When you look at all of the different types of foot injuries, conditions, and deformities that are out there—heel pain, bunions, neuromas, tendinitis—you find that a shockingly high percentage of cases can all be traced, at least partially, to one fundamental problem: biomechanics.
Fortunately, high quality orthotics can help provide your feet with the extra support, stability, and shock absorption they need for optimal biomechanical function. This helps keep you on your feet and living your life to the fullest without pain.
At Silicon Valley Podiatry Group, we’re one of the best in the Bay Area at making sure you get a pair of orthotics that fit your feet and your lifestyle.
The Problem with Bad Biomechanics—Foot Pain and More
Under “normal” circumstances, your feet are designed to gently disperse the weight and pressure of your steps. The arches flex. The heels cushion. The feet pronate just the right amount—not too much, not too little. Weight transfers smoothly.
But not everybody enjoys these ideal circumstances. Many of us were born with, or later developed, foot structures or gait abnormalities that prevent our feet from working as efficiently as they should.
Combine that with the fact that most of us, unlike our long-ago ancestors, spend all day wearing tight shoes and standing and walking on hard and flat artificial surfaces, and it’s no wonder so many people struggle with foot pain and deformity.
But it isn’t just feet. Remember that your feet are the foundation of your entire body. And just like a crumbling foundation can cause problems throughout your house, poor foot biomechanics force knees, hips, and back to adjust and compensate. This can cause pain throughout the entire body.
The Solution: Orthotics
What do you do when your foot structure itself makes daily activities painful for your feet? Severe deformities (like totally collapsed arches or bunions) might be best addressed with reconstructive surgery, but that’s not going to be a viable option for most people who have more subtle imperfections in their foot structure.
Fortunately, orthotics can be highly effective at rebalancing forces across your feet and adjusting your biomechanics so you don’t walk with pain any more.
You can think of them sort of like they’re glasses or contacts for your feet. Just like corrective eyewear, they don’t “fix” the problem in a permanent way. You still have to wear them every day to get the benefit.
But when you do put those orthotics on, you give your feet the extra help they need to support your body comfortably and effectively, so you can go out and live the life you want to live.
Types of Orthotics
Accommodative vs. Functional
One way to think about different types of orthotics is in what they do, or the role that they play for your feet. Here, there are two main categories: accommodative and functional.
Accommodative orthotics, as the name suggests, accommodate. They don’t so much correct a biomechanical problem as they reduce the amount of pressure, shock, and shear on your bones, joints, and tissues when bearing weight. They are typically made from soft materials and are usually best for conditions like diabetic wounds, arthritis, and certain rigid deformities.
Functional orthotics, on the other hand, do fix your biomechanical issues when you wear them. They can do things like control abnormal pronation, support and protect the ankles, and allow your feet to move through the entire gait cycle in a natural way. Because of this, they tend to be made from more rigid or semi-rigid materials, and are great for heel pain, most sports injuries, and other conditions.
Prefabricated vs. Custom
Another way that orthotics are often categorized is by level of customization.
Prefabricated orthotics are made beforehand, often mass produced, and are designed to fit your feet more approximately based on fairly common foot shapes. By comparison, custom orthotics are prescribed by a physician and manufactured at a lab based on the exact specifications of your feet.
As you might expect, prefabricated orthotics tend to be much cheaper, while custom orthotics can treat a wider variety of conditions and might be more effective for those with more severe foot problems. (They also tend to last longer, as well, and can often be adjusted or refurbished as necessary over time.)
Our Orthotics Process
At Silicon Valley Podiatry Group, we take orthotics very seriously. We want to make sure you get exactly the type and size of orthotics you need to relieve your pain and achieve your lifestyle goals—whether that’s using prefabricated or custom devices.
It’s important to remember that, just like glasses, orthotics aren’t going to do you any good if you have the wrong prescription. Buying “orthotic” insoles on your own at the drugstore is most likely going to be a waste of money. Our experience, training, and thorough evaluation of your foot and ankle biomechanics will help ensure you get inserts that will actually work.
The good news is that roughly 4 out of 5 patients who need orthotics do very well with a pair of high-quality prefabricated orthotics—high-quality being the key here. Most of our patients will start with a prefab, and only move on to custom orthotics if necessary.
At SVPG, we carry our own line of medical-grade prefabricated orthotics, specially manufactured for just our group. These orthotics are made from high quality materials and offer advanced features not normally found on your typical “off the shelf” orthotics.
As a result, many people can get results comparable to custom orthotics for a small fraction of the price—a great deal for the majority of our patients!
If you have a more severe biomechanical issue that our prefabricated orthotics cannot address, we will fit you for custom orthotics.
We use a combination of digital scanning technology and high-accuracy foot molds (for those with especially high or flat arches) in order to get the most precise measurements possible for your custom orthotics. Most podiatry clinics do not offer this level of technology, so it’s another big benefit to having SVPG in your corner.
Ready to get started? To schedule your appointment with our team, please call (408) 358-2666 today.