Biomechanics & Orthotics at the Fairbourne Clinic


Bio-mechanics is a branch of medical technology which deals with the structure and engineering of the human body, with particular emphasis on motion and mobility.

Most people (85%) are not born with ‘perfect’ feet from an engineering point-of-view, but will have one or more ‘structural defects’. These areas will normally manifest themselves as problems in middle age, or maybe even later. In more severe cases the symptoms will appear much earlier, with teenagers complaining of knee pain. Some people may develop bunions or even hammer toes at a very early age, or the more commonly recognised ‘flat-feet’. Pain, or any foot or toe deviation would be indicative of a possible Biomechanical fault, and would be worthy of investigation.

It may surprise you to know that as well as heel pain and arch discomfort, many knee, hip, back and neck problems actually have their origins in the feet. For example, someone who walks with an excessively pronated (very flat) foot is likely to develop knee and lower back pain as a result. On the other hand, limited ankle dorsiflexion (upward movement at the toes) will create strain when walking up hill, and could create either knee and lower back pain or neck pain. The specific combination of problems will vary from patient to patient, as will their symptoms, which may include corn and callous, hallux valgus (bunion), Morton’s Neuroma, or perhaps just unexplained pain (either when at rest, or during exercise). All of these symptoms will be used as part of a Bio-mechanical Assessment of the patient, to help the practitioner to pin-point the degree and type of problem.

Having found that the patient does indeed have a Bio-mechanical problem, what can be done? The next stage of the treatment is to prescribe an ORTHOTIC.



Orthotics are called many things by different people, such as orthotic devices, foot appliances, inserts, insole or arch supports. Although orthotics may resemble old fashioned arch supports, that is the one thing that a true biomechanical orthotic is NOT. They do not work on the principal of holding up the arch, but by changing the positions and time sequences taking place in the various foot segments, so that no one muscle has to work longer or harder than it should, they do their job of IMPROVING FOOT FUNCTION. Using a biomechanical orthotic may render patients pain free, and will also help to prevent further deterioration.

Clinicians and researchers throughout the world have established that if the feet and legs are not in the correct position at exactly the right time, then abnormalities in gait are likely to occur, resulting in overstrain and eventually injury to bones, joints, muscles and tendons. Arthritis is a likely occurrence. Muscles that pull either in the wrong direction or at the wrong time, due to dysfunction, will cause tiredness to occur. It has been stated by some authorities that people suffering from this type of walking difficulty may use up to 300% more energy to complete the same task as those without.

What are the problems associated with the use of orthotics? - Very few.

There may be initial discomfort while the body accustoms itself to the new position. This may manifest itself as pain in calves, buttocks, groin, or sometimes in the back. The degree will, of course, vary from patient to patient, according to the severity of the problem being treated. However, your practitioner will be monitoring you for this. The only other ‘difficulty’ is that the best results are obtained from a shoe that comes well up the foot (preferably a lace-up), although improvement can still be obtained in a more limited way even in fashion shoes.

This treatment is not cheap, but neither is it expensive. For around the price of a nice outfit, or a gentleman’s 2-piece suit you can be assessed and measured, fitted and checked. Now, isn’t that worth thinking about the next time you say ‘Oooh- my feet are killing me!’