Biomechanics

Biomechanics is concerned with preservation, restoration and development of the function of the foot and its associated structure. Biomechanics refers to the use of mechanical methods in the diagnosis and treatment of the function of the foot and the lower limb.

A lot of biomechanical problems are treated with orthotics. These are insoles made specifically for each patient to improve foot function and to reduce their symptoms.

There are many biomechanical investigations podiatrists use to help them assess and evaluate the patients they treat. Treatment nominally consists of an assessment which takes into consideration the alignment of foot and ankle upon the leg as well as joint and muscle function. A plaster cast of the foot will be taken together with a prescription which is sent to a specialist laboratory for the manufacture of the orthotic device.

The type of orthoses chosen may restrict the style of shoe that can be worn or may require a ½ size increase in the shoe; however there are orthoses that are designed for court / high heel dress shoes but may lose some of the functional integrity of the device.

Many lower limb problems that effect adults can be traced to child hood due to malalignment of the foot and leg and as the body matures it is less able to deal with the stress and demands placed upon it.

These symptoms can include:

  • Bunions,
  • Painful lesser toes,
  • Painful corns and callus
  • Burning / stabbing type pain
  • Weak and painful ankles
  • Generally tired, painful feet that are difficult to fined comfortable shoes.
  • It is not uncommon for symptoms to include lower leg, knee, hip and back pain.


Other groups of patients are prone to developing biomechanical problems as a result of a disease they have. Two examples of these are rheumatology and diabetic patients. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease that deforms joints including those in the legs and feet. Diabetes may effect the circulation, nerve conduction, skin integrity, causing stiff joints and deformity. Podiatrists get involved in biomechanical assessments of these patients to reduce and slow down the changes taking place and improve comfort as well as increasing their stability and ultimately keep them as mobile as possible.