It’s all about living your best life. Living life with zest and alacrity. Upping your game. Doing the best you can! Testing your limits! Giving it all you got! This mentality is foundational to a person living a full life and being as productive as they can.
We need to know that being active, productive at play and work, engaging in sporting and athletic activity are all vital human pursuits. Studies have shown that being and staying active, exercising and playing sports increase blood flow to the brain and helps the body build more connections between nerves leading to increased concentration, enhanced memory, stimulation of creativity, and nurturing those problem solving skills. Besides being an elixir for a flagging state of mind, staying active optimizes a person’s physical capabilities, potentials and function. It promotes hormonal and chemical balance in the body feeding back to support healthy attitudes and mental health.
The foot is the platform and foundation from which an active life stems from. Just as seeking out good healthy food is essential to living our best lives, so is keeping our feet healthy and happy, in order for them to accomplish the best work we call upon them to do. This allows us to participate in our energy-producing activities and get the optimum exercise we require, which in turn protects our well-being, state of mind and preserves our longevity. One can see the importance of protecting our sacred foot resources so that we can do our best for as long as possible.
Proper Foot Function Then Becomes A Key To Living Your Best Life
Natural Foot Orthotics allow that to happen. They mandate our feet to assert their proper role in being able to healthfully participate in all kinds of activity including exercise and sports; and in keeping us in the game. The beneficiaries include all genres of people and occupations including those people that in the aging demographic, children, adolescents, athletes, men, women, people who work on their feet all day, people at risk for falls, those that have established foot problems and are seeking out comfort.
It is important to emphasize here that any standing, working on your feet or participating in active exercise and/or sporting activity, as healthy as it might be, can play havoc with the feet; but the benefits of Natural Foot Orthotics help to allay some of these problems.
What Are The Benefits Of Wearing Natural Foot Orthotics?
Proper body mechanics is a mandatory requisite for peak performance in any activity, whether it be at work, play, exercise or in sporting activities. Remember the old classic song: Dem Bones? It was prophetic to discuss the impact that each part of the body had on another, way before the computerized scientific evidence authenticated this information. The impact that the head, neck, shoulders, spine, hips, knee, ankle and feet have and the relationship and functional interplay between these bodily parts is an essential part of this conversation. The alignment of these different segments is termed Kinetic Chain and is responsible for our posture when walking and running; and a poor posture is often involved in major and painful pathology. For instance, if our neck is out of line, it has injurious effects all the way down to our feet; and when our feet are off balance it has a likewise effect all the way up to the head and neck. I now ask the rhetorical question:
How Important Is Wearing Natural Foot Orthotics To Our Overall Health And Well-Being?
Natural Foot Orthotics become the germinal launching point for the shielding of damaging influences on your feet; especially those which are clinically challenged, painful, unbalanced or out of line. Whether you work on hard floors or cement, stand or walk on your feet all day; or are a runner, jogger, or weightlifter, tennis player or participate in any athletic endeavor or have flat feet, high arches, a foot deformity, foot pain, heel pain, plantar fasciitis, or arthritis you are at risk for detrimental pressures being put on your feet.
Depending on your individual activities, there are basically three types of pressure on the feet that need to be modulated.
- There is direct pressure commonly called pounding pressure. In walking with repetitive stress 25-75 pounds per square inch of pressure is delivered to the foot with each step.
- There is also shearing, or tearing pressure as the foot moves from side to side within the shoe or when barefoot. This pressure is determined by force applied to the feet by side to side motion, often associated with over-pronation and commonly leads to plantar callous.
- Friction, or rubbing pressure is the third kind of pressure delivered to the foot during walking. This is usually associated with the tightness of the shoes, the shape of the feet and toes, and rubbing on the back of the heel or on top of the toes.
Pressure is defined as force over a unit area. The formula for this is Pressure = Force/Area. One could deduce from this formula that the more area that a certain force is delivered to the less the pressure. Let me relate this to the foot. The greater the sole, the inside of the shoe and the insole ( or orthotic ) are, the less pressure is on the feet. Therefore wearing an appropriate size Natural Foot Orthotic should reduce the pressure on the foot; and foot problems usually involve some type of pressure.
Different Benefits For Different Needs
We can discuss the benefits of wearing Natural Foot Orthotics as they relate to the following categories:
The senior population, the childhood population, the athletic population, pregnancy, the working population and several disease states, such as osteo-arthritis and diabetes mellitus.
Foot Orthotics Can Offer Several Advantages For Seniors:
- Enhanced Stability: Orthotics provide increased stability in walking and therefore better balance; thereby reducing the risk of falls, particularly for those with gait abnormalities or foot-related issues.
- Pain Relief: Orthotics can help alleviate foot pain and discomfort caused by conditions like arthritis, plantar fasciitis, or bunions, and can actually aid in slowing the progression of these problems. They do this by providing cushioning, support, proper alignment and reducing pressure on sensitive areas.
- Improved Mobility: Seniors often face mobility challenges. Orthotics can improve mobility by helping to correcting gait abnormalities, providing arch support, and facilitating proper foot mechanics, allowing seniors to move with greater ease and confidence.
- Decreased Joint Stress: Orthotics help distribute forces evenly across the feet, reducing stress on joints such as the ankles, knees, and hips, as previously explained in this article. This can be especially beneficial for seniors with degenerative joint conditions like osteoarthritis.
- Prevention of Foot Deformities: Orthotics can help prevent the development or progression of foot deformities, such as hammertoes or flat feet. By providing biomechanical control they encourage corrective support of the foot arches, they promote proper foot alignment and prevent excessive strain on the feet.
- Customization: Orthotics can be custom-made, custom fit or custom ordered to fit the unique needs of each individual. Different types of orthotics address various specific foot conditions, accommodate foot shape variations, and suit lifestyle requirements, maximizing their effectiveness.
- Improved Overall Comfort: By providing cushioning, shock absorption, and stability, orthotics enhance overall foot comfort. This can contribute to improved quality of life, allowing seniors to engage in daily activities with reduced foot-related discomfort.
Orthotics Can Offer Several Advantages For Children:
- Correcting Foot and Leg Alignment Issues: Orthotics can help address foot and leg alignment issues in children, such as flat feet, high arches, or inward or outward turning of the feet. By providing corrective support, orthotics promote proper alignment and development of the feet and legs.
- Managing Overpronation or Supination: Overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the feet) or supination (excessive outward rolling of the feet) can cause imbalances and contribute to various foot problems. Orthotics can help control and manage these issues by providing stability, improving gait biomechanics, and reducing stress and pressure on the feet and lower limbs.
- Alleviating Pain and Discomfort: Children may experience foot pain due to various factors, such as growth spurts, sports activities, or certain foot conditions. Orthotics can provide cushioning, shock absorption, and support, reducing pain and discomfort and allowing children to engage in activities with greater ease.
- Enhancing Sports Performance: Active children involved in sports can benefit from orthotics, as they can improve biomechanical efficiency, reduce the risk of injuries, and enhance performance by optimizing foot alignment, shock absorption, and stability.
- Preventing Foot Deformities: Orthotics can help prevent the development or progression of foot deformities in children, such as bunions, hammertoes or Achilles tendon issues By providing proper support and alignment, they promote healthy foot development and reduce excessive strain on growing feet.
- Supporting Special Conditions: Children with certain medical conditions like cerebral palsy or spina bifida may have unique foot and gait challenges. Orthotics can be fit to accommodate specific needs, providing customized support and assisting in mobility and functional improvement.
- Accommodating Orthopedic Devices: In some cases, children may require braces, casts, or other orthopedic devices. Orthotics can be used to support these devices, ensuring optimal biomechanical control, comfort, and functionality.
Orthotics Can Offer Several Advantages For Athletes:
- Improved Biomechanics: Orthotics can optimize foot and lower limb alignment, promoting proper biomechanics, and balance during athletic activities. They can help correct issues like overpronation or supination; providing stability, reducing excessive stress and pressure on the feet and legs, and improving overall movement efficiency.
- Enhanced Performance: By improving foot alignment, shock absorption, and stability, orthotics can help athletes perform at their best. They can enhance power transfer, reduce fatigue, and provide a solid foundation for various sports movements, such as running, jumping, cutting, and pivoting.
- Injury Prevention: Orthotics can play a role in preventing common sports injuries, including shin splints, stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, and Achilles tendonitis. They provide cushioning, pressure relief, reduction of excessive forces on the feet and lower limbs, and help maintain proper alignment, minimizing the risk of overuse injuries.
- Increased Comfort: Athletes often put significant stress on their feet during training and competition. Orthotics offer additional cushioning and shock absorption, reducing discomfort and fatigue, particularly during high-impact activities or prolonged periods of training.
- Customized Support: Orthotics can be made or selected to the specific needs of each athlete. They can be fit to accommodate individual foot shape, arch type, and sport-specific requirements, providing personalized support and maximizing the effectiveness for each athlete.
- Rehabilitation and Post-injury Support: Orthotics can assist in the gait rehabilitation process after a foot or lower limb injury. They can provide stability, protect injured areas, and facilitate proper healing and recovery and allow weakened and stiff muscles to proper adjust to a person’s normal activity. Additionally, orthotics can be used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan to manage chronic conditions or support post-surgical recovery.
- Adaptability to Different Footwear: Orthotics can be easily transferred between different athletic shoes, allowing athletes to maintain consistent foot support and comfort across various activities and footwear choices.
Orthotics Can Offer Several Advantages For Individuals Who Work On Their Feet All Day:
- Enhanced Comfort: Standing or walking for extended periods can lead to foot fatigue, discomfort, and pain. Orthotics provide additional cushioning, shock absorption, and support, reducing the strain on the feet and providing enhanced comfort, function and strength throughout the workday.
- Reduced Foot and Leg Pain: Individuals who work on their feet may experience various foot and leg conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain, shin splint and/or nerve pain. Orthotics can help alleviate these issues by providing proper arch support, distributing pressure evenly, and promoting proper foot alignment.
- Improved Posture and Alignment: Orthotics can help maintain proper posture and alignment while standing or walking for long durations. By providing support to the arches, helping to prevent excessive pronation or supination they optimize foot biomechanics and offer relief from various pressures. In so doing orthotics help prevent and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal imbalances and related pain throughout the kinetic chain.
- Prevention of Overuse Injuries: Constantly being on one’s feet, and especially on hard surfaces, can increase the risk of overuse injuries, tendonitis, shin splints and stress fractures. Orthotics help absorb shock, reduce repetitive stress on the feet, and provide stability and biomechanical control, minimizing the likelihood of these injuries.
- Increased Energy and Productivity: By reducing foot fatigue and discomfort, orthotics can help individuals feel less fatigued and more energized throughout the workday. This can contribute to increased productivity and overall job performance and satisfaction.
- Support for Specific Occupational Requirements: Certain occupations involve unique foot-related challenges, such as healthcare professionals who spend long hours standing or workers in industries that require heavy lifting. Orthotics are very advantageous in addressing these specific work related issues, providing valuable support and protection.
- Accommodation of Foot Abnormalities or Conditions: Individuals with pre-existing foot conditions or abnormalities can benefit from orthotics that are selected for their specific needs. Orthotics can help manage conditions like flat feet, bunions, or arthritis, providing the necessary support and reducing pain and discomfort associated with these conditions.
Foot Orthotics Can Offer Several Advantages For Pregnant Women:
- Alleviation of Foot and Ankle and Pain along the kinetic chain: Pregnancy often leads to increased weight and changes in posture, which can put additional stress and pressure on the feet, ankles and all of the joints north of that. Orthotics provide cushioning, arch support, biomechanical control and proper alignment thereby reducing pain and discomfort in the feet, ankles, knees, hips, back and neck, which are all commonly experienced during pregnancy.
- Arch Support and Stability: As pregnancy progresses, the hormone relaxin causes ligaments to loosen, potentially leading to overall joint laxity and overpronation (excessive inward rolling of the feet). Orthotics can provide arch support and stability, helping to maintain proper foot biomechanics and prevent discomfort associated with joint laxity and overpronation.
- Reduction of Swelling: Pregnant women often experience edema (swelling) in the feet and ankles due to increased fluid retention. Orthotics create a situation which facilitates walking and in combination with compression or support hose circulation is improved, thereby reducing swelling, and enhancing overall comfort.
- Prevention of Foot Problems: Pregnancy-related changes can contribute to the development or exacerbation of certain foot conditions, such as plantar fasciitis, heel pain, nerve pain, neuroma or pronated feet. Orthotics can provide preventive support, reduce pressures and strain on the feet, and minimize the likelihood of these conditions occurring or worsening.
- Enhanced Balance and Stability: The shifting center of gravity during pregnancy can affect balance and stability. Orthotics offer additional support, helping pregnant women maintain balance, reducing the risk of falls, sprained ankles and other injuries; all while promoting good posture and increased confidence while walking or standing.
- Improved Overall Comfort: Pregnancy can be physically demanding, and foot discomfort can add to the overall distress experienced during this time. Orthotics provide cushioning, shock absorption, and relief from foot fatigue, and imposing pressures enhancing overall comfort throughout the day.
- Postural Alignment: Orthotics can help maintain proper posture and alignment as the body undergoes changes during pregnancy. They assist in balancing weight distribution, supporting the arches, aligning the feet and promoting optimal body alignment thereby helping to prevent secondary injurious sequelae.
In summary, our feet certainly play a critical role in our lives. They provide us with stability, mobility, and support as we go about our daily activities. Our feet help us stand, walk, run, and engage in various physical pursuits. Keeping our feet healthy, which includes wearing good shoes and the right arch supports, has an immeasurable impact on our overall well-being and productive life. So, while feet are not the only platform of life, they are undeniably crucial in facilitating our movement and allowing us to participate fully in the world around us.