ARCH SUPPORTS & ORTHOTICS
My experience with orthotics is that patients who have used them do not get predictable results. Orthotics give some people relief from their back or foot pain. Other people’s pain gets worse with orthotics. And some people must wear their orthotics every minute to maintain their relief– even during a midnight trip to the potty (an actual patient.)
Wearing orthotics to correct only the arch of the foot neglects the misalignments of the whole skeleton.
Arch supports throw off your mechanics and actually give you bad posture. You’ve probably always heard you should have “support”. And most shoes you buy have an insole with some bump for the arch. But many people test poorly with this set-up, as demonstrated on actual testing (see the Standing Movie).
So I find it necessary to remove most factory insoles and replace them with a flat insole that doesn’t have a bump. Insoles that ride up over the instep of the shoe also have the same problem. The insole needs to be trimmed down so the insole lays flat on the bottom of the shoe.
DANSKO CLOGS, BIRKENTSTOCKS, TEVAS & CROCS
These brands have a built-in arch in the base of the shoe. These shoes are not fixable. When people are frustrated with pain, I know they are more likely to just “try something.” But I can tell you these shoes throw the mechanics back out of place every time.
It’s possible that your custom orthotics, store-bought orthotics, clogs, or Birks are supporting whatever your current alignment is and actually gives you some pain relief. And that is fine. Why mess with something if it is working for you?
So it is possible that changing your arch supports, orthotics or heel height without getting ABC™ adjustments could aggravate your pain. But why rely on an exact pair of shoes to “fix” your pain? It’s not really “fixed.” The tension in your body is merely shifted to another area that hasn’t been twisted long enough to start hurting.
If you are having foot pain, numb feet, plantar fascitis or Morton’s neuromas, try our initial plan of care before resorting to surgery, injections or orthotics. Most patients have spent anywhere from $400-$800 on orthotics. Why waste that money when you can spend a little more and not be committed to wearing a clunky orthotic every day for the rest of your life?
Many patients have responded extremely well. Patients routinely have foot complaints and some patients even neglected to tell us about a foot pain during their consultation because it wasn’t their main complaint. But within a few adjustments they reported that their foot or ankle stopped hurting and the numbness was going away. In the absence of diabetes, previous foot surgery or statin drugs, most people have a very good prognosis for relieving the foot pain or numbness associated with bad posture by using the ABC™ protocol.
There certainly is an ideal heel-to-toe ratio for each patient. Wearing shoes that are too flat or much too tall will equally lead to problems. High heels are the absolute worst if you are seeking pain relief.
For most women, I’ve noticed that regular use of high heels leads to increased neck pain that can become severe, especially when wearing high heels right after an adjustment. That’s not to say you can’t ever wear high heels again. But when patients are in pain relief mode, I advise against it until things stabilize.
On the “flip” side of the coin, flip flops are just as bad, but for the opposite reason (no pun intended. Okay maybe it was!)
Flip flops (shower shoes) don’t offer any heel height. The flimsy nature of the shoe doesn’t support the foot as a whole. And brands like Teva usually have a built-in “bump” where the arch support would go, making things even worse. Flip flops enhance your slumped posture. Want to look more like your grandmother even quicker? Keep wearing shower shoes!
Slumped posture, which is enhanced by extremely low heels, tugs on the spinal cord and on the nerves as they branch off of the cord, increasing pain and numbness levels. It also prevents proper unwinding and causes setbacks for patients under ABC care.
The front end is curved up which raises your toes higher than your heels. This foot position is termed a “negative heel”. Unfortunately, if you wear these kinds of shoes without fixing them first it messes with your whole body posture and makes you lean forward, even more than flat heels. One of the most important things to understand about getting your body fixed is this: When your body leans forward then it doesn’t work as good or feel as good as when it is upright.
Dr. Jerry Porter, DC, Contributor