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Biomechanics and Orthotics

Biomechanics is the application of the laws of physics to the human body. It enables us to apply mechanical principals to the lower limb in both stance and motion.

Biomechanical principles enable us to assess your foot and lower limb function with much greater scientific and diagnostic accuracy.

Your foot is an amazing and complex structure – a lever system over which your whole body is propelled forwards. The foot is also a shock absorber, cushioning anatomical structures within the foot and lower limbs from the huge forces placed through it at every step.

Foot function normally becomes faulty foot function due to a variety of reasons including genetics, aging, physical stresses, disease processes, injury and poorly fitting footwear. One or more of these factors produce misalignments of the joints and soft tissues within the foot resulting in impaired biomechanical function.
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Our podiatrists aim to readdress your musculo-skeletal imbalances from your foot upwards. For biomechanical assessment we recommend that you wear shorts so that the podiatrist can view your feet and legs with ease. We also ask you to bring a small selection of your everyday and sports shoes to check their fit and function.

Biomechanical assessment enables your podiatrist to help diagnose your foot problem and recommend appropriate treatments which may include footwear advice, orthotic (insole) therapy, exercise therapies or external referral for further diagnostic tests. We may recommend referral to an orthopaedic or podiatric surgeon for a surgical opinion.

If your case requires in-depth analysis, the podiatrist may ask you to walk or run on a treadmill so that your motion can be digitally recorded and assessed in slow motion.

You may also be asked to walk over a computerized ‘Footscan’®. This captures the dynamic vertical forces within your foot and can be used for diagnostic purposes and to produce semi-rigid customized orthoses that are specifically designed to reduce areas of high pressure within the foot.

Orthotic (Insole) Therapy

Orthoses (insoles) encompass a large range of products designed to alter the anatomical position and function of the foot. These include simple heel raises, metatarsal pads, mass-produced off-the-shelf devices, customized orthoses (insoles) and ankle foot orthoses (AFOs).
They also come in a huge range of materials, from soft leather through to semi-rigid polypropylene. Generally we prescribe semi-rigid devices as we find that these produce the best therapeutic results. These devices are currently manufactured from a plaster of Paris impression of your foot and data from your biomechanical assessment.

The Letchworth Clinic’s orthotics (insoles) are not only supremely comfortable and easily tolerated, they are also durable. They are flexible enough to be worn by Olympic-level athletes yet durable enough to withstand the forces applied by 20-stone builders working all day in their safety boots. Age is not a barrier as our youngest patient is 3 years old whilst our oldest is a fabulous 97 years young!

We also prescribe a range of customised AFO’s (Ankle Foot Orthoses) such as the Richie Brace™ which can be used to manage a range of complex foot problems such as dropped foot and Posterior Tibial Tendon Dysfunction (PTTD).

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