The orthotic industry came to prominence after WWI, WWII and the onset of the 1950’s polio epidemic. It was to help wounded soldiers and those stricken with polio. Later, orthotics were developed for diabetics, patients recovering from burns or broken bones, people with severe arthritis or neuromuscular disorders, MS, CP, spina bifida, brain injury, kids with scoliosis, athletes recovering from surgery or injury, and many other disorders.

Fast forward to 2014: People wear orthotics today for their high arches, collapsed arches, foot cramps, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, hip issues, knee problems, back pain, tendonitis, heel pain, leg length discrepancy, arch pain, calf tension, and the list is endless. This is vastly different from its original usage. There is NO comparison.

Do you have orthotics?

Why did you get them in the first place?

Today’s definition of orthotics:  a device designed to restore your natural foot function. Orthotics re-align the foot and ankle bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring your natural foot function.

What? Read that again. Seriously! Read the above definition again slowly.

Okay. Did you actually read it again or are you just trying to get through this #@^* blog post?

Well, I have something special for you today. For today and today only:

I’m going to give you gloves that restore your natural hand function. The wrist-o-hand glove will re-align your hand and wrist bones to their neutral position, thereby restoring your natural hand function. You will be able to do anything with your hands. Did I say aNyThInG?

Do you believe me?

Just wait! I have a bonus offer:

I’m going to give you underwear that restore your natural pelvic floor function. Pelflundies re-align your femur, your pelvis and your sacrum to their neutral positions, thereby restoring your natural pelvic floor function. Going to the toilet will now be a breeze without worrying about pissing on the floor while walking to work or working out. You will experience a wonderful and loving menstrual flow (woman only, obviously). You will say no to pelvic organ prolapse and yes to strong and healthy tissues. No more SI joint problems or sciatica! To top it off, the sex will be “O” so magnificent!

Do you believe me now?

I think you get my point. Here’s the thing: FEET need to be healthy for the entire body to be healthy. Humans have not studied the body enough to know the true intricacies of the foot itself. In regards to your biomechanics, of your actual gait? Here is a great quote from William A. Rossi D.P.M:

“Gait is the single most complex motor function of the human body. So complex, in fact, that it is the only motor function for which a definition or standard of “normal” does not exist. It involves half of the body’s 650 muscles and 200 bones, along with a large share of the joints and ligaments. And despite all the serious gait studies that have been done since Hippocrates to the present, all the mysteries of human gait have yet to be revealed.” (p. 50)

Notice how he uses the term normal, not natural. The only natural that can be found when discussing feet is when they are bare. It is that simple. If it hurts you to go barefoot. I get it! I wore orthotics from 1990-2008. I went through about 10 pairs. To add to that, I had my positive heel shoes at my bedside every single day. Upon waking (to go pee in the middle of the night or getting up to go to work) I would immediately put my feet into those shoes. Going barefoot was painful! I just couldn’t do it. At the same time, I became fed up with everything. I couldn’t understand why I truly needed orthotics in the first place (shin splints, plantar fasciitis, high arches). For me this was just not a good enough excuse to wear something foreign to my body. I slowly weaned off the orthotics working hard every single day, starting with 30 seconds! After 2 looooong years with more mobility and stability daily I threw my orthotics out.

No! I am not telling you to get rid of your orthotics. No! I’m not saying orthotics are bad. Some people need them! Regardless if we wear orthotics or not we need to take responsibility of our feet. Bracing them in shoes or orthotics will not fix them. It is imperative to increase circulation through self-massage with a pair of hands, a ball or a small roller. It is also crucial to create more stability through movement barefoot [BE CAREFUL! You don’t have to do any weight bearing exercises at first]. Every single muscle and bone in your body is meant to move on its own, naturally!

Have you recently suffered from any aches or pains in your body? It just might be because your feet need some TLC! Love your footsies and your entire body will love you back.

Where did I get that awesome quote? Here: Rossi, William A., D.P.M. Why shoes make “normal” gait impossible. Podiatry Management, p.50-61, March 1999.