Biomechanics of the Foot and Ankle
The foot and ankle are complex anatomical structures that play a pivotal role in locomotion. The bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the foot and ankle work together to transmit forces from the ground up to the body, allowing us to walk, run, and jump. Biomechanical abnormalities can cause pain and dysfunction in the foot and ankle, making it difficult to perform everyday activities.
How Biomechanics Can Affect Your Feet
The way you walk, run, and jump can put a lot of stress on your feet. Biomechanical issues can cause pain and dysfunction in the foot and ankle due to abnormal force transmission. Some of the most common biomechanical problems that can affect the feet include:
- Overpronation: This occurs when the feet roll inward too much when standing and walking, putting excessive stress on the inside of the foot. This can cause pain in the arch, the heel, and along the inside (medial aspect) of the ankle, which can lead to other injuries such as tendonitis.
- Supination: This occurs when the feet do not roll out when standing or walking, placing excessive stress on the outside (lateral aspect) of the foot and ankle. This can lead to frequent ankle sprains and other injuries like stress fractures and peroneal tendonitis.
Biomechanical abnormalities can also cause pain and discomfort in the feet due to overuse. For example, standing or walking for extended periods with a biomechanically unsound foot will incite muscle fatigue and strain. Biomechanical problems may make it difficult to return to activities after an injury, such as a tear or sprain. Poor posture can also be a result of biomechanical faults in the feet causing the knees, hips, and lower back to compensate for these malalignments.
Orthotics for Biomechanics Issues
Orthotics can be used to correct biomechanical abnormalities in the foot and ankle. They are custom-made devices that fit into shoes and help align the foot and ankle correctly. Orthotics are very effective in treating biomechanical problems and relieving pain
Types of Orthotics specifically
There are two main types of orthotics: Functional and Accommodative.
Functional orthotics are devices that help correct biomechanical problems in the feet. These orthotic devices are custom-made from either non weight bearing or partial weight bearing impressions of your feet to specifically balance and realign them.
How do they work?
Functional orthotics work by balancing and realigning the feet thereby controlling the excessive pronation or supination motion of the foot and ankle, and reducing the excessive strain on the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints which causes overuse injuries and pain.
Who should use them?
Functional orthotics are recommended for people who have faulty biomechanics. This includes people with flat feet, high arches, or pronated feet. Functional orthotics are also helpful for people who suffer from chronic ankle sprains or other overuse injuries such as plantar fasciitis, capsulitis, and Achilles tendonitis, just to name a few.
Benefits of Functional Orthotics
Functional orthotics can benefit people with chronic foot pain due to biomechanical problems. Orthotics are beneficial in reducing pain and discomfort, preventing injuries, aligning the feet correctly, improving balance, and promoting stability.
Accommodative orthotics are devices that help improve foot and ankle function by supporting the longitudinal arch of the foot. These devices do not correct for malalignments or imbalances in the foot as do functional orthotics. This form of custom orthotic is made specifically for your feet, from standing weight bearing foam impressions.
The main objective of this type of orthotic is to even the weight distribution along the bottom (plantar) of the foot to prevent excessive pressure points which lead to calluses. This device is commonly used to prevent pre ulcerative calluses in diabetics.
How do they work?
Accommodative orthotics work by providing cushioning and minor support for the feet. The cushioning helps reduce sheer friction and the support evenly distributes weight along the entire plantar aspect of the foot.
Who should use them?
Accommodative orthotics are recommended for people who require both cushion and support to reduce generalized foot pain and callus build up. Patients with Diabetes and Rheumatoid Arthritis most commonly benefit from this type of device.
Benefits of Accommodative Orthotics
Accommodative orthotics can provide many benefits for people with chronic foot pain due to arthritis, calluses, and loss of plantar fat pad. This type of orthotic is beneficial in reducing plantar pressure, reducing sheer friction, preventing callus build up, and improving balance.
Can Over the Counter Supports Improve Foot Biomechanics?
There are different grades of over the counter (OTC) supports which can be purchased in pharmacies, retail stores, and sporting goods stores. Most of these devices are designed to provide cushion for the foot and not structural support, therefore at best providing minimal biomechanical benefits. Medical grade prefabricated supports on the other hand are a perfect union of structural support and cushion. These devices provide more biomechanical benefits than an OTC device but less biomechanical benefits than a prescription orthotic. This type of device is commonly found and dispensed in a physician’s office.
Correct Your Biomechanics of the Foot and Ankle Today
In summary, if you are experiencing pain in your feet or ankle, it is important to see a specialist who will determine the cause and provide the necessary intervention. A specialist will diagnose any biomechanical problems you might have and recommend the best course of treatment, which may include orthotics or a medical grade support.
You can be assured of quality care from the specialists at Crystal Coast Podiatry when your feet and ankles need special attention. Schedule an appointment with a foot specialist today if you are experiencing foot pain due to faulty biomechanics. The foot specialist can assess your condition and recommend the best treatment plan for you. The use of orthotics is an effective way to correct biomechanical issues.
Contact us to today to discuss how to help the biomechanics of your foot and ankle in order to get you back to a pain free lifestyle.