Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis – The Great Debate 

Intro

Millions of people have chosen the prescription of orthotics for plantar fasciitis as part of their attempts to free themselves from pain. Many claim great success using orthotics for plantar fasciitis while others find the results to be more on the ‘meh’ spectrum.

Let’s look at the arguments for and against custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis; then we’ll look at some of the pitfalls in using custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis. 

 Arguments Against The Use of Custom Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis 

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are rigid and they inhibit happy health dynamic foot function. The human arch is a living tissue and it doesn’t want hard, rigid support under it. 

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are fundamentally unnatural, they rob the foot of its ability to support itself – much like the common and generally wise criticism of neck braces.

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are just plain unnecessary – all you need is exercises. If the muscles in your leg and foot are strong you don’t need any artificial supports. 

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are just plain unnecessary – all you need is pain relief. If the pain is gone you must be cured. 

Orthotics for plantar fasciitis don’t always seem to relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis. If a type of device doesn’t offer short term relief to sufferers it’s value is questionable. 

Arguments For The Use of Custom Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis 

Modern orthotics for plantar fasciitis are no longer rigid they are dynamic and flexible:

Orthotics have been shown in numerous studies to help significantly with the prevention of pain and injury in highly active individuals eg. Soldiers.

Concrete, tarmac & paving slabs are more unnatural than orthotics due to their utterly inflexible and uncontoured nature, orthotics for plantar fasciitis protect us from them.

Exercises are essential for the management of plantar fasciitis but their value and effectiveness doesn’t imply value in the exclusion of orthotics for plantar fasciitis. 

The human arch was designed to receive support, it receives support virtually all the time while you are walking in nature either from sand, mud or vegetation which all push up under the arch as we leave footprints.Orthotics mimic that natural support.

Natural surfaces provide more shock absorption for the heel than concrete  and paving by a huge margin .. why would we not consider devices that bring the shock in our heels closer to natural/normal levels. 

Ending The Great Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis Debate Once & For All

The easiest and clearest way to end the debate on the value of custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis is to just touch on a handful of irrefutable key points…

Our ancestors walked on flexible and contoured surfaces for millions of generations – whereas now we walk almost exclusively on hard flat inflexible surfaces. Orthotics for plantar fasciitis are more flexible and contoured than the concrete under your feet therefore they make the feet’s ‘environment’ more natural as opposed to less natural.

Natural surfaces tend to push up under the arch of the bare-foot as the human form walks and runs – it’s natural to have arch support in other words. In addition it is vitally important to have muscle support of the arch but muscular support is not a replacement for external support. 

Orthotics have been studied extensively and there is plenty of data that indicates they are effective for a spectrum of pain disorders. Anecdotally they are a solution that has been embraced and endorsed by literally millions of people. Whether they work for your particular case of foot pain or not, they warrant open minded consideration.

Modern orthotics are flexible and dynamic in nature – as opposed to the hard blocks of the bad old days. This fact throws out any comment on them inhibiting foot function in that way. In fact we now know that by having the arch supported gently, the foot and even spine muscle functions improve as opposed to decline because of the stimulus to nerve cells in the arch 

The Pitfalls of Using Custom Orthotics For Plantar Fasciitis 

As I mentioned above there are  plenty of people who have found orthotics for plantar fasciitis to be somewhat ‘meh’ in the results department. Here is an overview of some of the pitfalls that can lead to average outcomes using orthotics for plantar fasciitis. 

Too Stiff 

The first major pitfall is potentially being prescribed custom orthotics for plantar fasciitis that are too stiff or over corrective. An orthotic that is excessively stiff can traumatise not only the plantar fascia but the entire lower limb. Luckily virtually all modern orthotics for plantar fasciitis are nice and flexy, but be careful out there,  and always ask to see a sample orthotic before you put any money down on a custom job.  

Too Limp 

In our current state of the professions it is much more common to be prescribed an under corrective orthotic than it is an excessively stiff orthotic. 

On a daily basis I am asked by patients why they have only had partial relief from the orthotics for plantar fasciitis that they have shown up to my clinic with. I am forced to explain that if you can come even close to depressing the arch support of your orthotic with your finger it is essentially offering zero correction when\ your entire body weight lands on it at speed. 

Do this test yourself .. if you can press the arch down on your orthotic easily with a finger the most it will be doing for you is providing some cushioning. 

Too Fast Too Furious 

Listen to me carefully please. If you make the decision to go from living without orthotics for a large portion of your life to wearing them full time (as you probably should if you are reading this) big changes are going to happen in your body. 

When the long overdue arch support shows up your body makes changes that are still being calibrated from 6 months to a year after you start wearing orthotics for plantar fasciitis, I guarantee it. This means millions of tiny incremental adjustments through thousands of muscle bundles and joint capsules over a long period of time.

If you disrespect the gradual nature of this process you could suffer terribly in the short term. There are systematic ways  like the ones we use at my clinic) of carefully adapting to orthotics for plantar fasciitis over a period of time. If you rip, shit or bust on your orthotic for plantar fasciitis prescription, and just throw them into your shoes and go running expect knee pain, hip pain, increased foot pain and possibly even headaches. Here endeth the lecture. 

Too Seldom

Easily the most common mistake I encounter in my many dealing with people using orthotics for plantar fasciitis is not wearing them all the time. There are many reasons that people end up not wearing their orthotics for plantar fasciitis all the tiime. The 2 most common are – not realising that they need to be worn all the time in order to work – the second is not having the right orthotics for the job. 

The vast majority of us need 2 pairs of orthotics in our lives, a pair for sports and more active times plus a smaller pair for casual and dress shoes. There are so many reasons to go this way instead of just having one pair but probably the the biggest is making it easier to wear orthotics for plantar fasciitis in all your shoes all the time. 

My disclaimer is that if you are on the beach or on a nice piece of grass it is definitely great to not wear your orthotics and go bare foot all the way, soft ground will always be the best thing for your feet after all !!! 

Conclusion 

There you have it, orthotics for plantar fasciitis are a powerful and essential tool for preventing stress in your feet in the long term. Far from being an artificial support they offer a more natural life for our feet than the combination of fashion shoes and concrete. But like all good things we must utilise them wisely. 

At my clinic we prescribe orthotics for plantar fasciitis as part of a comprehensive pain management and rehabilitation process. We can offer these services both on and off site if you are in need of help and we offer money back guarantees on your satisfaction with our services in many instances. 

 

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