I try to be a bit intuitive when it comes to writing my posts. So after being asked for the fourth time this week about ankle pain, knee pain, and the benefits of Orthotics; I figured that was my hint to provide you with some sound information so that you can make the decision.
Do you have ankle pain, heel pain, or knee pain? Have you been told that Orthotics was the only solution to your problem?
Well I have a surprise for you.
The first thing I want to share with you quickly is that the ankle is an unbelievably complex joint. It can affect everything from having proper posture, to whether or not you experience shoulder pain, believe it or not.
Often orthotics are suggested as a way to address ankle issues or poor bio-mechanics in walking or running. And without a doubt, in many cases the pain issue is addressed -- at least in the short term.
You see orthotics are like any other brace, splint or crutch, they provide support to a weak area. So if certain muscles are not working properly, the orthotics provide the necessary support to relieve the overworked muscles that are creating the pain. However, like any support mechanism, it is only meant to be used for a short period of time. During this "assistance phase" you should also be working to both strengthen and increase the range of motion (mobility) of the area -- in this case the ankle.
Think of it this way. Let's say your legs are sore and tired. To deal with this issue you decide to use a wheel chair in order to relieve the discomfort. After several months you get rid of the wheel chair and go back to your normal routine. Would your legs be any better prepared to deal with your routine?
You see unless you've done some specific work to strengthen the weak areas that were leaving your legs feeling sore and tired, the problem will just re-surface. And in some cases even get worse or cause other problems.
Now this is not to say that some people do not sincerely need orthotics, for example, those with significant differences in leg length, or other structural issues, etc. What I am saying is that many times people use orthotics as a quick fix to a much larger problem -- that of weak and stiff ankles and/or hips.
Below I've included one excellent article and 3 basic videos that I believe are very helpful when it comes to both alleviating ankle pain, and/or strengthening the area before problems begin.
So before you decide on committing to orthotics indefinitely, give these movements (stretches and exercises) a try. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
The Alphabet Exercise for Ankle Pain (video below)
This is obviously not the last word on improving the function of your ankle or eliminating pain, but these videos should provide you with an excellent start.
Remember, don't let your commitment to comfort stop you from being healthy!
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