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Foot orthoses ("orthotics") is a term used to refer to just about any kind of shoe insert, whether custom-made for your feet, or just based on shoe size.
Biomechanical foot orthotics are designed to provide ideal foot function based on a 3D model of the foot in its ideal functional position. They prevent & correct abnormal movement, while maintaining the joints of the foot in closed kinetic chain optimal position (CKCOP) by addressing each part of the walking/running cycle. Unlike "arch supports" which try to push up on a sagging arch, biomechanical orthotics can prevent the arch from sagging by preventing abnormal joint position as full weight is borne from heel contact to push-off. The difference is similar to that between magnifying glasses vs. prescription eyeglasses for a vision problem.
HOW ARE ORTHOTICS MADE?
First, an accurate model of the foot in optimal functional position is made, so that the biomechanical orthotic lab can design & fabricate an optimally functioning orthotic. Sounds obvious, but it's rarely done!
GIGO: Great impression, great orthotics!©
If you stand on foam or a scanner, your foot posture will be captured in its most unstable position. If plaster or a scanner is used on a non-weight bearing foot, you'll get an orthotic designed for non-weight bearing. Not very useful. So, we have designed an "app" for capturing the CKC optimal functional posture of the foot, for which orthoses are designed & fabricated to maintain that optimally functioning foot. Of course, proper durable materials must be used, but without a proper 3D model of the foot, the materials used become irrelevant.