C-curve on the inner aspect of the foot print, you are likely to be a Pronator, if you have a very prominent C-curve on the inner aspect of the foot print, you are likely to be a Supinator and if it's somewhere in between you're likely to have a normal foot.

If you think you might require orthotics it is advised that you seek the advice of an experienced physiotherapist or podiatrist. They will assess your feet and gait further to determine whether orthotics would benefit you. As there are also several types of orthotics designed to correct different imbalances, they will also be able to advise you which type is most suited to your individual needs.

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