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Orthotics Do Not Cure Foot Problems
The Spectator
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 by Jon Burras
surfyogi@verizon.net
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     Are you one of the millions of Americans who wake up with painful and aching feet each morning? Do you stumble out of bed on feet that feels like stumps of leather and are difficult to walk on? If this is you then you are not alone.
     An epidemic of feet issues resides across the country from the big cities to the vast landscapes of the open countryside. There are an enormous number of people who have aching feet and just manage to make it through each day. Most people medicate themselves with over the counter pain relievers and others choose to insert orthotics into their shoes. Despite this common trend, neither one of these approaches actually cures the feet.
     There are many reasons for aching feet. You could have an old injury pattern where you were in a car accident or broke a bone in your foot. You might have been an athlete and have run and pounded on your feet for many years. A disease like diabetes might have set in which limits the amount of circulation to the foot area. You might have plantar fasciitis where the fascia in the bottom of the foot has hardened and has become brittle. Years of wearing shoes of any sorts often creates an imbalanced and tight foot.
     No matter what the cause most people do not do enough of the right things to reverse this situation. Despite short-term relief by placing inserts into the shoes orthotics will never cure your problem. In fact, orthotics will only ignite a host of other maladies that will continue to get worse as time evolves.
     The foot can be equated to the bottom of a tall building. In a tall building where each floor is stacked on top of one another the ground floor and the foundation are the most important. The foundation of the building must be completely balanced as this is what holds up each floor that resides on top. If the ground floor is not balanced each floor above it will have to compensate and lean one way or the other to redistribute the weight. We can see this in such ancient buildings like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The ground floor has sunk into the deteriorating soil and is off balance. Hence, each floor above it has to compensate and this creates a very unstable structure.
     When it comes to the human body, if your feet are imbalanced then this will cause twists and rotations up the leg and into each joint. One leg might be shorter than the other causing the hips to be imbalanced. A knee or hip might have a spiral pattern traveling through it causing extra strain on the ligaments and tendons. Your back might be in constant pain as this spiral that originates from your foot causes irregular patterns up the body, much like a building that is crooked.
     Orthotics do nothing to fix these problems. In fact what orthotics do is to lock the imbalanced problem in place. Just because the pain has subsided when you insert an orthotic in the bottom of your shoe does not mean that you have cured your imbalanced foot. What an orthotic does is give you a false sense of success. The pain is gone and you can now ignore the rest of the symptoms.
     Orthotics often work like aspirin. They kill the pain but do not fix the problem. If you have a tight arch and you insert an orthotic into the bottom of the foot it might make it easier to walk around. Yet you are still walking on the outside of your foot and there is still a spiral in your leg rotating all the way into your hip. You might end up having a hip replacement or a back surgery because you placed an orthotic in the bottom of your foot and assumed that all of your problems miraculously just went away. All you have done is mask the symptoms and compensated for your problems.
     Orthotics work like eye glasses. None of them actually cure the body. Nobody ever improved their vision by wearing eye glasses. Glasses only keep your poor vision where it is or make it worse over time. Orthotics do the same. They keep your tight and imbalanced feet in a misdirected pattern and will even make them worse over time.
     Plantar fasciitis is another common malady that tightens up the bottom of your foot and makes it difficult to walk. This is the result of long-term hardness in the fascia that resides in the bottom of your foot. If you continue to ignore this condition then it will continue to get worse. An orthotic placed in the bottom of the foot might make it easier to walk but it will not cure your problem. It will be very difficult to walk when you take out the orthotic as the orthotic has become your crutch. You have not solved anything and have only cemented your problem in place.
     We are besieged by fancy television commercials with professionals in white lab coats telling us that their newest and most scientifically designed orthotics will solve all of your problems. They might as well be selling snake oil by the gallon. These individuals are practicing "mechanism" where all the parts are looked at as separate pieces. Unknowingly they believe that feet are isolated from the rest of the body. They are not. Whatever happens in your feet will send ripples throughout other areas of the body. Placing a cast on the foot in the form of an orthotic will not cure anything.
     There are many solutions to foot problems besides orthotics. One might wish to soak his or her feet in a bucket of warm water with a cup or two of Epsom salts. Adding a few drops of an essential oil like peppermint or wintergreen will enhance the healing experience.
     There are many personal massage devices that can begin to break up the tightened fascia in the bottom of the feet and bring circulation and blood flow back to the tissues. These inexpensive machines can be effectively used to reduce the pain in one's feet as well as begin to heal the body as well.
     In addition a professional bodyworker or massage therapist can begin to dig into your feet to allow them to come back into balance. Strong hands-on pressure will start to allow circulation and range of motion to increase. These private one-on-one sessions will not only begin to heal the feet but will reduce the pain as well. Some therapists will provide movement exercises to enable the foot to return to complete restoration.
     While orthotics might be the shiny new toy in the room they are mostly ineffective at healing the foot. They can be dangerous as they allow the imbalances in the leg to continue without addressing the actual causes of the imbalance. You might want to ask yourself if you just want to mask the pain or do you wish to actually cure your problem? Orthotics only mask problem areas and do nothing to cure these imbalances.