As we age, sometimes mobility decreases due several reasons. Falling down can happen to the best of us and might just seem like and embarrassing inconvenience. However, injuries directly resulting from a fall in the elderly are the leading cause of hospitalisation and one of the top three causes of injury-related death (NZ ACC 2012). One in three people aged 65 and over are falling each year. How can we delay this from happening, gain more control and stability in our feet, and prevent falls?
Some of the reasons mobility can decrease are:
- Decreasing muscle strength and coordination
- Fearful of falling
- Increasing passivity
Environment and Physiological Reasons for Falls
It is well recognised that falls result from the interaction between environmental hazards and physiological risk factors, such as impaired vision, muscle weakness, and slow reaction time. Foot problems are also a common reason for the association with falls.
Specifically, foot pain, reduced range of motion, toe weakness, and toe deformity have each been shown to be independent risk factors for falling. Footwear related risk factors for falls include walking in socks alone or wearing shoes with inadequate fixation (that is, no laces, straps, or buckles), increased heel height, and reduced contact area of sole. Given the emerging evidence that foot problems and inappropriate footwear increase the risk of falls, several guidelines for falls prevention recommend that older people have their feet and footwear examined by a podiatrist. (LaTrobe University Research - 2011)
How Formthotics orthotics can help
A study on the effects of in-shoe thermoformed orthotic devices on static and dynamic balance conducted in Japan by Kiruma Hiruma (Teikyo-University) and Kayo Babano (Osaka International University) in 2009 shows that Formthotics create significant improvements in both static and dynamic postural stability. Most surprising, it also showed that after 6 weeks of using Formthotics, the subjects' balance was improved even if they were not standing on the orthotics. The study indicates that Formthotics act by improving neuromotor function and can improve postural stability in the elderly and other at-risk groups.
Benefits of Formthotics
- Support for your feet
- Comfort for your feet
- Aligns your lower limbs
- Stimulates more control with balance
- Enhanced stability and reduced falling
What research is showing with orthotics affecting lower limb alignment
"There is evidence that neurophysiological factors can affect lower limb biomechanical alignment. This evidence suggests that disrupting the function of intrinsic foot muscles, via induced fatigue, results in excessive foot pronation. The evidence also suggests that impact forces during daily physical activity produce a reaction in the muscles to minimize soft tissue vibration (Research by Keith Rome, PhD, MSc, BSc(Hons), FPodM, SRCh, Douglas Richie Jr., DPM, FACFAS, FAAPSM, and Anna Lucy Hatton, BSc(Hons), CSP on "Can Orthoses and Insoles have an impact on Postural Stability"). Orthoses can augment the medial longitudinal arch, thus altering the muscular work required to maintain foot posture. Foot orthoses also may act to dissipate and absorb this impact, subsequently affecting levels of fatigue, the intensity of muscular work, performance and comfort."
"In addition, when one places orthoses under the midfoot and forefoot, they may provide biofeedback by enhancing afferent feedback from cutaneous receptors on the plantar surface of the feet and reducing eversion due to contraction of the inverting muscles. Furthermore, anatomical factors can affect lower limb biomechanical alignment. Research has shown that induced excessive foot pronation significantly increases internal tibial rotation, internal hip rotation and anterior pelvic tilt. Correcting anatomical malalignment at the foot with orthotic devices may indirectly realign the lower limb more superiorly." Research Paper from Podiatry Today 2010, NZ