Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Flat Feet, High Arches or Pronating, What is Your Foot Type?

Most of my clients are surprised to learn that there are generally 9 factors that determine a person's foot type. I say generally, because there are always exceptions to any organizing system. As a Certified Pedorthist of almost 2 decades and fitting technical athletic footwear since 1970, I've seen many different types of feet. I've developed this list to categorize feet so that I can most quickly identify a orthotic client's concerns and help them. Here are the 9 factors:

Foot Physiology:
  • Low Arch foot with Flexible Joints (sometimes referred to as a flat foot)
  • High Arch foot with Stiff Joints
  • Neutral Arch foot with Moderate Joint Movement
Foot Shape:
  • Oblique Toe (Big toe is longer and foot tapers angularly to the small toes).
  • Square Toe (Little toes are exceptionally long and big toe is short - The toes are close to the same length).
  • Round Toe (Second toe extends longer than the big toe).
Volume: How thick or thin your feet are. Including how much tissue the foot has and how big the bones are of the foot.
  • Low volume (Foot could be wide or narrow, but there isn't much bulk to the foot.)
  • Mid Volume (Foot is well proportioned.)
  • High Volume (Foot is thick, bulky, large boned)
The reason it is important to know that there are nine classifications of feet is to identify the key characteristics of your foot type so that you can focus on comfort footwear or sports performance features that best suit your foot type.

Often a person will choose a shoe based on looks or the advice of a friend, and not really have any idea if the shoe properly fits their foot. As you can see from the list of foot characteristics, there are many variables involved with shoe fitting and depending upon the type of foot you have, you may not easily find the best shoe for your foot without some professional advice.

At Footform Performance Center in Bend, Oregon, we analyze feet, mold and make custom foot orthotics (shoe inserts), then fit the orthotics into the client's footwear. Part of our orthodics service includes shoe consultation and recommendations. Footform custom shoe inserts increase foot comfort and sports performance. I am also available to consult to the shoe industry to create footwear that is designed for the widest variety of foot types.

Call or contact Footform Performance Center, 541-389-4547, 345 SW Century Dr., Bend, OR

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Why are Custom Orthotics Better for You than Off the Shelf Footbeds

Clients will sometimes ask me what the difference is between prefabricated foot orthotics and custom foot orthotics, even sometimes claiming that both orthotics feel the same. Though there is that rare person that has the exact foot match to a generic orthotic contour, usually a person is responding to the cushion of the foot orthotic, a trait that doesn't have a lot to do with performance of the footbed.

Just to look a prefab foot orthotic is impressive. Mass production techniques often result in a snazzy looking foot orthotic  (also called a insole or footbed). Despite the appearance and marketing, a pre-made foot orthotic is generic. The cushiony feel of most pre-fab insoles helps to cover up the lack of a perfect fit.

What really counts when you buy a foot orthotic is the arch contour and how the orthotic fits into the shoe. A foot orthotic you put in your shoe is there to optimally guide your foot so that you can make changes and adjustments in your foot position.

A pre-fab orthotic or insole is low-performance (despite the appearance) because since the contours of the orthotic are generic, you won't notice that your foot is out of position until the movement is obvious. 

A custom made foot orthotic is high-performance because of the exact fit with the contours of your foot. Every move your feet make, you can feel. This is important, because when your foot is moving well, fatigue, over-use and injuries are reduced.

The next step to a successful application of an orthotic is to fit it into a shoe. This requires cutting and grinding skills that fit the foot orthotic into the existing contours of your shoe. It also requires that you are wearing the best shoes for you feet. My next post will be about foot types and shoes.

When you buy a custom foot orthotic you should buy them from a trained technician who can tell you about the optimal use of your foot. They'll educate you about the types of shoes you should wear for your foot type and also fit the orthotic into the shoe. They will give you stance and gait training so that you can get the best out of your foot orthotic.

At Footform Performance Center  we give you that kind of orthotic, shoe and gait training service. Your foot orthotics will both be effective and last for years (rather than most pre-made foot orthotics that compress out of shape within months then live forever in the landfill).

Call or contact Footform Performance in Bend, Oregon for an appointment. 541-389-4547