All Posts tagged orthotics

Foot and Back Pain: Is there a connection?

Foot and Back Pain: Is there a connection?

Lower back pain is a complaint that most people will experience to some degree during their lives. Sitting, standing and running posture in combination with muscular imbalances and weakness in the lumbo-pelvic or “core” region have long been widely accepted factors.
The success of mobility, coordination and strength based treatment is evident in the growing popularity of Physiotherapy exercise prescription over the past 5-10 years.
But…….. Is it possible that your unassuming feet are playing havoc with the rest of your body??
First, let me fill you in on the engineering brilliance of the human foot; 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles within the foot and 13 muscles acting on the foot via the leg, all of which harmoniously work together to perform coordinated, powerful movements step after step.
The foot is designed to absorb initial impact via rolling inward (pronation) and lowering through the arch, maintain a stable base of support then act as rigid lever to propel the body-weight forward.
Unfortunately the foot and its components do not always cooperate. Due to mainly genetic factors, the foot can exhibit varying degrees of mobility resulting in either too much “rolling in” or not enough, ultimately we are left with an impaired ability of the foot to absorb, support and propel.
A rigid high arch foot structure is notoriously deficient at absorbing shock resulting in excessive jarring forces transmitted through the lower leg, pelvis and lumbar spine.
An overly flexible foot with subsequent excess pronation and arch collapse has the tendency to “slap” the ground at initial contact, immediately zapping its powers of shock absorption and setting off a chain of biomechanical events that put your precious lower back in a vulnerable position…..
Excess rear-foot pronation will increase internal rotation of the lower-leg (tibia/fibula). This excessive inward “twist” of the leg progresses all the way through the upper leg, the pelvis and stress on the vertebral column.
The human body can be extremely resilient and adaptable. Therefore, even with a less efficient foot type some individuals remain functional without a hint of discomfort. For others it may be the underlying factor to years of chronic, debilitating back pain.
There are many ways to improve the function of your marvellous feet. They are a musculo-skeletal structure just like any other part of the body ie. “the core”.
The mobility, strength  and overall function can be improved with tailored exercise. In some cases additional assistance through specific footwear, with or without foot orthotics may be required to further enhance their function, improve their capacity to absorb shock and protect your back from harm.

More

Foot Pain? Strengthen your foot ‘core’

Foot Pain? Strengthen your foot ‘core’

As your cold-weather footwear makes the seasonal migration from the back of your closet to replace summer’s flip flops and bare feet, don’t underestimate the benefits of padding around naked from the ankles down.

Barefoot activities can greatly improve balance and posture and prevent common injuries like shin splints, plantar fasciitis, stress fractures, bursitis, and tendonitis in the Achilles tendon, according to Patrick McKeon, a professor in Ithaca College’s School of Health Sciences and Human Performance.

The small, often overlooked muscles in the feet that play a vital but underappreciated role in movement and stability. Their role is similar to that of the core muscles in the abdomen.

“If you say ‘core stability,’ everyone sucks in their bellybutton,” he said. Part of the reason why is about appearance, but it’s also because a strong core is associated with good fitness. The comparison between feet and abs is intentional on McKeon’s part; he wants people to take the health of their “foot core” just as seriously.

The foot core feedback loop

McKeon describes a feedback cycle between the larger “extrinsic” muscles of the foot and leg, the smaller “intrinsic” muscles of the foot, and the neural connections that send information from those muscle sets to the brain.

“Those interactions become a very powerful tool for us,” he said. When that feedback loop is broken, though, it can lead to the overuse injuries that plague many an athlete and weekend warrior alike.

Shoes are the chief culprit of that breakdown, according to McKeon. “When you put a big sole underneath, you put a big dampening effect on that information. There’s a missing link that connects the body with the environment,” he said.

Muscles serve as the primary absorbers of force for the body. Without the nuanced information provided by the small muscles of the foot, the larger muscles over-compensate and over-exert past the point of exhaustion and the natural ability to repair. When the extrinsic muscles are no longer able to absorb the forces of activity, those forces are instead transferred to the bones, tendons, and ligaments, which leads to overuse injuries.

It’s not that McKeon is opposed to footwear. “Some shoes are very good, from the standpoint of providing support. But the consequence of that support, about losing information from the foot, is what we see the effects of [in overuse injuries].”

Strengthening the foot core

The simplest way to reintroduce the feedback provided by the small muscles of the foot is to shed footwear when possible. McKeon says activities like Pilates, yoga, martial arts, some types of dance, etc. are especially beneficial.

“Anything that has to deal with changing postures and using the forces that derive from the interaction with the body and the ground [is great for developing foot core strength],” he said.

McKeon also described the short-foot exercise, which targets the small muscles by squeezing the ball of the foot back toward the heel. It’s a subtle motion, and the toes shouldn’t curl when performing it. The exercise can be done anywhere while seated or standing, though he recommends first working with an athletic trainer or physical therapist to get familiar with the movement.

He notes the exercise seems to have especially positive results for patients suffering from ankle sprain, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. It’s even been shown to improve the strain suffered by individuals with flat feet.

The payoff could be more than just physical, as there could be financial savings. With strong feet, McKeon suggests that — depending on the activity — consumers may not need to invest hundreds of dollars in slick, well-marketed athletic sneakers (though he doesn’t recommend going for the cheapest of cheap sneakers, either). People with a strong foot core can actively rely on the foot to provide proper support, rather than passively relying on the shoes alone.

“You might be able to get a $50 pair of basketball shoes that don’t have the typical support that you’d expect. Because you have strong feet, you’re just using the shoes to protect the feet and grip the ground,” he said.

The easiest way to get started on strengthening the small muscles of the foot, though, is to kick off your shoes in indoor environments.

“The more people can go barefoot, such as at home or the office, is a really good thing,” McKeon said.

Ithaca College. “Going barefoot: Strong ‘foot core’ could prevent plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and other common injuries.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 November 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/11/151117181929

More

Foot Pain Innovation: Create custom insoles from a smartphone!

Foot Pain Innovation: Create custom insoles from a smartphone!

The Instituto de Biomecánica (Biomechanics Institute-IBV) has developed SUNfeet, insoles which are customized to the anatomy of the user’s foot, which increase the comfort of footwear and reduce pain and fatigue in the feet. This product is now available in Europe.

These insoles display an innovative technology used in their development: a combination of a system for capturing and digitizing the shape of the foot which is easy and intuitive for the user via smartphone and a 3-D printing system which allows insoles to be manufactured in a totally personalized manner.

SUNfeet arose from the idea of combining the latest trends in health, technology and fashion to develop exclusive insoles which make footwear more comfortable and care for the feet, thus promoting an active lifestyle.

The SUNfeet smartphone app was designed for the 3Dcapture system, making it possible to obtain the shape of the foot extremely accurately and conveniently from any location.

The process is very simple: while seated, the user places the bare foot on one side of a sheet of paper. The app itself will guide him/her until three images of each foot are obtained. The files are then sent to a server which reconstructs the foot in 3-D, using pattern recognition and shape analysis algorithms. The 3-D image of the foot can be displayed on screen in less than one minute. Finally, the system assigns a unique identification code to each image, which will subsequently be used to design the customized insole.

At the same time, this technology is also present in the manufacturing process through 3-D printing, opening the way for more creative designs and the customization of the functional properties of resistance and flexibility, adapting them to the specific needs of each user and activity.

The power and precision of SUNfeet technology allow for optimal customization: not only are the insoles adapted to the anatomy of the foot, but also to the characteristics and lifestyle of each user. With this in mind, three different models of insole have been created (Sports, Casual and Elegant), taking into account the type of activity and the characteristics of the footwear in order to select the most suitable materials and thicknesses. Thus, the impact cushioning, energy return and pressure distribution requirements are adapted to each use and to the characteristics of each individual.

Museum Exhibition

The Instituto de Biomecánica (Biomechanics Institute — IBV) has introduced, as part of the Science Museum “Príncipe Felipe” of Valencia, this SUNfeet technology, incorporated as a new module of the exhibition “We Take Care About Your Quality of Life.”

IBV director, Javier Sánchez Lacuesta, reminded those present that “this exhibition -promoted by CVIDA association- was developed by IBV in collaboration with the Science Museum and opened in October 2007 in order to make available to the citizen technologies, products and services that take care of their health and wellbeing. This is an interactive show in which the visitor can check their skills in different environments and attractions.”

The foot care is essential to reduce hassles that come to limit the way of life. Using comfort insoles helps keep feet healthy during daily activity. SUNfeet combines a precise system of capturing and digitizing the foot and a 3D printing system that allows develop fully customized insoles.

The user can select the insole that best suits his lifestyle: Casual insoles for continued use shoes that achieve comfort and reduce foot fatigue; Elegant insoles that fit with most elegant and formal shoes; and Sports insoles that improve performance and help to prevent injuries.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez, IBV Clothing Director, showed attendees the performance of this system, highlighting the ease of use, accuracy when carrying out the capture of the foot and versatility of the system that allows getting perfectly tailored insoles to the needs and characteristics of the user and the function to which they are intended.

Asociación RUVID. “SUNfeet technology for the customization of comfort insoles using a smartphone.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 October 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/10/151019072208.htm>.

More