Podiatric bio-mechanics provides a system by which the cause of a symptom(s) can be pinpointed and correction applied, when the origin of the symptom lies in the structure or function of the foot or ankle. It is now widely acknowledged that the symptom may not be restricted to the foot and ankle but may extend as far as the lower back. Although there may be debate over the cause of a pain (symptom), it is usually possible for us to make our evaluation using measurements of the structure and by assessing, qualitatively, the joint action of the lower limbs, in order to either remain in the debate or leave it. Put simply, if the structure is correct and if it works normally, treatment of the symptom should be re-directed.
Certain clues indicate when the structure, or its function, is likely to be unsound. The structural and functional condition can be measured and correction or protection then prescribed, as the case deserves. Therefore the viability of Podiatric Bio-mechanics is usually a clear cut issue.
Podiatric bio-mechanics is the route to the solution of many lower limb and often lower back problems, particularly when it seems that all else has failed.
Note 1 It is worth remembering that symptoms caused by bio-mechanical inconsistencies generally have only a bio-mechanical solution, other solutions tend to be either temporary or to mask the problem by relying upon pain control.
The lower limb structure is subject to a high rate of structural change during growth. For this reason until approximately age eight years podiatric intervention using orthotic devices is normally inappropriate except when applied by a paediatric specialist. Beyond this age positive results may still be achieved through an exercise routine, however in certain cases the careful use of prescribed orthotic shoe inserts will be appropriate. It is clear that in early life a regime of high activity and physical exertion is good preparation for strong leg muscle development and it is the muscles not only of the foot but of the lower leg which support the structure of the foot and ankle so well. However:
Note 2 Reliance upon muscle development in order to correct a structural abnormality may; upset the natural balance of the associated muscle structure, may revert to the original state if the routine is relaxed, may revert with increasing age and, on balance, may be more troublesome than the application of simple structural correction.
There is no upper age limit to the beneficial use of orthotic insoles, but certain types may be deemed unsuitable for feet which have been placed "at risk" by underlying medical conditions.
The use of orthotic devices in sport is growing apace as awareness of bio-mechanical function slowly takes its place. Those indulging in extreme competitive effort are increasingly addressing the questions surrounding the issues of “self protection”, “over-use”, the age effect and the need to resolve that niggly little problem. The tiring mantra that physiotherapy is the solution to all sporting aches and pains is finally and rightly, being tested.