Confusion behind OTC orthotics

An immense number of men and women suffer from foot ailments throughout the world. Many will seek relief from Over-The-Counter (OTC) orthotics because they are generally inexpensive and provide soft, temporary comfort for aching feet.

OTC orthotics offer basic support to the feet and cannot fully correct a body’s postural imbalances. The body relies on the complex shape of each foot to provide stability and balance, and OTC orthotics do not fit the mold.

Why?

OTC orthotics typically provide a “one size fits all” support to the medial arch. This has led to a common misconception among consumers that there is only one arch in each foot. Or there is only one arch in each foot that needs treatment.

In actuality, there are three arches in each foot, and they all must be supported. The medial, lateral, and the transverse arches make up the supportive structure in the feet called the plantar vault.

As stated in The Physiology of the Joints, “The plantar vault is an architectural structure which blends all of the elements of the foot – joints, ligaments and muscles – into a unified system.”[1]

How does the plantar vault work?

When standing, the three arches in the feet support the entire kinetic chain, creating an equal foundation for the body. They each work in unison to provide stability for the body. If the medial arch is pronated, it will cause the ankles to roll inward. As a result, the knees will follow suit, which can misalign the hips. That can then lead to imbalances in the neck and shoulders.

There is a high probability that men and women with foot ailments will also have musculoskeletal pain and misalignment in their posture. This is because the plantar vault in the feet has been compromised and is not able to fully support the rest of the body.

Generic

OTC orthotics are similar to the cement foundation that only supports half of the house. While one side is being supported, the other side gets neglected, resulting in an imbalanced structure.

Generic orthotics are designed for one pair to fit millions of people. However, each person has a different body type, activity level and posture. Just as two people will not have the same DNA, two people will not have identical feet. One pair of orthotics will not be able to treat the same ailments for two people.

Individually Designed

Stabilizing Orthotics engage the plantar vault by correctively supporting the arches in the feet, as well as the body’s kinetic chain. This can only be done by making each pair specifically to the needs of the patient.

When each component of the plantar vault is supported by a solid, equally distributed foundation, it is engineered to withstand the different pressures and stresses that the world throws at it.

[1] Kapandji, I.A., (1987). The Physiology of the Joints. Annotated diagrams of the mechanics of the human joints – 5th ed. Volume 2: Lower Limb. Churchill Livingstone

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