The efficacy of an orthotic device in management and treatment strategies of lower extremity pathologies depends on its ability to improve the overall functionality of the foot without compromising on comfort and fit.
By making full contact with the plantar surface of the foot, an orthotic guides the optimal movement of the lower limbs for improvements in gait and balance in addition to re-aligning the musculoskeletal system for the prevention of overuse injuries.
Such an orthotic is able to stimulate the cutaneous mechanoreceptors located in the plantar surface of the foot to enhance somatosensory feedback provided to the central nervous system through all stages of gait.
This enables efficient control during static and dynamic conditions which imply a reduction in additional muscle activity and subsequent fatigue, ensuring the individual is able to maintain a stable gait pattern whilst wearing the orthotic.
A decrease in plantar sensitivity is associated with ageing; full contact orthotics are highly recommended for the elderly population to lower the risk of falls and postural imbalances.
As stated by Nigg et al. in their study on shoe inserts and orthotics for sport and physical activities, from a biomechanical point of view, comfort could be related to the fit of an insert or orthotic.
The heel pad of the orthotic is an important consideration in this regard, with its dual functional roles of reducing impact forces from the ground and protecting the heel bone, to provide maximal comfort to the feet.
Plantar pressure re-distribution is another essential component of a full contact orthotic, with equal distribution of pressure facilitated across the plantar surface of the foot to prevent ‘hot spots’.
These type of orthotics are commonly used in the treatment of structural deformities of the foot such as pes planus and hallux valgus, with the orthotics customised to reduce plantar pressure especially under the heel and metatarsal heads.
The advantage of using MASS4D® customised orthotics is the increase in contact area of the plantar surface which ensures that vertical impact forces are distributed over a larger surface area to minimise loading of high peak plantar pressure otherwise responsible for the development of foot deformities.
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