Heel & Foot Support

Heel & Foot Support

Heel and foot support is a critical component of healing from foot injuries. Likewise, proper foot support plays an important role in preventing injuries for those who are at risk, such as athletes or those with weak ankles. When determining the optimal type of foot support for each patient, several factors should be considered. If patients are unsure of which type of support to use, they should consult a physical therapist for guidance.

Proper Body Alignment

Adequate heel and foot support is essential for proper body alignment. Alignment involves several parts of the body, including the head, spine, shoulders, hips, knees, ankles, and feet. When one element of this system is misaligned, the body becomes vulnerable to a variety of conditions and injuries that can occur. For this reason, it is essential for patients to understand the importance of proper support, either for injury prevention or treating existing injuries.

Reasons for Support

There are a number of conditions that may create a need for heel support, foot support, or both. The need for heel and foot support may arise from issues with various components of the foot. These components include bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, fascia, and nerves. Conditions causing the need for heel and foot support include, but are not limited to:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Heel spurs
  • Fallen arches, or “flat feet”
  • Heel bone fractures
  • Stone bruises
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Achilles bursitis
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Extensor tendonitis
  • Sever’s disease
  • Sesamoiditis

Weak Ankles

In some cases, patients can develop weak ankles from conditions such as Achilles tendinopathy, which affects the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. Weak ankles refers to instability of the ankle joint as well as poor functioning of muscles crossing the ankle from the patient’s leg to the foot. Some weak ankle patients are “supinators.” This means that they may overcompensate to avoid the ankles rolling inward, which may result in rolling outward.

Ankle Support

Ankle support is available in several forms, including braces and boots. Ankle support devices range from light to rigid, depending on the level of support that each patient needs. Light ankle support includes bandages and slip-on compression socks. More rigid ankle support may include lace-up braces or boots. These devices restrict rolling inward and outward, but allow for the flexion and extension necessary for walking.

Arch Support

Arch support devices often come in the form of gel or cushion inserts that can be placed inside the shoe on top of or built into the shoe’s insole. These devices act to “lift” the arch, which in turn provides proper alignment for the feet, knees, and back. Custom-made arch support can be designed for patients with specific needs or arch conditions which may not be met by generic products found in stores.

 

 

Sources:

“Ankle/Foot Support Brace.” Long-Term Living Jan. 2011: 12. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.

Fong, Daniel TP., et al. “Effect of medial arch-heel support in inserts on reducing ankle eversion: a biomechanics study.” Journal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research 3 (2008): 7. Academic OneFile. Web. 15 Mar. 2014.

“Proper Body Alignment.” National Osteoporosis Foundation. National Osteoporosis Foundation. Web. 15 Mar 2014. <http://nof.org/articles/549>.