Good spinal health is built from the ground up, starting with the feet. For years medical researchers and healthcare providers have recognized that problems there can cause posture changes that eventually trigger a variety of musculoskeletal issues in other parts of the body (particularly the ankle, knee, hip and back). Studies have also shown that even slight foot problems can negatively affect athletes’ performance and predispose them to a broad range of sports-related injuries.
What Are Orthotics and How Can They Help?
Orthotics are shoe inserts that are specially designed and manufactured to correct an abnormal or irregular walking pattern by promoting proper alignment and balance. They’ve improved the quality of life for millions of people, and it’s become very common for physicians to recommend them to address many different patient needs:
• Reducing pain and/or fatigue
• Providing targeted foot support
• Relieving pressure or stress on an injured or sensitive area
• Preventing or limiting deformity
• Improving foot positioning and function
• Restoring balance
• Reinforcing or supplementing other therapies (particularly chiropractic adjustments)
Foot orthotics are medical devices that can significantly change the way a person stands, walks and runs (and therefore the way his or her body absorbs and distributes related forces). For this reason, it’s important that the person wearing them clearly understand their benefits, risks and limitations. It’s also important that the person use them correctly.
What Every Patient Should Know About Orthotics
1. There is no “one-size-fits-all” answer when it comes to orthotics. What works for another family member or neighbor will probably not work for you! Getting the right prescription for your particular needs is all about working effectively with your healthcare provider to define your own goals and develop a complete understanding of your foot’s unique structure and function. For instance, orthotics can be very sport-specific—the performance requirements of a hiker will not be the same as those of a skier or a football player.
2. Not all orthotics are created equal, and the differences matter. The prefabricated orthotics that can be purchased at shoe stores, pharmacies and sporting goods stores are not the same as the custom orthotics prescribed by a healthcare provider. Do not confuse them! Mass-produced products are tailored for the “typical” foot and are unlikely to address problems specific to any one individual’s foot. In some situations, such products can actually make a medical condition worse, cause new problems or increase the risk of injury. So while they’re usually less expensive than custom orthotics, they may not actually solve your particular problem.
3. Orthotics don’t actually correct foot or ankle problems. They are intended to realign the structures of the foot to improve function, reduce pain and decrease the risk of injury.
4. Needs can change over time and your orthotics should too. The structure and function of the foot can change as people age. So too can people’s lifestyle and priorities. Your healthcare provider can work with you to ensure that your prescription is still the right one for you.
5. Long-term use of orthotics may pose its own risks. Any time that you provide outside help to the structures normally responsible for supporting and moving parts of your body (casts or braces are good examples), you are essentially asking them to do less. And if you provide that help over a sufficiently extended period, you run the risk that your bones, muscles and connective tissues may become weaker as a result. The unintended consequence is that you may actually become less capable and more reliant on your devices to do the work your body used to do. Your healthcare provider will talk with you about how to use your orthotics correctly and manage any long-term risk that he or she believes may exist.
6. Prescribing orthotics is arguably as much an art as a science. Don’t underestimate the role of professional in prescribing orthotics. Experts acknowledge that there are few widely-accepted standards and that we can’t always predict successfully how an individual will respond to a particular prescription. In fact, recent research has demonstrated that individuals with the same condition can respond very differently to identical orthotic therapy. There’s even evidence that the same patient can respond to a prescription inconsistently or can respond just as favorably to two entirely different (even contrary) prescriptions. This means that some trial and error may be necessary to get the results both you and your healthcare provider are looking for and that good communication is critical. Without accurate and timely feedback about how well your orthotics are doing their job, it’s impossible to make the adjustments that will eventually lead to success.
How Your Bellevue Chiropractor Can Help
There’s a close relationship between the way your feet work and the way the rest of your musculoskeletal system supports your body. So even if your feet themselves don’t actually hurt, they could be contributing to other health problems that you’re experiencing. After your chiropractor has examined you carefully and talked with you about your situation, he or she can help you decide whether foot orthotics should be part of your broader treatment plan. Call our office today at 425-635-0495 to learn more.
References and Resources
Gina Kolata, Close Look at Orthotics Raises a Welter of Doubts. Orthotic Shoe Inserts May Work, but It’s Not Clear Why. New York Times Fitness and Nutrition. January 17, 2011. Accessed August 2011.
Nigg, BM et. al., Effect of Shoe Inserts on Kinematics, Center of Pressure, and Leg Joint Movements During Running. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. February 2003. Accessed August 2011.
Best Foot Forward with Chiropractic. Journal of the American Chiropractic Association. January 2001. Accessed August 2011.
The B group of vitamins is probably the most commonly misunderstood of the vitamins, simply because the B vitamins are several distinct vitamins lumped together. Additionally, the fact that the vitamins in this group are known by both letter, number and name is confusing to many people. Here is a quick list of the B vitamins found in the Vitamin B complex group:
• B1 is also thiamin
• B2 is also riboflavin
• B3 is also niacin
• B5 is also pantothenic acid
• B6 is also pyridoxine
• B7 is also biotin
• B9 is also folic acid
• B12 is also cobalamin
You should note that there are four additional substances in the B complex group, though they are not known as vitamins. They are choline, lipoic acid, PABA and inositol. When you purchase B complex vitamins, these four will not be included. Furthermore, one or two of the recognized B vitamins may also be omitted. B5 and B7 are so widely available in food that most people get plenty of these vitamins even if they aren’t eating a healthy diet.
There are gaps in the numbers of the B vitamins because our understanding of them has evolved over time. Initially there was only a single B vitamin. Later it was recognized that what had been referred to as a single vitamin, actually had many components. These component parts where numbered 1,2,3,4, etc… Even later it was determine that some of these components (such as B4) did not meet the criteria of being a vitamin and they were dropped. That’s how we ended up with 8 B-vitamins with non-sequential numbers.
One thing that all the B vitamins share is that they are water soluble. Any excess vitamin B is not stored, but rather is excreted in the urine. That means that all the B vitamins need to be constantly replenished from our diets.
B vitamins are found in whole unprocessed foods including grains, meats and vegetables. In general, the more processed that food is, the lower the content of all the B vitamins. A daily multi-vitamin is a great way to ensure that you are getting all the B complex Vitamins your body needs on a daily basis.
One of the most commonly recognized uses of the B vitamins is an energy booster. Many popular energy drinks that claim a natural boost of energy without sugar or caffeine are high in B vitamin complex.
There are too many components in the Vitamin B complex to discuss the health benefits, deficiencies and Recommended Daily Allowance for the whole group in a single article. Look for future articles about each of these important nutrients.
If you have questions about your current nutrition and supplement plan, just ask. We are here to help!
B Vitamins MedlinePlus. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 10, 2011, from National Institutes of Health: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/bvitamins.html
Micronutrient Information Center. (n.d.). Retrieved 8 11, 2011, from Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins.html