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What Are Custom Orthotics? Exploring Unique Features, Gait Analysis, and 3D-Laser Print

Understanding Custom Orthotics

The Biomechanical Connection

What are custom orthotics and why having a gait analysis is vital

Custom orthotics are specialised devices designed to support and align your feet, addressing specific biomechanical issues and providing relief from various foot-related conditions.

Unlike generic insoles, which may prove useful for a little extra support or padding are mass-produced and designed to fit a broad range of foot shapes.

Custom orthotics are meticulously crafted to match the unique requirements and needs of an individual’s feet with a clinical or performance application in mind.

The Unique Features and Functions of the Foot

Our feet are marvels of engineering, comprising 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments in each foot. This complex structure allows for incredible flexibility and strength, enabling us to walk, run, and stand with ease. Key functions of the foot include:

  1. Shock Absorption: The arch of the foot acts as a natural shock absorber, distributing the impact forces of walking and running.
  2. Balance and Stability: The foot’s intricate network of muscles and ligaments provides balance and stability, allowing for precise movements.
  3. Propulsion: The toes, especially the big toe, play a crucial role in pushing off the ground during walking or running.

Given these complex functions, it’s no surprise that even slight instabilities, collapses or irregularities can lead to pain and discomfort, affecting overall mobility and quality of life.

The Role of Gait Analysis in Custom Orthotics

A gait analysis is a critical tool in the creation of custom orthotics. This process involves examining the way a person walks or runs to identify abnormalities or issues in their gait cycle. Here’s how a gait analysis contributes to the development of custom orthotics:

  1. Assessment of Foot Function: Gait analysis helps in understanding how different parts of the foot function during various phases of the gait cycle, including heel strike, mid-stance, and toe-off.
  2. Identification of Biomechanical Issues: By analysing the gait, professionals can identify problems such as overpronation (foot rolls inward) or supination (foot rolls outward), which can lead to foot pain and other issues.
  3. Customization Parameters: Data from the gait analysis, such as pressure points, weight distribution, and foot alignment, are used to tailor the orthotics to the individual’s specific needs.

The Process of Creating 3D-Printed Custom Orthotics

Once a gait analysis is completed, the next step is to create the custom orthotics. Advances in technology, particularly 3D printing, have revolutionised this process:

  1. Digital Foot Scanning: A precise digital scan of the foot is taken, capturing its exact shape and dimensions.
  2. Design Customization: Using data from the gait analysis and foot scan, a customised orthotic design is created. This design takes into account the unique pressure points and alignment issues identified during the analysis.
  3. 3D Printing: The customised design is then 3D printed using advanced materials that provide the necessary support and flexibility. This ensures that the orthotics are not only perfectly fitted but also durable and effective.

Conclusion

Custom orthotics are an invaluable solution for individuals experiencing foot pain or biomechanical issues. Through a comprehensive assessment, gait analysis and the use of advanced 3D printing technology, custom orthotics are produced to meet the unique needs of each individual, offering superior support and long-term relief. If you’re struggling with foot pain or other foot & ankle related issues, consider scheduling a gait analysis to explore how custom orthotics can improve your foot health and overall well-being. 

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