Bio-Mechanics & Orthotcs
Bio-mechanics can be described as the study of how living things move, within podiatry, bio-mechanics is the study of how humans move with a specific interest in how we walk, run and stand.
When we perform any kind of movement, from climbing a mountain to clicking a mouse; what takes place is an intricate cascade of bones, joints, muscles, ligaments, tendons and nerves all working together to carry out our desires and impulses. Sometimes we are aware of this happening but when it comes to our feet and legs, most of the time we are not, because of this we usually don’t realize when something is wrong.
There are hundreds of different structures that are involved in even the most basic of movements. Quite commonly, we don’t use the most efficient method to move and so problems ‘build up’ in areas which end up working too hard or indeed not enough. Muscles which are overloaded can become strained or muscles which are underused can become weak or tight. In time, this causes a ‘drag’ on the system as a whole and ‘slow injuries’ can start to manifest. Pain or problems don’t necessarily occur around the problem area for example an ankle which is working badly may cause one of the knees to hurt.
Our ancestors didn't walk on concrete or tarmac, but on uneven surfaces of differing degrees of hardness. We have a foot which is a miracle of mechanical engineering which adapts to the ground that we walk on. The mid-foot is made up of many tiny bones which form arches. If your foot is not in its strong position (with all these bones lined up) when you are walking on a flat surface, the arches distort and sooner or later problems are likely to develop. The timing of this will depend on many factors, including footwear, occupation, weight, lifestyle.
Generally, long thin mobile feet go out of position more readily than short compact feet with tight ligaments. As the feet are our foundation and are literally at the bottom of a pile of bones stacked one on top of another, if something at the bottom is out of alignment, everything above it is affected to a greater or lesser degree.
There are lots of different injuries people can suffer from, some of them are obvious, like a twisted ankle, but others can be much more subtle and difficult to spot. For example, it is very common for people to under use the muscles inside their feet (wearing shoes and walking on flat surfaces does little to increase or maintain foot strength) but this doesn't hurt during day-to-day activities. If you start a new sport you suddenly require these muscles to work and they can’t cope so they strain, this is a very common reason that sporting feet burn or ache in certain places. We often find that back ground pains or dull aches can be traced back over quite a long time period. Generally, pain is the last thing that happens; it’s the end of a process that may have been going on for ages.
Quick injuries such as twists, sprains and strains are usually the result of bad luck, a slip, stumble or fall. The ability of the body to properly heal following an injury also depends on the way in which that body is working before the injury happened. If, for example, you had been using your ankle poorly for years and years, even if you were unaware of the problem, if that ankle were injured it would be very difficult for it to heal properly. This is why injury sites can become weak areas; because they always were only now there is scar tissue and damage to make matters worse.
Do I need custom orthoses?
Through a range of specialist tests we offer a personalized appraisal of your gait, movement and posture. Your movement assessment may be a recommendation to have custom orthotics.
Custom orthotics can be part of a solution that helps address many issues such as:
- Joint pain in the ankle, hip, knee or foot and toes
- Shin splints, runners knee and pronation
- Bunions, hammer toes and flat feet
- Morton’s neuroma, metatarsalgia and Plantar fasciitis
- How Can Orthotics Help To Keep You Active?
- Orthotics for Walkers
- Orthotics for Runners
- Orthotics for Cyclists
- Orthotics for Snowboard & Ski Boots
- Orthotics for Military and Public Service Workers
- How Are Biped's Orthotics Made?
- What To Bring With You
In any activity, even walking, it is imperative that the feet provide a stable base for the body to move over and a good foot and arch support is essential. The repetitive nature of walking, running and many sports mean that any instability or imbalences are replicated many times over as you move and this can lead to pain and injury. By correcting the feet, independently of each other, we can create a stable base to help keep you active and problem free.
Orthotics for Walkers
Walking has many benefits, but for numerous people it is hampered by pain. Typically footwear designed for walking does not offer much, if any foot support for a foot that has a tendency to roll inwards (pronation). The potential implications on the body are numerous – from toe/foot/ankle pain to knee/hip/back pain.
Taking into account the results an advanced gait assessment, a custom made orthotic would provide the necessary support to minimize the risk factors as indicated below.
An orthotic used for walking is designed to restore your natural foot function and offer good support through the arch and foot. Many complaints such as heel pain, knee pain and lower back pain are caused by poor foot function. Custom made orthotics re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring natural foot function. There are additional benefits for using orthotics as they help to alleviate problems in other parts of the body.
Orthotics for Runners
We offer a specialist running orthotics for running shoes and trainers. With such a high impact sport such as running, where the forces are consistently placed on the same part of the body (as opposed to for example team sports where the body moves around a lot more) having a stable base to load up on is critical. In runners, orthotics can help improve gait and therefore efficiency of running.
Orthotics for Cyclists
Custom cycling orthotics, proper bike fit and cleat alignment, play a huge role in making sure your body is in bio-mechanical alignment with the mechanics of the bike. Custom cycling orthotics can help re-align the foot on the pedal and assist in preventing injury down the road.
Most cycling shoes are not unlike other neutral shoes in that they are made with very little or no arch support that have a manufacturers insert in that is good for just comfort and not to address other issues such as forefoot pain, also common among cyclists. Without the necessary support the foot will rest on the bottom of the shoe, not only will it most likely be uncomfortable, but the lack of support can lead to unnecessary motion of the feet, ankles, and knees leading to an inefficient pedal stroke. The muscles that control motion of the foot and ankle may be over stressed as they try to control this motion– while also trying to keep the knees aligned.
The use of custom cycling orthotics for your cycling shoes will assist in positioning the feet in the most neutral and efficient position so that energy and power will not be wasted during pedaling, and the likelihood of overuse injuries will be minimized.
Orthotics for Ski and Snowboard Boots
One of the most important factors for successful skiing and snowboarding is that the body functions well at an optimal level of balance (proprioception). Without it skiing and boarding are clumsy and awkward often leading to fatigue and even injury.
Proprioception is the sense of position, posture and movement. Poor proprioception leads to poor balance, limits skiing and boarding performance and can lead to a frustrating lack of improvement in ability. In addition poor proprioception can switch muscles off creating joint misalignment and muscular imbalances.
When one of the joints becomes stiff, injured or out of kilter, the nerves inhibit the messages going to the surrounding muscles to avoid further injury. This weakened muscle is disastrous for skiers and boarders because a sustained muscle contraction is needed to perform at any level. To accommodate this the body’s alignment must be addressed to allow for better skiing with less effort.
Put a skiers or boarders imperfect balance right and they can move with agility, strength, carving ability and economy of motion.
The use of orthotic footbeds to return the foot into neutral must be considered as an aid to strive for skiing excellence, as the foot works integrally with the knee, hips and lower back.
Comfort is also a critical factor in ski boots, when the foot is squashed into them for many hours at a time. The more personalized a fit you can get, the better.