Comparing Orthotics to Foot Strengthening Exercises
In our previous posts, we have described the limitations of orthotics to correct lower leg alignment and treat foot and leg conditions compared to Physical Therapy exercises. In addition, long term orthotic users often show atrophy of the foot's core muscles which leads to further weakness and dysfunction. Instead of orthotics, an active approach designed to strengthen the foot's core muscles has been shown to have a significant impact on both lower quarter pain and function. A recent article compared orthotics and strengthening exercises to improve arch height, static and dynamic balance.
Kim and colleagues randomized healthy participants to either wear an orthotic or perform short foot/core strengthening exercises (J PT Science, 2016). The exercise group performed strengthening exercises 30 minutes per day, 3 days a week, for 5 weeks. Upon re assessment, the foot strengthening group was superior to the orthotic group on arch height, static and dynamic balance assessments. This study adds to our existing research supporting the foot's need for both mobility and strength, not rigid orthotic supports.