Do you feel that your body is not aligned? One leg feels shorter than the other? When you stand and you look in the mirror, do you see one shoulder lower than the other? Do you persist with pain on one side? Is it always on the same side and never the other? Do You Have “A Problem Side?” What I hear on a daily basis in the clinic is “I always have problems on this side, it is my foot one week, my knee the next, and then my back and neck goes but it’s always on the same side.” As adults we have symptoms, years of being out of alignment but in kids you can see it too. Take a look at your kids, do their knees touch when they walk? Are they always swayed to one side when standing? Are they already complaining about growing pains? These are all signs of the body being stuck to one side. As I like to say “Stuck in a turn”. See we move forward and walk by turning from our right left to our left. Our hips and ribcage have to turn left and right. If the turning is equal on the left and right, the feet will hit the ground in the same place, at the same time. It should be nearly equal contact time with the ground. If you have the above symptoms, you are out of alignment and “stuck in a turn”. That is why you are feeling stiff or sore, you have spent years with your body feeling “out of place”. When you were younger, you didn't feel any symptoms, but it was there to be seen. A trained eye would see it and I would resolve it sooner rather than later. Be it ten, twenty or sixty years of age, you need a helping hand to get your body back aligned. Maybe my hands will be enough or maybe you need a constant hand, a piece of custom footwear that you put in a shoe called a foot orthotic.
What do orthotics do?
Orthotics are insoles that you place in your shoe that can influence how your body is aligned. A foot orthotic is a powerful tool to help align the body as you are using them throughout the day so your body gets a constant flow of feedback of the new alignment. The most important part of getting orthotics is the person doing the examination. You cannot just scan the foot and build orthotics, you need to examine the whole body. You see the turn can be coming from the foot, pelvis or ribcage and it’s important to recognise which structure is the driving force before you build out your €500 custom orthotics.
Let me give you an example: get into standing, stand up straight in front of a wall so your middle fingers can barely touch it and keep your feet shoulder width apart.
The answer is simple, the right leg moves off the ground and the right leg is shorter than the other. You are stuck in a turn but it does not always come from the feet, it can come from the rib cage or the pelvis. A simple heel raise does not do the trick here, it will actually make the turn worse because all you are doing is giving a turn a helping hand to turn more. You are sitting at home reading this saying: “Well I was given a heel raiser and it gave me relief”. Yes I know it did, on that spot of pain you complained about then but now it’s somewhere else, isn't it? All that person did for you was move it further up the chain. They didn’t correct it! This is the reason you need to examine the whole body first and then build out your custom orthotics, simply looking at the feet can work some of the time but I would rather be sure that I am preventing the turn instead of progressing it.
Does orthotics work for everyone?
The answer is they work for who needs them, you need a full examination to identify what will work for you. Buying a pair in your local chemist for €20 will give you great comfort with the extra padding but will do very little to realign your body. Understanding that buying a pair that says custom built on the label does not mean they are custom built, they are generally built and relabeled custom built, good old marketing! A custom built orthotic involves a 3D scan of your foot, along with a full body movement examination, walking examination and then a propulsion strength test. This is what we do in my clinic as this gives me the best opportunity to get results. Your custom orthotics should stop the feeling of having “one leg shorter than the other” and should stop the feeling “Not aligned”. The next time you look in the mirror the shoulders should now be the same height. The orthotics should start to take away the aches and pains and stop it being always on “one side”. Too many people wear orthotics for years which are making no difference, they should change your symptoms in weeks.
In the picture below, is one of my clients that we tried everything in the clinic to realign him. His back was in a bad spasm and we needed to build orthotics to help get him aligned. Picture A and B were taken 3 weeks apart. The orthotics gave me the opportunity to then train this client to be strong in his new orthotics, for him the orthotics were the opportunity he needed to improve. You see I myself personally wear orthotics day to day, I have to because I was born with Knee valgus (Knock knees) that caused two cruciate knee injuries before my twenties. I know my parents would have got me orthotics if they knew the signs, they bought me everything else growing up. Orthotics are about the person that examines you and gives you the right helping hand, they are built wrong everyday because they just look at the feet. The body is One, you need to treat it as One.