Alignment is critical to alleviating the symptoms of runner’s knee and other pain conditions, and orthotics can help create balance. A startup in Manhattan is attempting to glamorize these foot health supports. Beware.

Posture and pain conditions

Posture can be a major contributor to pain conditions. Simple steps can help keep the body properly aligned. In the case of shin splints or knee problems, one way to alleviate pain and improve function is with orthotics.

“Foot orthoses (also known as ‘orthotics’) are custom foot supports,” explains podiatrist Amol Saxena, DPM. “They are designed to fit your feet more efficiently than over-the-counter (OTC) arch supports and balance the biomechanical inadequacies of your feet and legs.” In other words, they are great for curbing foot pain.

NYC company selling orthotics to hipsters

A startup in Manhattan began getting press earlier this year for using 3-D printers to create orthotics for young, in-the-know clientele, claiming that it is not just a health startup but a “lifestyle brand.”

The company, called Sols, really does have some creative ideas about how to sell something that has always been characterized as functional. By combining their orthotics fittings with candlelit yoga classes and cocktail parties, they allow those suffering from shin splints and other ailments to get corrective devices while mingling with other urbanites and relaxing.

The idea of health issues being turned into a party is obviously a bit ridiculous, though. Justin Rocket Silverman of The New York Daily News finds the business’s marketing efforts humorous, chiding them for turning medicine into a networking event.

Since 3-D printers are a top focus of investors and have even been used by medical researchers to build human organs, it’s no wonder that this media-savvy company is using them to make their shoe inserts. Traditionally orthotics are made for foot pain patients using a plaster cast. At Sols, photos of the feet are converted into a digital model that is then sent to the 3-D printer for production.

Amateur hour for orthotics

Some podiatrists are skeptical because they think the startup is more concerned with sales than biomechanics. One of them is Dr. Robert M. Conenello, who is particularly bothered by Sols marketing VP Joy Altimare’s statement that everybody should wear supports.

“I disagree that everyone can benefit from an orthotic,” says Conenello. “If you have a weakened foot and put support in there you could be weakening the foot even more.”

Conenello also argues that the use of a plaster cast will produce better results than visual imaging.

Getting professional help

There is a reason that orthotics are so helpful for people with runner’s knee and other pain conditions: they help establish better alignment. Be careful where you get your orthotics, though.

If you are suffering from chronic pain, you owe it to yourself to seek professional care. Tap the knowledge of our team of Medical Doctors, Chiropractors, Nurses and Physical Therapists. Get help now!