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Foot Health Blog

Find expert articles from physical therapists and podiatrists to help understand, diagnose, and treat different foot health issues such as plantar fasciitis, bunions, flat feet, and more.
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Why and When Should You Use Custom Orthotics?
OrthoticsWhy and When Should You Use Custom Orthotics?Although there are some foot conditions that can be excruciatingly painful, the existence and effects of others can go unnoticed. The treatment of many foot conditions can be aided with the use of custom orthotics or over-the-counter (OTC) insoles, but how do you go about figuring out if they're something you need? Unfortunately, only a registered podiatrist can make the final decision, but here are some factors that can help you decide why and when you should use custom orthotics. » How do you choose which custom orthotics to wear? Upstep offers a range of custom orthotics that can relieve pain from being on your feet all day or from high intensity activities Excessive Pain or Discomfort If you have mild pain or inflammation in the feet, legs, or back, there's a good chance it will go away with time. However, if the pain persists or even worsens, the problem may be rooted in the feet and requires treatment. The less severe conditions can sometimes be treated with the use of pre-made insoles, as you might only need some extra cushioning in your shoes, but more serious conditions will need orthotics tailored to your specific feet. Keep in mind that not all foot conditions will cause foot problems. Some could even lead to shin splints or lower back pain without an obvious cause. When Should You Wear Your Custom Orthotics? Since custom orthotics are there to right persistent errors in your feet, they should be worn for as long as possible. However, a new pair of orthotics may be uncomfortable to wear at first. If this is the case, you might just need to get used to them. Give yourself a few weeks at first, starting with only a few minutes of wearing them in between long rests, gradually building up until you wear them constantly. If, after a month, you still aren't used to wearing them all the time, they might need to be adjusted by your podiatrist. » Still unsure whether custom orthotics are for you? Read the custom orthotics product review for everyday activities A Final Thought: Are Custom Orthotics Permanent? This depends on the condition, really. Some individuals may have enough success at reshaping their feet and strengthening certain muscles to reduce the time spent wearing them dramatically. In contrast, others with more serious conditions may have to wear orthotics around the clock. If your issues are minor to nonexistent, you don't need to jump the gun and see a podiatrist as your condition may go away on its own. If it's something persistent and painful, then consider booking an appointment as a podiatrist can give you more info through that and further regular checkups.
How to Tell if You Need Orthotics
OrthoticsHow to Tell if You Need OrthoticsNot everyone needs orthotics, but most people can benefit from them. Orthotics help redistribute pressure, correct your gait, improve your posture, cushion sensitive parts of the foot, absorb shock, and reduce foot pain. A podiatrist can tell you if you need insoles, but there are a number of conditions that might require custom orthotics moulded to your feet. Conditions That May Require Custom Orthotics Foot Pain or Swelling Foot or heel pain is often a sign of other problems, such as plantar fasciitis. Orthotics can provide cushioning and support to reduce foot pain. Lower Limb Injuries Lower limb injuries can affect how we move, and our alignment, which can be improved using custom orthotics. Flat Feet or High Arches People with very high arches or none at all (flat feet) don't get the support they need from regular shoes. Orthotics can give your arches the support they need. Situations That May Benefit From Custom Orthotics Regularly Spending Long Hours on Your Feet Insoles can help relieve the stress placed on the plantar fascia, a ligament across the bottom of your foot. Extensive hours on your feet can injure the plantar fascia and cause a painful condition known as plantar fasciitis. Feeling Unstable on Your Feet Flat feet or collapsed arches can cause a great deal of pain and leave you feeling unbalanced. Inserts can help with balance problems related to flat feet. Shoes With Uneven Wear and Tear If the soles of your shoes are wearing down more on one side than on the other, your foot may be rolling inwards (pronation) or turning outwards (supination). If one shoe is more worn than the other, your legs might not be the same length. Insoles can redistribute pressure and restore equilibrium between your feet. Should You Get Orthotics? If you recognize yourself in any of the above descriptions, you might need orthotics. And even if your feet are fine, you could still benefit from the extra support and comfort custom orthotics provide. Consult with the experts at Upstep and they can help you decide if orthotics are right for you.
Different Types of Custom Orthotics
OrthoticsDifferent Types of Custom OrthoticsOrthotics are special heel or shoe inserts prescribed by a doctor to treat foot, leg, hip, or back problems and relieve any pain and discomfort that arises. These orthotic devices tend to provide more cushion and support than a shoe can. Orthotics come in various sizes and shapes and include shoe inserts, arch supports, footpads, ankle braces, and all other similar items. » Unsure how to navigate the different types of orthotics? Browse Upstep's range of custom orthotics to get started The Difference Between Insoles and Orthotics Both insoles and orthotics are useful in treating foot problems, and people often use the terms interchangeably. However, there is a slight difference between the two as they work differently for different individuals based on their specific needs. Quite simply, one can say insoles form a subset of orthotics. They are foam inserts placed in your shoe to cushion the foot and support the arch. Orthotics are above and beyond that and include insoles, toe pads, braces, and arch supports that are used to address different foot conditions. Again, it may be important to point out that while insoles are generic and can be purchased over the counter, orthotics are generally custom-made and designed to fit the foot. Again, while insoles can last up to 6 months, orthotics can last for five years. Different Types of Orthotics All custom orthotics differ from generic insoles in that they are designed to optimize your specific foot's function. While some offer mostly protection, other types of orthotics offer protection and functional control. Thus, depending on the foot problem, there are different types of custom orthotics. Generally, there are 3 different types of orthotics, all made from different materials, and they are: 1. Functional (Rigid) Custom Orthotics Functional orthotics are made from hard materials such as carbon fiber or plastic. Consequently, they are long-lasting, durable, and tend not to change shape. Functional orthotics provide additional support to the foot and are specifically designed to control the motion of foot joints below the ankle joint and improve foot and ankle mobility. They are ideal for managing foot conditions such as: ArthritisHallux limitus/rigidus (inflamed, sore, and stiff toe joints)Pes Plano valgus (collapsing arches/flat feet)Cavus foot (high arches)Limb-length discrepanciesBunion deformitiesPlantar fasciitisNeuromasNeuromuscular conditionsAnd more Some orthotics address specific medical issues like complex foot deformities, imbalance, or back problems. These medically prescribed orthotics are sometimes combined with orthopedic footplates or foot and ankle braces. 2. Accommodative Custom Orthotics Accommodative orthotics are made up of soft and well-cushioned materials. They reduce the impact of standing and walking, reduce shear forces on the sole, and redistribute and balance weight across the foot. They are effective in managing the following conditions: Diabetic woundsArthritisDeformed feet. They are also ideal for minor complaints or to correct functional issues. 3. Semi-rigid Custom Orthotics Semi-rigid orthotics allow you to enjoy the best of both worlds as they are made from both soft and rigid materials. Its composite structure makes for better balance and can help relieve pressure and absorb shock. Semi-rigid orthotics are often recommended for foot issues caused by arthritis or diabetes. They are used to treat flatfoot and in-toeing or out-toeing disorders in children. Athletes also use them to prevent pain, especially during training or competition. Other Types of Custom Orthotics Children's Orthotics These provide biomechanical support. They also help restore the natural walking pattern by treating foot deformities and stabilizing the foot from an early age. They can be changed regularly as the child grows. Sport-Related Orthotics These aim to meet specific sport-related needs. In some cases, they optimize the biomechanical alignment of the body and improve sports performance, while in others, they help prevent injury. They can also improve energy transfer between the body and the foot. Athletes involved in edge-control and multidirectional sports, like skiing and skating, often use special custom orthotics. Over-the-Counter (OTC) Orthotics These one-size-fits-all orthotics may help you with minor conditions. However, they can also worsen the situation as they are not designed for your specific needs. » Still not convinced orthotics can help you? Read the review for standing and walking insoles What Type of Orthotics Do You Need? From posterior tibial tendonitis to plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, flat feet, and more, the choice of orthotic will depend on the exact condition and the way the foot has been affected. Invariably, the kind of orthotics you need is a function of your foot issue, and how much improvement may have resulted from other treatments. Consult with the experts at Upstep to determine the best type of orthotics based on your foot issues, lifestyle, and personal needs.
Over-The-Counter Insoles vs. Custom Orthotics: Which One Is Right for You?
OrthoticsOver-The-Counter Insoles vs. Custom Orthotics: Which One Is Right for You?Although the words "custom orthotics" and "insoles" are often used interchangeably, there is a distinction between the two. As the name suggests, custom orthotics are insoles made specifically for you on a doctor/podiatrist's prescription. On the other hand, over-the-counter (OTC) insoles refer to one-size-fits-all shoe inserts that can be purchased in any pharmacy. Custom Orthotics vs. Over-The-Counter (OTC) Insoles To get the best possible fit and comfort, you should get orthotics custom-made specifically to fit your foot's unique characteristics. With Upstep, you can place an order online and provide some medical and lifestyle information, and we will send you an impression kit to make a custom imprint of your feet. After returning the impression kit to us, our experts will analyze your feet and the information you provided to design a pair of custom orthotics made specifically for your needs. » Need some extra comfort? Consider some everyday orthotics from Upstep. Are Custom Orthotics Better Than Store-Bought? There is no straight answer to this question. Rather, whether the better one is the custom orthotics or OTC orthotics will depend on the user's particular circumstances. For example, an over-the-counter insole provides general cushioning and some arch support. However, given that people's feet are shaped differently and have different foot conditions, an off-the-shelf orthotic cannot provide the specific components required by each individual. Read on to compare the pros and cons of custom orthotics and OTC insoles. Pros of Custom Orthotics Designed to fit Custom orthotics are usually designed to the specification of the foot and the condition of the client who needs it. Invariably, this makes them more comfortable and more effective in dealing with foot problems.Better Quality Compared to OTC insoles, custom orthotics are often made with better quality materials, guaranteeing better support and longer-lasting durability.Better support Often, the materials with which custom orthotics are made are more rigid. Thus, they offer better support than prefabricated orthotics usually made from rubber or silicone.More cost-effective in the long run Compared to off-the-shelf orthotics, custom orthotics tend to be more expensive. However, the cheaper insoles break down and wear out quickly, making custom orthotics the cost-effective option when you're looking at long-term options. » Shop for your perfect pair today: Browse the Upstep store Pros of Over-The-Counter Insoles Cheaper alternative Standard insoles are cheaper than custom-made orthotics and would be a good option for individuals with mild conditions.Quick fix When the goal is quick pain relief, you may not have the luxury of time to wait for a custom orthotic to be fabricated. In that case, prefabricated orthotics become the better choice. You can easily cut and add them to your shoes in minutes to get quick relief. Cons of Custom Orthotics High upfront cost It costs way more to make an initial purchase of a custom orthotic than an over-the-counter orthotic because of the materials and specialized labor.Time constraints While you can just walk into a store and purchase a prefabricated orthotic, you will need to give a podiatrist time to make your orthotics. It takes an average of two to three weeks (in which you'll still experience pain) to make a pair of custom orthotics. Cons of Over-The-Counter Insoles Temporary fix While prefabricated orthotics can bring quick pain relief, it is often short-lived as they don't address the condition. Instead, they often cause damage by giving too much support to one foot or not enough to the other, which can mess with your alignment, balance, posture, and foot health.No health insurance rebate While custom orthotics are covered by the HSA and LPFSA (meaning you can get be reimbursed when you purchase them with your own money), the same is not true for OTC insoles. There is no health insurance coverage for them as anyone can easily buy them without a doctor's advice or prescription.Less durability Since OTC orthotics are made from lower-quality materials, they are often less durable. Thus, they tend to break down easily and quickly show wear and tear. The Final Verdict: Which Product Is Right for You? Custom orthotics are made of better quality materials and tend to last longer than OTC insoles. For quality arch support and comfort, you should always go with custom orthotics, as they are definitely worth it. They can help correct your gait or posture, relieve foot pain, and improve balance. Since they are crafted to treat your specific ailments, they are inevitably more successful than prefabricated insoles. However, if the goal is quick pain relief and the condition is mild, an over-the-counter insole might be all you need.
Massages for Heel Spurs: Helpful Tips and Techniques
HeelMassages for Heel Spurs: Helpful Tips and TechniquesA heel spur is a bony growth caused by calcium deposits on the heel bone. Typically, heel spurs are asymptomatic, meaning they do not cause any symptoms. They can, however, lead to significant heel pain, which is intermittent and stabbing. The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) affirms that 1 in 10 people has a heel spur, but only 1 in 20 individuals presents with pain. In addition to pain, heel spurs can cause redness, swelling, tenderness, and inflammation at the heel. While there is no known cause, several risk factors predispose you to heel spurs. Some of these causes of heel pain are tight calf muscles, obesity, improper shoes, and an abnormal gait pattern. Additionally, prolonged repetitive activities, high-impact activities (like running), and sudden changes in physical activity levels can cause heel spurs. Benefits of Massaging Heel Spurs While massage cannot cure heel spurs, it is beneficial in managing the symptoms of these growths. Massage relieves pain as it kneads away and soothes any tense muscles, ligaments, and surrounding tendons. It also reduces inflammation and improves blood flow to the area, which promotes healing. It should be noted, however, that the benefits of massaging heel spurs are temporary, with surgery being the only permanent solution. Massage helps to decrease pain and inflammation, which are only the symptoms and not the spur itself. Massage Techniques for Treating Heel Spurs Several massage techniques can be used to treat heel spurs. Each method requires a different position and has varying degrees of complexity. They can be classified into three broad categories: Self-massageMassage by othersMassage with equipment 1. Self-Massage The first and most common technique is a simple self-massage. It involves massaging your foot with your hands while in a seated position. To perform this massage, Start at the base of the heel, where the plantar fascia connects to the heel bone.Gently applying pressure, knead the tension out of ligaments and muscles using a circular motion as you go.Then apply moderate to hard pressure on the plantar fascia running downwards from the ball of the foot.Continue for several minutes and repeat the process until every part of the heel has been covered. 2. Massage by Others For each of the massage techniques below, you need someone to help you. This can be anyone you’re comfortable with or a trained professional like a physiotherapist. The advantage of getting a partner to work with you is that you can focus on relaxing your body while the person is busy with the massage. They can also work through the more painful areas you may have avoided. The techniques include: Stroking Massage While lying down, your partner should cup your heels in their hand. Then, they need to apply gentle pressure while stroking the top and sides of your feet with their fingers. The top strokes aim to relieve any kind of tension in the muscles and ligaments of the foot. Deep Petrissage For this technique, your partner uses the heel of their hands instead of the fingers to apply sustained pressure. They should apply this pressure steadily while moving from the ball of the foot to the heel. Wringing Massage Much like wringing a wet cloth, with a wringing massage, your partner holds your whole foot. Then, with hands facing opposite directions, they need to apply gentle pressure with each hand and twist their hands. Your partner should work from the ball of your foot to the instep and foot arch. 3. Massage With Equipment These massages require implements like a tennis or golf ball, a foot massager, and in some cases, a water bottle. Using a Golf Ball To massage your feet with a golf ball or tennis ball: Sit in a chair with your feet facing forward.Place the heel of your foot over the golf or tennis ball.Roll your foot over the ball, beginning with the ball of the foot, moving to the sole. Apply as much pressure as you can. Repeat for a few minutes for each session. Using a Foot Massager In some instances, you can use a machine to massage the foot directly. To use foot massagers, Start slowly, placing both feet on the massager, so your feet get accustomed to it.Gradually increase the intensity of the vibrations while staying within a comfortable range.Use it for up to ten minutes at a time before stopping. What Is the Fastest Way to Heal a Heel Spur? While massage is effective for managing the symptoms caused by heel spurs, there are other ways to treat them. NSAIDs, ice, rest, splints, stretches for heel pain, orthotics, and local corticosteroid injections are all effective in bringing quick relief. The fastest way to heal a heel spur is to combine methods.

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