What Are Orthotics? How Do They Work?

Orthotics act as shims or wedges that are applied between the ground and your feet. These wedges compensate for an angular deformity in your lower leg and ankle, present if not obvious in everyone. When orthotics are used during all weight bearing activity they basically bring the ground up to the foot, improve bio-mechanical function, and decreases clinical symptoms.vv

An orthotic device uses wedges to change the way you walk and stand.

During activity this angular deformity is uncorrected, and your foot and leg must rotate inward to bring the bottom of the foot down to the ground, as you walk, run, and even stand.

When the wedge is in place, the foot does not need to collapse in order to come in contact with the ground. This collapsing motion of the foot is referred to as pronation. Because the leg is connected to the foot at the ankle, as the foot is supinated the leg is externally rotated.

When the wedges are in place, arch breakdown is limited and function during gait is changed.

The collapse of the foot (pronation) is the abnormal motion that occurs when we walk and stand that causes stress on all of the joints, tendons, and nerves that make up the foot. The internal rotation of the leg that is directly related to the collapse of the foot is the motion that places stress on the knee.

The amount of wedging in the orthotic design ultimately determines how much of the unwanted motion in the foot and leg is stopped. This is directly related to the stress on all of the anatomical structures, and the pain, symptoms, and deformity that result.

What Makes Theta Orthotics Different?

Probably one of the best and most important questions that you would ask.  Most of my patients have tried orthotics, and many currently wear some type of orthotic during most weight bearing activities.

Quite a few even send photos of the many different orthotics they have tried. How does one know if the next new orthotic is any better much less even as good as the one they currently use.

Two quantified wedges makes Theta Orthotics unique.

Thirty years ago I learned how to measure (quantify) the important specific angles in orthotic design (Theta). I learned that…

…EVERY 5 DEGREE increase of wedge, up to 37 degrees in the rear foot and 19 degrees in the forefoot, will DOUBLE THE functional BENEFITS of an ORTHOTIC.

  • I saw that most corrective shoes and OTC insoles had 5-15 degrees of angular correction.
  • I saw that most custom orthotics on the market had 10 – 20 degrees of Theta angular correction.
  • I learned that optimal correction was as high as 37 degrees  in many patients.
  • I learned that two specific angles of control (wedges) were important during gait.
  • I learned the wedges could be used independently or together for optimal results.
  • I learned how to stop more of the pain caused by the way we walk and stand, with a progressive treatment using Two Quantified wedges. (Digital Theta’s)

Progressive treatment with Two Quantified wedges, changes gait better, and stops more pain.

Progressive treatment programs using two quantified wedges generate treatment levels between 27 and 37 degrees. Clinical benefit can be more than 4 times that achieved with a treatment using a single level of correction at 17-20 degrees, found in most Prescription Orthotics.

What is Theta?

Theta is the angle of the wedge. 

Theta-Orthotics Science: All devices that control foot function, use wedges to change the way you walk and stand. Proper placement of the wedges during gait compensate for an angular deviation of the tibia. Ultimately the higher the wedge the more change that is created during gait. Theta defines how the wedge is to be measured and ultimately how much change is created in the way you walk and stand.

morton neuroma plantar fasciitistheta custom orthotics“Functional” orthotics are basically angular wedges, strategically placed so as to change the “specific angle” of support, during weight bearing gait. Patent literature over the last 200 years describes orthotics with two basic types of wedges. Some orthotic designs use both types of wedges, MLA and MET, most use just one. Theta is a Greek Letter used in math to represent the value of an Angle. I use it to define the way the functional wedge is measured in any insole, arch support, or orthotic device.

Theta can be measured in any Orthotic Device.

The angle of the wedge defines the physical design, in any foot control device, responsible for change in foot and leg function, or the way you walk and stand. Although the optimal angle of correction has been found to be between 27 and 37 degrees for most patients, treatment must begin at tolerable but helpful level, then progressively increased as the body adjusts to the new way of walking and standing.

More Theta equals more change and less Pain.

Progressive Treatment with Theta Orthotics Stops Pain When Others Have Failed.

Early research with quantified orthotic design, identified a significant relationship between specific angles and  foot function. Basically every 5 degree increase to the varus wedge almost doubled the clinical benefits of the orthotic treatment.

Treatment which begins with a tolerable but helpful level of correction is gradually increased as the foot and body adjusts to the new way of walking. When correction is high enough and gait is changed significantly, conditions aggravated or caused by gait, resolve and chronic pain is eliminated.

If a patients wears an orthotic from another source, I know if I provide a Theta orthotic with 5 degrees more correction, I will significantly improve the benefits derived from use of the device.

Progressive treatment generates help in many conditions that are rarely resolved or helped with traditional orthotics. In the same way that orthodontists progressively increase the tension on the patients braces to achieve the end results they desire, treatment of the foot benefits from multiple increases in the pitch of the wedge measured in any orthotic device.

Progressive treatment is unique to Theta, and provides up to 400 percent more help.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can orthotics cause pain in your foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back?

One of the most common Google search questions on my site…

New pains are frequently reported in other areas of the foot and body. Once the patient is into the treatment, the orthotic begins to change how the foot functions. This can frequently generate a new but temporary pain in another part of the body. These represent positive bio-mechanical changes in both foot function and your posture.

Over the last 30 years I have studied the use of orthotics in almost 8 thousand clinical and internet patients. Each time the angular correction of the custom orthotic is increased, more of the chronic foot pain is alleviated, and new discomforts throughout the body are likely to occur.

IT IS IMPORTANT to remember these new pains are temporary, and accompany the changes that get good results. YES, your orthotics can cause new pains, but they are temporary and good for you. 

Theta heals as it teaches you a new way to walk and stand.

Do I Need to Wear My Orthotics All of the Time?

If the benefit of any foot control device is related to the changes it creates when we walk and stand, the value is directly related to how much it is used whenever the patient is up on his or her feet.

In fact, if a patient fails to use his or her orthotic during sufficient periods of weight-bearing activity, not only are benefits decreased, but the patient may never fully acclimate to the device.

I have many patients with severe conditions who can feel a return or increase in symptoms with only a few steps without their orthotics properly in place. We have all experienced situations where we were trying to teach a small child or animal a new task or trick.  We know that the more consistent we are in teaching the task correctly, the more successfully the task will be learned.

Acclimating to any change in the way we walk and stand requires a certain degree of consistence in order to feel natural with the changes that are created. Often a patient tells me that their orthotics have significantly reduced their symptoms but at night when they are home, a portion of the symptoms return. This is confusing, as before orthotic use the symptoms were most pronounced during the course of their work day and not when they were home and “off of their feet.”

When I hear these comments, I have learned to ask if the patient wears the orthotics around the house when they get home from work. When I learn that they do not because they don’t think they are on their feet much at home or because they do not wear shoes in their home,  I suggest that they humor me and wear them until they go to bed as well as at work and come back to the office in 2 weeks. Inevitably the symptoms subside with full time use and the patient learns the importance of wearing the orthotics all of the time.

Orthotics compensate for the angular deformity present in their feet and legs. If they are not used consistently, a portion of the abnormal function, symptoms and deformity will persist, and the patient may never fully acclimate to the changes that are created.

Additionally if you discontinue use of your Theta’s, thinking you are cured, your symptoms are likely to return.

Theta uses a wedge to compensate for a curvature in your lower leg. This changes the way you walk and stand, as it stops chronic pain throughout the human body.

Live Pain Free Today!

Stop pain without surgery or medications.