What is the Formthotics Medical System?
The Formthotics™ Medical System consists of:
- 6 simple clinical tests
- Heat mouldable orthotic devices – Formthotics™
- 6 simple steps for fitting and adjusting Formthotics™
The Formthotics™ Medical System has been developed to help clinicians expand on the Podiatric Model of treatment. It adds sensory neuro-motor concepts to the model to make a comprehensive clinical method for assessing lower limb function and improving it with a custom-fitted orthotic.
Using well known assessments – the subtalar motion, alignment, supination resistance, Jacks, balance and forefoot stability tests – practitioners can thoroughly evaluate the requirements of the patient and gain a view of the task required of their specific Formthotics™.
Formthotics™ are a total contact foot orthotic – achieved by thermoforming (heat-moulding) the device and fitting it to the patient's foot. They are made from Formax™, a high grade proprietary thermoformable polyolefin 'closed cell' foam. With greater mouldability than other foams, it will hold a molded shape longer, better and more accurately than other orthotic devices. As a total contact foot orthotic, Formthotics™ provide the best possible neuromotor facilitation and biomechanical control.
Formthotics™ deliver on the mechanical theory by applying pressure to the sole of the foot, altering the posture and movement of the subtalar and other joints. This changes the posture and mechanical function of higher structures in the body.
Recent scientific literature indicates that orthotics have significant effects on balance, stability and the EMG activity of various muscles. It is also stated that orthotics – and more so those that fit closely to the shape of the foot – alter the stimulation of various mechanoreceptor end organs change the afferent input to the nervous system, as well as the efferent neural signals going to the various muscles. Consequently, Formthotics™ have immediate reflex benefits and longer term positive effects on foot posture, balance and motor patterns.
To compliment the total foot contact created by Formax™ foam, Foot Science International have developed 6 simple steps for fitting Formthotics™ that includes the heating process, physical adjustment of the orthotic by grinding and shaping, functional posting as well as in-shoe testing.
How do they work?
The Formthotics™ Medical System model is an application of Panjabi's model of spinal stability that was published in 1992 and has altered the treatment of back pain. Panjabi proposed that dynamic stability was related to the interaction and function of 3 subsystems:
- The Passive Subsystem consisting of the bones, ligaments and capsules.
- The Active Subsystem of the muscles
- The Neural Subsystem of mechanoreceptors, nerves, CNS and motor end plates that controlled the activity of the muscles.
We propose a new paradigm in which musculoskeletal pain stems from adverse effects of our modern environment and lifestyle. This is particularly true of the environment under the foot and modern footwear, which create an environment opposite to that of our genetic evolution.
This modern environment induces mechanical and neuro-motor adaptations in lower extremity function. These are stressful to tissues and will be revealed as "overuse" syndromes if loading is increased or the natural resilience of the tissues is decreased by aging or injury.
Formthotics™ "naturalise" the interface between the body and the environment with beneficial effects on musculoskeletal function, health and enjoyment of life.
A key element in the success of this method is creating total contact foot orthoses. This can be done best by thermoforming Formthotics™. The Formax™ foam will hold a moulded shape longer, better and more accurately than any EVA.
Research has proven Formthotics™ to be effective in reducing pain, treating and preventing injuries and improving patient comfort. In many cases they have been found to be as good, and in some cases better, than custom casted orthotics in the treatment of lower extremity dysfunction.
Larsen et. al 2002 found that customised Formthotics™ drastically decreased incidence of back pain by 20% and lower limb injury such as shin splints by over 10% in military recruits.
Improving foot function and minimising pain
Chia et al. 2009 and Landorf et. al 2006 found Formthotics™ to be very successful in the treatment of plantar fasciitis. Formthotics™ decreased plantar peak forces significantly providing better relief of symptoms than both custom moulded orthotics and competitor pre-fabricated products. Both these studies also found Formthotics™ improve general foot function and minimised pain, improving patient comfort.
Strengthening muscles and tendons
Formthotics™ also encourage "flat feet" to function more like that of a normal arched foot, in turn preventing injury through strengthening otherwise at risk muscles and tendons. This was confirmed by Murley et.al 2010 who compared activity of tibialis posterior and peroneus longus in those with flat feet with Formthotics™ and custom casted devices. He found that tibial posterior activity was significantly increased with use of both types of orthotics, however only Formthotics™ showed improvement of peroneus longus.
Larsen K, Weidich F, Leboeuf-Yde C. Can Custom Made Biomechanic Shoe Orthoses Prevent Problems in the Back and Lower Extremities? A randomised, controlled intervention trial of 146 Military conscripts. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics. 2002;25:5.p. 326-330
Chia J,Suresh S,Kuah Ong J, Phua J,Seah AL. Comparative Trial of the Foot Pressure Patterns between Corrective Orthotics, Formthotics, Bone Spur Pads and Flat Insoles in Patients with Chronic Plantar Fasciitis. Ann Acad Med Singapore 2009;38:869-75.
Landorf K, Keenan AM, Herbert R. Effectiveness of Foot Orthoses to Treat Plantar Fasciitis A Randomized Trial. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:1305-1310
Murley G, Landorf K, Menx H. Do foot orthoses change lower limb muscle activity in flat-arched feet towards a pattern observed in normal-arched feet? Clin. Biomech. (2010), doi:10.1016/j.clinbioamech.2010.05.