Orthotics Are A Cast
Ever noticed how weak and immobile a certain body part is after being stuck in a cast for 6-12 weeks? Now imagine that cast being on your feet for 15 years and counting! Sounds like a nightmare, but it is exactly what happens when you wear shoe inserts or orthotics. Instead of letting the muscles regain their strength, they become weak and more injury prone.
Orthotics temporarily mask your symptoms, but they don't actually address the root problem. In other words, orthotics are the band-aid approach to your overall health and wellness.
Orthotics Are Short Term
There is no denying that we have become addicted to needing things ASAP. So when it comes to pain, all we want to do it get rid of it. Orthotics mask pain so you feel better, but as a result the bones and muscles of the foot are not activated the way they should.
Below is a message we recently received and it comes from someone who has worn orthotics for 15 years. Wait, let me type that again in case you missed it...FIFTEEN YEARS! That is just crippling!
Fifteen years ago (2005), was the birth year of Youtube and Facebook would have been celebrating their first birthday. Point being, a lot can happen in 15 years and I am willing to bet that addressing the issues from the ground up would have been a much better LONG TERM solution.
As a side note, there are definitely cases where orthotics should be used per a doctors recommendation. That being said, we always will take the side of WORKING towards the long term desired outcome. In this case, having STRONG and healthy feet. In other words, don't cut corners!
Getting Started Without Orthotics
Your key is to spend as much time out of your shoes with increased movement and exercise. Putting adequate stress on your feet so they respond and adapt. Your feet are built to function like a Ferrari, but putting orthotics on is like adding a governor to the engine. Let those suckers fly!
If you are someone who is currently wearing orthotics or you want to begin barefoot training, we recommend that you understand what we mean when we say "proper" foot mechanics. There are two general concepts.
1. Three Point of Contact Rule
This is also referred to as the tripod foot and it is the concept of maintaining contact with the ground in three areas of the foot. These areas are the following:
1. Heel or calcaneus
2. The lateral upper portion of the foot or outer ball of the foot in line with the 5th metatarsal, baby toe area.
3. Near the proximal phalange also known as proximal phalanx, hallux or more commonly the big toe.
See the figure below:
2. Toe Splay
We talked about this previously here, but it is important to have optimal yet natural toe spread/splay (of all the toes) especially the big toe/hallux in line with the first metatarsal joint.
In other words the big toe should be spread away from the other toes, not towards them.
EVERYONE can benefit from ditching their shoes and adding some barefoot training into the mix. Only one question remains, will you turn the easy way and never get better or put in the necessary work to have healthy and strong feet for the rest of your life? The choice is yours...