Breaking in Orthotics............or Orthotics breaking YOU in!?
People often ask if they really need to break in their new orthotics. If they can hurry up the process. Well that depends on your nervous system!
The instructions to your muscles for walking, running and any other activity you do, come from your brain - and your brain is VERY interested in your feet. The position your feet are in, the sensations from your feet like pressure and texture, where your body weight is balancing on your feet, all this information is fed back to your brain all the time. Your brain digests this information and sends back corrections to the muscles based on this input. This is called sensorimotor control, or neuromotor control...actually we have many names for it but its about the information coming in modifying the information going out.
So when you put an orthotic under your foot, your brain has MUCH more information coming into it - faster and better quality information which helps it to fine tune the instructions to your muscles. But it can't do this overnight. It needs to LEARN how to do it. This is called MOTOR LEARNING and takes on average 2 weeks when first breaking in an orthotic.
This is why we ask you to wear in the orthotic slowly. Increasing the hours you are using it by one hour a day during easy activity so the brain has plenty of time to work out what has changed and how to best react to it. You are often a little uncoordinated for the first few weeks which is why we caution about playing sport in your new orthotics until you have started to learn how to balance and interact with them for walking first. Its like your brain has separate apps for each activity - walking, running, jumping etc - and its best to update those apps one at a time to make sure you dont fatigue or strain muscles that have had to start working harder - or muscles that need to learn that they can now relax! And I am not just talking about foot muscles, I'm talking about muscles all the way up to your back!
Some people learn very quickly, some people take longer and need a few adjustments to their orthotics or shoes to get the muscle 'flow' right. These changes are usually easy to make. We will normally check on you after 3 weeks of breaking in your new orthotics to see how your muscles are adjusting and how comfortable they are feeling.