All right. So our website URL might be www.JUSTfootankle.com, but the reality is that foot and ankle health doesn’t always just affect that part of your body.
Our focus on podiatric treatments is with the primary goal of providing comfort and relief for feet, but those effects can lead to benefits moving up the body as well. One area where these collateral benefits distinctly shine through is with the use of custom orthotics.
It’s All Connected
Our bodies operate like complex machines; only instead of gears and belts, we have muscles, bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, etc.
When everything is working together properly, we perform at our best and without pain. If something becomes imbalanced or misaligned, however, problems can begin to develop.
When a car falls out of alignment, you start to notice it when you start veering to one side, your tires wear unevenly, and your steering wheel vibrates.
When the structure of your feet are out of balance—either due to genetics, injury, or other causes—you might notice some potential signs, too. The treads on your shoes may be wearing out unevenly, your feet may roll too far inward or outward as you move, or you simply have aching feet!
Custom orthotics address the problems of imbalance by providing corrective support and comfort where you need it. If you have flat feet, for example, an orthotic insert can reduce pain by supporting the arch, relieving excess pressure upon it, and preventing the feet from rolling too far inward.
It can sound like an easy enough task on paper, but the feet have a lot of moving parts! Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 soft tissue connections such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
When we prescribe an orthotic, we want to ensure it is custom-made to address the specific problems that are inherent in your foot structure. This provides you the most comfort without getting in the way and causing any additional problems. Store-bought orthotics, with a “one size fits most” mentality, might have some effect in minor cases, but may be useless or even harmful in others.
The Bigger Picture
Now let’s pull back the scope a bit.
Our feet contain multiple bones and connections that can all start to bear extra stress when something in the structure isn’t quite right. This, however, is also connected to the ankle. If an abnormality is causing the foot to roll and move in ways it isn’t normally supposed to, the joints and muscles in the ankle may also have to move in non-standard ways to compensate for it.
Ride the connections up a bit farther and you reach the knees, then the hips, then the back. All of these areas can be forced to move in unorthodox ways and fire certain muscles over others in order to maintain overall stability.
Over time, these imbalances can lead to pain in these areas as well.Abnormal amounts of stress can begin to be endured by these areas, and the body’s overall ability to absorb the impacts of weight-bearing and movement can dwindle.
If you are suffering from weakness in the ankles, knees that shift inward, aching hips or strains in your lower back, it is possible that the source of it all starts in your feet. We can help you determine whether this is the case and respond accordingly. A pair of custom orthotics can contribute a great deal toward your overall relief. Additional forms of treatment, such as changes in footwear and exercises to strengthen ankles, knees, and hips, may also be recommended as part of an overall plan.
In addition to pain relief, it is also worth considering how custom orthotics can improve the way the body expends energy.
When your body is firing extra muscles to keep itself stable, it is spending more energy to do so. In other words, your body is not moving as efficiently as it could!
For someone who spends all day on their feet, or athletes and others who are frequently active, this “energy leak” can lead to faster fatigue. That fatigue, in turn, can increase the odds of suffering a sports injury.
Many athletes and workers can benefit greatly from the support and correction custom orthotics can provide. If weakness and fatigue are a daily part of your routine (think how you feel after coming home from the job or the field), then it may very well be worth an evaluation of your gait and foot structure.
Setting Your Record Straight
Your feet are the foundation upon which the rest of your body stands. Making sure that foundation is sound is key to operating at your peak.
Your biomechanics—everything that goes into how you move—takes expert insight to understand, especially when it comes to figuring out the root of painful and uncomfortable problems. If you have been having consistent pain in your feet, heels, ankles, or even parts further up, don’t rely on over-the-counter products in an attempt to fix it!
Dr. Yuko Miyazaki and the staff of our Berkley office has the experience and tools to provide exactly what you need for support and correction. Call us today at (510) 647-3744 to schedule an appointment to have your pain and discomfort addressed. If you prefer, you may also use our online contact form to request an appointment or ask us questions.