How many of us suffer from low back or hip pain? Shin splints? Foot pain? Fallen arches in the feet? Bunions? There are a variety of approaches that can support improved low back, leg and foot health. One of these approaches is a combined approach of shoe orthotic intervention (shoe inserts) and manual therapy. Though the feet and low back are not directly neighboring, it is helpful to understand that they are strongly related. Whereas the forces from the ground enter through our feet as we walk or run, these forces are then transcribed and dispersed up the legs and low back. This process is essential to being able to function through life with any kind of movement. Having mobility in the feet as well as the low back allow us to move through life without pain. When the alignment or biomechanics of the low back and/or feet is affected, we start to ‘break down’. Correcting the biomechanics at these sites in the body typically will help to reduce pain, improve function and strength, and improve overall movement in the whole body.

There are many different brands of shoe orthotics or shoe inserts. Some are soft to attempt to relieve foot pain or pressure on the bottom of the foot. These are often used with people that have medical conditions such as arthritis or diabetes. More rigid foot orthotics are also available. These were developed to control the posture of the foot during walking, specifically when the foot hits the ground. Many people are aware that their foot position is important when running. They ‘pronate’ which means that their foot arch collapses and the foot rolls inward, contributing to conditions like foot pain, shin splints, and reduced performance.

Biomechanics of the low back, or healthy alignment of the low back joints, serves as the foundation to the house that is our body. This is like the alignment of a car. If the car alignment is ‘off’, the tires will wear down incorrectly. If your low back, hip, knee, ankle or foot alignment is ‘off’, you may develop ‘wear patterns’ in other joints. Commonly, when the mechanics of the pelvis and legs are faulty, the leg usually rolls inwards during impact with the ground. That rolling inwards of the leg causes our foot flatten and over-pronate.

The position of the foot in such sports as skating or skiing is also very important. When people have foot or ankle pain or other symptoms such as swelling, and they seek therapy for these symptoms, the therapist must evaluate the whole person. Forces from the ground must be normalized through good joint alignment therapy techniques or the stresses of this joint dysfunction can cause pain.

Custom orthotics are precisely measured to each person’s foot. A rigid orthotic helps to change the forces traveling from the ground as they contact the foot. Sole Supports®, a brand of custom rigid orthotics, offers a unique quality to orthotic intervention. Firm orthotics actually distribute the forces evenly. Whereas most custom orthotics maintain a corrected posture of the foot during standing, Sole Supports® orthotics maintain this optimal foot posture throughout the whole walking cycle, from standing through ‘swing phase’. This is very important especially at heel strike when the heel first hits the ground.

At Integrative Wellness & Physical Therapy, our Practitioners frequently incorporate Sole Supports® orthotics into a treatment program to optimize healing and elimination of pain. People may experience many positive results from wearing orthotics in their shoes that include reduced back pain and foot pain, reduced shin splints, as well as improved endurance, faster running, and better athletic performance. Even sciatica or disc degeneration can be improved by proper dissipation of these forces from the ground.