Biomechanics (also known as gait analysis) is the study of the movement of the bones and muscles and how they affect our walking, running and standing. It is essentially a study on how and why the human body moves the way it does.
Within podiatry it is a whole body assessment but focusing on the lower limb function and the forces that act on the limbs. With the information gathered we would aim to improve posture and prevent or reduce the risk of injury.
If you are experiencing chronic or acute pain or a musculoskeletal condition within the lower limb you could benefit from a biomechanical assessment. Pain in the lower limb can be caused from a problem within the foot or somewhere further up the body.
Conditions which may benefit may include:
- Foot and heel pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Ankle pain
- Shin splints
- Calf pain
- Achilles tendon problems
- Hip, knee, lower back pain
- Postural problems
- Flat feet
- Limb length difference
Most biomechanical conditions seen within podiatry can be significantly helped with orthotics.
Orthotics are usually custom made or prefabricated inserts placed within the shoe to restore our natural balance and foot function by re-aligning the foot and lower limb, thereby improving function and efficiency. Orthotics can help you move more comfortably but they will not change the structure of the adult foot. There is a significant difference between ‘regular insoles’ and an ‘orthotic’. Insoles are purely designed to provide a cushioning effect and shock absorption; they do not address any biomechanical problems. Orthotics are a functional device designed to correct and optimise foot function, they can also include the cushioning and shock absorption however.
Orthotics often need to be used in conjunction with muscle and tendon rehabilitation, stretching and strengthening in the whole lower limb.