The human foot is a complex machine, encompassing nearly 30 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles that must work together with every footstep. When this collaboration ceases to function properly, the walk, or gait, is often affected, which can in turn lead to pain and injury in the feet, legs, hips, and back. Orthotic sandals are open-toed shoes specially designed to support and align the foot. With regular use, these sandals can reduce pain and relieve injury by promoting a normal gait and upright posture.
Orthotic sandals are commonly used by those who experience a condition known as pronation while walking. Pronation is the turning inward of the heel of one or both feet, which in turn causes the foot’s arch to flatten as the sufferer steps down on it. This condition is often caused by irregularities in the structure of the foot or the lower leg, and can be aggravated by wearing unsupportive shoes. Left unaddressed, pronation can lead to pain in the feet, legs, hips, and back, and can even cause the foot and leg muscles to develop abnormally over time.
In many cases, normal sandals provide little foot support, making them difficult to wear for those who suffer from pronation or other gait issues. Due to their openness, this lack of support generally cannot be corrected with insertable insoles. Orthotic sandals feature a specially designed foot bed that encourages proper gait and posture by limiting the heels’ movement. This design gives those who suffer from gait-related pain and injury the option of wearing open-toed shoes in hot weather or while indoors.
As orthotic sandals can quite dramatically alter the gait and posture, it is recommended that the wearer at first use them for only short periods of time. He can then increase his wear-time bit by bit as his body adapts to its improved carriage. After approximately two weeks, the wearer should feel comfortable using his orthotic sandals as much as he wishes. It should be noted that the more the sandals are worn, the greater the overall improvement to the wearer’s gait will be.
Those with advanced structural abnormalities of the feet or lower legs might consider consulting a physician, who may recommend orthotic sandals that are custom-made to suit the individual’s needs. For those with milder gait abnormalities, a more universal type of orthotic sandal may suffice. These sandals are available in an increasingly wide range of styles and can be purchased from many specialty shoe stores.