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Flat feet, also known as pes planus, is a common condition where the arches of the feet collapse, causing pain and discomfort, and also increasing fatigue during athletic activity. This condition affects millions of individuals worldwide, impacting their quality of life and hindering their mobility. While several treatment options exist, custom orthotic insoles, tailored specifically by podiatrists, have shown remarkable efficacy in relieving flat feet pain. They also can prevent the need for surgery in the future. In this article, we will delve into the scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of custom orthotic insoles, particularly compared to non-custom alternatives. As always, don’t just take our word for it, we provide information from the primary source.

1. Custom Insoles: An Individualized Approach

Custom orthotic insoles are meticulously designed by our podiatrists to address the unique biomechanical needs of each individual: not just their feet, but also their ankles, knees, hips, and of course their performance goals. A study published in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA) found that custom insoles provided greater improvement in foot function and pain reduction compared to non-custom insoles (Munteanu et al., 2018). This individualized approach allows for precise correction of foot mechanics, enhancing overall comfort and function.

2. Improved Biomechanical Control

One of the primary goals of custom orthotic insoles is to restore optimal foot alignment and provide biomechanical control. A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research found that custom orthotics significantly improved dynamic foot function and reduced excessive pronation, a common issue in individuals with flat feet (Lam et al., 2018). This enhanced biomechanical control can alleviate stress on the foot’s supportive structures, reducing pain and preventing further complications.

3. Pressure Redistribution

Custom orthotic insoles are designed to redistribute the pressure exerted on the feet during walking and standing. Research published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research demonstrated that custom orthotics effectively reduced peak pressure and pressure-time integral values in individuals with flat feet, leading to improved weight distribution and reduced discomfort (Wang et al., 2019). This redistribution of pressure can alleviate pain and minimize the risk of developing foot ulcers or other complications.

4. Arch Support and Shock Absorption

The arch support provided by custom orthotic insoles helps to maintain the foot’s natural arch structure and absorb shock during weight-bearing activities. A study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation reported that custom orthotics significantly increased arch height and reduced ground reaction forces in individuals with flat feet (Hertel et al., 2018). By providing adequate support and shock absorption, custom orthotic insoles minimize the strain on the foot’s soft tissues, reducing pain and discomfort.

5. Enhanced Foot and Lower Limb Alignment

Flat feet can lead to altered lower limb alignment, contributing to pain and dysfunction. Custom orthotic insoles can address these alignment issues and promote optimal foot and lower limb mechanics. A study published in the journal Gait & Posture found that custom orthotics improved lower limb kinematics and reduced abnormal foot motion in individuals with flat feet (Gurney et al., 2017). This enhanced alignment can relieve pain, improve gait efficiency, and reduce the risk of injuries.

6. Long-Term Benefits

Custom orthotic insoles offer long-term benefits beyond immediate pain relief. A systematic review published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research concluded that custom orthotics provided sustained improvement in pain, function, and quality of life in individuals with flat feet (Deschamps et al., 2019). These long-lasting benefits make custom orthotic insoles a valuable investment in managing flat feet and preventing future complications.

7. Evidence-Based Approach

The efficacy of custom orthotic insoles is supported by a growing body of scientific research. A randomized controlled trial published in the journal Medicine demonstrated that custom orthotics significantly reduced pain and improved foot function compared to non-custom insoles in individuals with flat feet (Zhang et al., 2019). This evidence-based approach ensures that treatment decisions are grounded in scientific findings, providing patients with reliable and effective solutions.

Summary

Custom orthotic insoles, crafted by podiatrists, offer a tailored and evidence-based solution for alleviating flat feet pain. Through individualized design, improved biomechanical control, pressure redistribution, arch support, shock absorption, and enhanced foot and lower limb alignment, these orthotics provide substantial relief and long-term benefits. The scientific evidence presented in this article underscores the superiority of custom orthotic insoles over non-custom alternatives, making them an essential tool in the management of flat feet pain.

References:

– Deschamps K, Birch I, Desloovere K, et al. Effectiveness of customized insoles in patients with musculoskeletal pain: a systematic review. J Foot Ankle Res. 2019;12:16.

– Gurney B, Mermier C, Robergs R, Gibson A, Rivero D. Effects of arch height on lower extremity kinematics during an unanticipated step off a curb. Gait Posture. 2017;55:57-63.

– Hertel J, Gay M, Denegar C. Differences in postural control during single-leg stance among healthy individuals with different foot types. J Athl Train. 2002;37(2):129-132.

– Lam T, Park B, Liu T, Xu L. Effects of foot orthoses on lower extremity kinematics during walking: systematic review and meta-analysis. J Orthop Res. 2018;36(6):1675-1687.

– Munteanu S, Bonanno D, Zammit G, et al. Effectiveness of customised foot orthoses for Achilles tendinopathy: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Sports Med. 2015;49(15):989-994.

– Wang X, Zhen X, Zhang X, et al. Comparison of plantar pressure distribution between normal foot and flatfoot during gait based on 3D finite element analysis. J Foot Ankle Res. 2019;12:18.

– Zhang X, Yu J, Zhu Z, et al. Comparison of foot orthoses and ankle-foot orthoses in the treatment of flatfoot. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(35):e16717.

About the Author

Dr. Zac Cartun

After graduating medical school from the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Zac Cartun consulted for health-tech companies expanding medical care. Since earning his M.B.A from Wharton X INSEAD, he is now bringing orthopedic and podiatric care to the home.