Gary Moller: [DipPhEd PGDipRehab PGDipSportMed(Otago)FCE Certified, Kordel's and Nutra-Life Certified Natural Health Consultant]. ICL Laboratories registered Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Medical Nutrition Consultant.

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Are Formthotics any good for foot problems that require specific treatment?

"I just watched your youtube article on Formthotics, they seem to be just off the shelf products and not specifically for a persons foot, ankle knee or back problems. Problems that require specific treatment."
Frank
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Gary:
Thanks for your inquiry Frank and good question!

Some of the Formthotics are definitely off-the-shelf and take no fitting other than being placed inside the shoe.  The Forthotics Active and Shock Stop, on the other hand, are heat moulded to fit the unique shape of the wearer's feet.  The beauty of the Active and Shock Stop is that they support the feet while not restricting normal, natural foot mechanics.

Here is the link to my range of Formthotics inner soles.

Rigid orthotics alter foot mechanics in ways that I consider to be highly undesirable.  Unless there is a deformity, such as from birth or a traumatic injury, I consider the fitting of orthotics to be unnecessary and undesirable for the vast majority of active people.

Orthotics may possibly reduce a person's foot, ankle, knee or back problems but may not for long and may cause other problems down the line.  If a foot is not allowed to function as an energy absorber and regenerator, then that energy must be transmitted elsewhere when the foot strikes the ground - that means more stress further up the line affecting structures like the Achilles, the lower leg bones and even the knees, hips and back!

By not being able to regenerate that energy into forward drive during the push-off stage of the stride, the runner must expend more energy in maintaining a given speed.  You can always tell when a runner wearing orthotics is running besides you because you can hear them hitting the ground hard with an excessive heel-strike with a style that is more akin "clumping" along than floating along effortlessly.

In my 30 years in this kind of work, I have yet to encounter a pair of orthotics that could not be replaced by a combination of foot and postural exercises and running drills.  The most expensive orthotics I have thrown in the bin exceeded $900.  I did this without hesitation.

If the feet are not functioning as they should the answer is a far cry from orthotics which serve only to enrich the person doing the fitting and making the wearer all the poorer financially and as a fleet-footed athlete.

The solution lies in strengthening the foot muscles and re-educating posture and running form.  This means exercises in addition to running and getting a good coach who is familiar with running drills to improve leg strength and running form.

The most common foot fault, by far, is excessive pronation (foot must pronate, by the way - that's what they do to absorb energy during foot-strike!).  This may be countered by regular practice of the exercise in the video here.



Formthotics are very useful, replacing the existing shoe sole to provide a custom-moulded inner which stops the foot sliding and slamming about in the shoe while providing cushioning to prevent the arch from completely bottoming out as the foot muscles tire.  They do not restrict natural function of the feet.

I have Formthotics Shock Stop in all of my running shoes.  I love them and find that fitting a new pair into an old pair of running shoes is sometimes just as good, if not better, than going out and purchasing a brand new pair.

If you are not convinced about what I have said, then I suggest you invest $50 in a pair and try them out.

But please ensure that you do the foot exercise in the video!



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