Orthotics: the real shoe bomber!

by admin on December 17, 2010

Look out below!
Orthotics: the real shoe bomber!

I ran into a friend at a party recently and he said he just had his orthotics adjusted and was experiencing some knee pain. My ears immediately perked up. As a posturologist and Muscle Activation Techniques® (MAT) specialist it’s a story I’ve heard many times before. I asked if he would like to try an experiment. He agreed. As he stood there on his orthotics I checked the level of his pelvis and the right side was a full inch higher than the left! His wife who was standing beside me was astonished. Then I tested his wrist extensor strength and easily pulled both hands down as if he were a newborn baby. Then I asked him to take off his shoes and the orthotics. Like magic his pelvis was almost level, only ¼ of an inch higher on the right and he passed the strength test like Popeye after just eating spinach. How could this be? Aren’t orthotics supposed to help you? The real question is how could it not be?

Image 1: My client without any foot correction. Notice that both feet are “valgus,” with the both tibia’s collapsing inward and flattening the arch of the foot.

Image 2: My client with orthotics that she has worn for 30 years. Notice the left foot is now a “varus” foot bowing the ankle outward severely stretching all the lateral tendons in the ankle. At this point she was in extreme pain in her feet and legs, and was unable to turn her foot inward or stand on her toes.

Image 3: The same client wearing postural insoles (not orthotics) — notice the more neutral feet. My client now has much more mobility, less pain and is able to stand on her toes after only 3 weeks of postural insoles and one MAT session.

Four bad things that happen when you wear orthotics:

Bad thing #1: Usually by mashing into the arch of the foot, Orthotics shut down the sensory receptors in the skin of the foot. These receptors are designed to communicate constant and accurate information to the central nervous system about weight distribution on the feet.

Bad thing #2: Unable to get accurate feedback from these skin receptors in the feet the central nervous system re-sends this inaccurate information to body’s postural muscles causing negative postural shifts like the one in my friend’s pelvis. It’s like typing in the wrong URL address. Wrong information in, wrong information out.

Bad thing #3: Orthotics act like a cast. If you’ve ever had a hard cast on your knee, ankle, or elbow you know the problem with that. The muscles immobilized by the cast atrophy and weaken. Well the same thing happens in the feet when presented with an orthotic. The joint(s) are immobilized and the muscles atrophy and weaken. There are 55 joints in your foot and like most joints in your body they are designed to move. Movement creates muscular contractions, which pump blood and force the exchange of nutrients and waste products. Joint immobility = Joint Death!

Bad thing # 4: Orthotics make you weaker. In the health section of the January, 18th edition of the New York Times, Dr. Benno Nigg, a professor of biomechanics at the University of Calgary in Alberta, said that, ‘othotics often make muscles work as much as 50% harder for the same movement and increase stress on joints by a similar amount.’ Why would you want to work harder for maybe the same result, (see my friend’s wrist extensor test) and stress your joints out more?

So what’s the answer?

Get the muscles of your feet and lower legs activated to support you and propel you through space like they are meant to do. I have found both Muscle Activation Techniques (MAT) and Posturology excellent modalities to activate muscles of the foot and lower leg and improve mobility and posture. If anyone you know is wearing orthotics please send them in. I will gladly give them a free postural assessment and show them a much healthier alternative to the shoe bomb!

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