“Posture” simply means the way you hold your body while sitting or standing. But the complex combination of muscle groups and other body tissue involved in creating healthy posture is a little more complex, involving nearly every muscle group in the human body including the neck muscles, abdominals, back muscles, leg muscles, and feet.
While the body’s “core” tends to get the spotlight when it comes to good posture, one of the most significant–but often overlooked–contributors to good posture is the feet and arches.
Which raises the question: Can orthotics–which support the feet and arches–improve posture?
In this article we’ll explore why good posture is important to your overall health, and whether orthotics can help you gain the benefits of good posture.
Overall Health Benefits of Good Posture
In Western culture, good posture is often seen as just a sign of a cultured, refined person. However, the recognized benefits of good posture go much deeper than propriety.
When the body’s muscle groups, ligaments, tendons, and bones are working together properly while sitting or standing, each group is able to work more effectively individually and as a whole. Good posture can improve overall blood circulation and can also reduce strain, aches and pains to the neck, shoulders, back, and hips.
Healthy posture is also critical for reducing and minimizing the amount of wear and tear placed on joints and fascia throughout the body. Additionally, it helps avoid atrophy and overuse of different muscles throughout the body, since muscles are being engaged properly and in cohesion.
Postural Benefits of Wearing Orthotics
Wearing orthotics can have a tremendous positive impact on good posture, since the way the feet absorb and distribute impact has a big effect on the rest of the body. While orthotics are often seen as just a solution for heel pain, they can also be used as simple at-home solution to improve posture in the following ways:
Correct Gait Abnormalities
Your feet are your foundation every time you run, walk, jump, or stand. The impact from these simple daily activities, combined with the weight of the human body can place a great deal of strain on the heel and arch of the foot. Over time, as the body tries to compensate for this strain and pain, gait abnormalities can develop that result in poor posture.
Since orthotics help lift the arch to an optimal height and cushion the heel, the feet (and therefore the ankles, legs, hips, etc.) are more balanced, helping you avoid stumbles and falls that can injure or throw any number of the body’s muscle groups, bones, or tissues out of alignment and creating poor posture.
Pronation is where your foot turns too far inward as you step forward, causing the arch to flatten excessively. Pronation is associated with increased incidences of plantar fasciitis, heel pain, gait abnormalities–and poor posture. Orthotics can help correct overpronation while you walk.
Distribute Weight and Impact More Effectively
Because orthotics cushion and support the arch, you’re able to more effectively distribute and bear the weight of walking, running, and jumping. And when your arch is able to do its job in absorbing impact effectively, you’ll feel less aches and strain to your hips, back, and legs.
What to Look for in Orthotics to Improve Posture
There are a lot of different orthotics to choose from on the market. If you’re looking to improve your posture, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following qualities:
Lightweight: Heavy orthotic shoes can negate some of the positive postural effects of using orthotics in the first place, and don’t allow for much flexibility in rotating between different pairs of shoes. Look for lightweight orthotic inserts that can be added to any pair of shoes.
Cost effective: There’s not much evidence that expensive prescription orthotics are any more effective than inexpensive orthotic inserts (some of which are more than 90% effective in treating heel pain and plantar fasciitis!) Balance quality with cost!
Cushioning and Supportive: The perfect blend of support and cushioning can be surprisingly hard to find. If you can crush your orthotic insert in your hand, it’s not likely to stand up very well to the rigors of walking, running, or jumping. Make sure your chosen orthotic is sturdy enough to stand up to some pressure while still providing cushioning for your heel and arch.
Fascia Bar Technology: This patented technology brings the arch to the optimal height for support and comfort during physical activity. This innovative technology helps the arch tremendously with weight distribution and impact absorption.
There’s no question that posture is important. And there’s little doubt that the right pair of orthotics can help you reap the benefits of healthy posture by keeping your gait, balance, and ability to absorb impact properly on point.