What are orthotics & who can they help?

pt HealthAnkle pain, Back pain, Foot pain, Orthotics

This article was written by Chelsea Komar, a McMaster University PT student working on placement with Paulette Gardiner Millar.

Foot pain affects between 20-42% of adults 45 years and older, limiting their daily activities. In fact, the foot is very fragile in terms of maintaining equilibrium and when altered can lead to functional deficits and long recovery periods. Orthotics are one of the easiest and most effective preventative measures for correcting foot problems.

What are orthotics?

A foot orthotic is a non-surgical intervention that can facilitate the healing of tissues by allowing them to rest and prevent further malalignment. Orthotics are widely prescribed as part of a treatment plan and a prevention tactic of further injury or disruption of biomechanics. They provide support and correct abnormalities that occur in the body due to poor foot biomechanics.

Your feet impact the proper functioning of your entire body, including your knees, hips, and joints. Proper foot biomechanics help your body move as efficiently and functionally as possible.

It’s important to note that orthotics are not an independent fix and need to be accompanied by other rehabilitation, such as stretching and strengthening. The primary goal of an orthotic is to correct any malalignment of the lower extremities and to improve your movement patterns.

Who can benefit from orthotics?

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, standing or walking, you may experience pain in your ankles, heels, and/or soles of your feet. Orthotics can help to reduce this pain, as well as pain in other areas in the body related to the improper alignment of your feet.

But how do you know if orthotics are right for you? If you’re experiencing any of the following conditions, orthotics might benefit you:

  • Heel spurs
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Recurrent ankle sprains
  • Symptomatic osteoarthritis in feet
  • Shin splints
  • Bunions
  • Lower extremity tendinitis
  • Bursitis in feet/ankle
  • Knee, hip, or back pain

In many of these cases, orthotics can provide support and correct abnormalities that occur in the body due to poor foot biomechanics.

If you experience any of these conditions, we recommend booking an assessment with a physiotherapist at a pt Health clinic near you. They will be able to determine whether orthotics are right for you, and help you get back to your daily activities.


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9. Balsdon M, Dombroski C, Bushey K, Jenkyn TR. Hard, soft and off-the-shelf foot orthoses and their effect on the angle of the medial longitudinal arch: A biplane fluoroscopy study. Prosthet Orthot Int. 2019 Jun;43(3):331-338. doi: 10.1177/0309364619825607. Epub 2019 Feb 14. PMID: 30762477.


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