How do I know if I need orthotics for walking?

Brian Waldo
The first thing to ask yourself is do you have unexplained foot/ankle, knee or lower back pain. There is some debate over the need for orthotics. One school of thought is that your lower extremity and hips may have some weak muscles that are not helping your body maintain your arch and or avoid what is termed pronation or pes planus of the foot and ankle complex. This change in foot position effects the knee, pelvis and spinal function. Many times orthotics are needed while rehabilitating or correcting imbalances of your muscles to support joints and body position until such a time you can do it for yourself. A simple self assessment of your foot position is to take two paper towels (preferably brown), step into water ( into a tray or dish tub) and step on the towels. If your pattern is more box like you may have some pronation going on. If your outline on the paper is more concave on the inside and straight on the outside you may not have this condition. Ultimately, if there is pain involved, you should be evaluated by a qualified therapist, podiatrist, chiropractor etc.
The need for orthotics for walking or in general will be decided on a case by case basis. Some things you need to ask yourself are: do you experience any pain when walking? Do you have any hip, back or knee pain? If you answer yes to either of these, then orthotics may be necessary.

Prior to prescribing anything, seeing a specialist to analyze your feet would be ideal. Seeing a doctor such an orthopedic would be a great place to start.

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