Tian Siqi, 27, works in a job that has high requirements on image and temperament. She is always troubled by her unsightly legs. Recently, Tian Siqi was a little excited when she saw some advertising videos of arch insoles promoting their ability to “effectively improve X-shaped legs and O-shaped legs.” She searched for relevant “evaluation posts” on social platforms and found more than 20,000 related posts, including some sharing of positive user experiences, such as “You can find where your center of gravity is when walking and avoid using your calves to exert force.” But there are also voices of doubt, feeling that arch correctors cannot play the so-called role of “improving leg shape.”
As people pay more attention to health and image, various products such as arch correcting insoles and arch orthotics that claim to be able to improve leg shape have appeared on the market. Are these products really useful or are they just an IQ tax? To this end, the reporter interviewed Wang Lin, deputy director of the Prosthetics and Orthopedics Department of the China Rehabilitation Research Center.
Orthopedic insoles are not the “savior” of leg shape
Wang Lin believes that there is no scientific basis for the statement that leg shape can be improved simply by using arch correction insoles.
Wang Lin first pointed out that foot correction and leg correction are actually mainly targeted at children who are still in the growth and development period. “The so-called O-shaped legs and X-shaped legs are basically the angle between the thigh bone and calf bone when viewed from the front. The normal range is 170 degrees to 175 degrees. If the angle is greater than this, it is O-shaped, and if it is less than this, it is X-shaped.” Children’s bones are in the growth and development stage and have strong plasticity. For example, if a sapling grows crookedly, it can be straightened with the help of external force. If abnormal skeletal development is found in children, under the guidance of a doctor, conservative treatments such as external intervention can be used to improve skeletal problems in the feet, legs and other areas.
Strictly speaking, for adults who have already developed, leg shape correction is actually a false proposition.
“The weight of the human body is transmitted through the pelvis to the thigh bone, and then through the calf bone to the ankle. The foot is equivalent to the foundation of the whole body.” Wang Lin said that the human foot consists of 26 bones, dozens of joints and many muscles and ligaments. Made up of muscles and tendons, the complex structure of the foot provides stability and support to our bodies. Therefore, in the field of foot and ankle medical research, biomechanics are often used to understand and analyze how the foot and ankle joints bear and distribute the weight of the body, and how they interact with the ground during activities such as walking, running, and jumping.
Wang Lin explained that the normal sole structure of the foot is not flat, but presents an arch structure, which is the “arch of the foot.” When we walk or run, our feet go through several different stages: the heel strikes, the ball of the foot fully contacts the ground, and then the toes push forward. In this process, the arch of the foot plays an important role – absorbing pressure and impact, maintaining balance, and reducing stress on the joints and bones of the foot.
“Whether it is the arch insole or the insole inside the shoe, it mainly provides a certain amount of support for the arch, cushioning, reducing pressure, and increasing comfort.” Wang Lin believes that these insoles do not have any other additional functions. If you feel comfortable after wearing the arch insole, it means that the insole has achieved the desired effect. If you have concerns about the appearance of your legs, insoles alone may not make a noticeable improvement.
A recent review article in the academic journal of the American Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Society shows that foot orthotics are designed based on biomechanical principles: by reducing the pressure on a certain area of the foot or ankle, it helps to improve the foot quality. Pain or discomfort in the area. The article makes no mention of its ability to change the shape or appearance of the legs.
Wang Lin further explained: “For adults, it is generally necessary to use biomechanical orthopedic insoles or orthotics in two situations: first, there is pain in the feet, which even affects normal walking; second, there are obvious foot diseases, or It’s other diseases that cause the loss of function.”
Regarding these two situations with medical needs, Wang Lin believes that the role of finished corrective insoles is relatively limited. He suggested that you first receive an evaluation with professional equipment, and then use personalized customized foot orthotics to make some compensation for the height, shape or function of the foot with the help of biomechanical form to ensure the best treatment effect.
How to protect foot and ankle health
“In fact, among young people, the more common situation is sub-health of the foot and ankle.” This “sub-health” does not mean immediate and frequent pain. For example, young people may feel it after walking long distances for one or two days. Foot and ankle fatigue is occurring more frequently than it was a few years ago. Wang Lin pointed out: “As people age, the body will undergo degenerative changes and various functions will gradually weaken. In this state, the body will often activate a ‘compensatory mechanism’.”
The so-called “compensation” means that when a certain part has a function problem or is injured, other parts will automatically adjust to help maintain the body’s balance. “For example, if a person’s forefoot is injured, they may unconsciously shift their weight to the heel to relieve pain; similarly, when a person has a problem with their right leg, they may rely more on their left leg to walk and stand.” Wang Lin That said, sometimes we can detect this subtle physical adjustment, but more often than not, it happens subtly. In the short term, this may be beneficial, helping to maintain limb function, while long-term compensation may lead to other problems or complications.
In Wang Lin’s view, people’s doubts about foot and ankle health issues reflect, to a certain extent, people’s increased awareness of foot and ankle health and their urgent need for relevant knowledge.
In daily life, paying attention to and promptly handling small changes in the body is important for maintaining foot and ankle health. Wang Lin emphasized that if there are no symptoms in the ankle, there is no need for excessive intervention. He recommends choosing the right shoe to ensure adequate support, cushioning and stability for the foot, helping to protect the ankle and reduce the risk of injury.
When you find that comfortable shoes cannot fundamentally solve the problem, you should go to a professional agency for evaluation and receive personalized treatment according to the specific situation. For example, you can “design adaptive auxiliary insoles through biomechanical assessment tests”, or “improve balance with the help of proprioceptive insoles.”
Foot and ankle health is also very important in sports. Marathons and other long-distance running events have grown in popularity in recent years. In September of this year, a study on the feet and ankles of ultramarathon athletes published in the academic journal of the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Association showed that within one year, 71.2% of the 734 ultramarathon athletes participating in the study were active ultramarathons. Athletes have reported foot or ankle injuries that interfere with normal movement.
For people who engage in sports such as running and weightlifting, Wang Lin recommends that after communicating with a professional doctor, consider using supportive insoles to better protect the ankle.
“At present, testing equipment is becoming more and more advanced, and professionals’ cognition and clinical service capabilities also need to be improved accordingly.” Wang Lin hopes that in the future, the country can promote the construction of foot and ankle related specialization, talent and disciplines to meet the public’s demand for Foot and Ankle Health Needs.