REHAB IN MOTION: Custom orthotics are a joy to the feet

Pronation and supination are two of the main movements of the foot and ankle.

Pronation occurs when the heel bone angles inward and the arch collapses, while supination is the opposite. Supination and pronation are a normal part of the gait cycle. They allow the foot to absorb shock and adapt to uneven surfaces.

However, too much of these motions may cause injury. The symptoms of excessive pronation or supination can include localized foot pain, bunions, arch pain, heel pain, leg and knee pain and even hip or back pain.

The best way to correct excessive pronation or supination is through the use of a custom orthotic.

A custom foot orthotic is a custom-made three-dimensional insert that is placed in your shoe to help the pain and discomfort caused by lower limb injuries.

Orthotics work by decreasing high-pressure areas, and stabilizing or cushioning the foot. Orthotics will not permanently change your anatomy and will function only when you are standing or walking on them. Custom orthotics work on your feet much like glasses work on your eyes - they reduce stress and strain on your body by bringing your feet back into proper alignment.

Custom orthotics will not reduce muscle tone. They will help position your foot so you will be using the right muscles at the right time, minimizing fatigue and allowing your muscles to be used more efficiently.

Orthotics are commonly used to relieve symptoms of common injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, neuromas, and various foot and ankle tendon injuries, as well as helping individuals with diabetes or arthritis.

Orthotics complement other treatments such as physiotherapy, stretching, icing, and massage.

Custom orthotics fit into your shoes as comfortably as an insole - and they have the advantage of having been made from precise imprints of your feet.

There is a difference between custom functional orthotics and “orthotics” made in sporting goods stores.  Custom orthotics are based on a specific assessment of your gait and are built specifically for the shape of your foot. Off the shelf orthotics function as an arch support, but may not be specifically designed to correct the mechanics of your foot.

For the most part any shoe that has a removable insole will work with your custom orthotic. Just remove the insole that came with the shoe and replace it with the custom orthotic.

There are also shoes that are specifically designed to accomodate custom orthotics, as well as custom sandals and clogs that have a custom insole built right in.

Rehabilitation in Motion uses a technology called GAITSCAN to prescribe custom orthotics. GAITSCAN uses a pressure plate to measure the forces through your foot as you walk.

The information from the pressure plate as well as a physical exam and history of symptoms are used to create an orthotic specific to your feet.

Not sure if an orthotic would be beneficial? Come and have a GAITSCAN done and get the information to decide for yourself.


Ben Chatterson is a physiotherapist at Rehabilitation in Motion which has four Island locations including two in Campbell River – Willow Point (250) 923-3773 and Quinsam (across from Save On Foods), (250) 286-9670 – as well as Comox Valley (250) 334-9670 and Port Alberni (250) 723-9675. Ben Chatterson works at the Comox Valley Clinic. Visit

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