I am currently studying to be a Pedorthist and the further I get into the process the more I learn that, like many things in life, it is not as easy as it sounds.

The way to become a certified Pedorthist is to work as a Pedorthist for about 6 months to a year, take a series of online classes, attend a week of in-person lectures and pass a certification exam.  Although it sounds simple, it is actually very complicated to meet all of these requirements. For example, it is next to impossible to work as a pedorthist unless you are:  A. already certified or B. a close relative or friend of someone who is certified and will let you work with them while you learn. Also, the in-person lectures are limited to a smattering of obscure locations and awkward scheduling windows seemingly concocted to make them as difficult as possible to attend. Add to this the confusing rules dictated by the two boards of certification (why are two certification boards needed for such a sparsely populated profession, you ask? No one knows for sure). I am beginning to see why there are not more pedorthists in the world.

But it is so worth it.

Ever since I first heard about pedorthics, I knew that it was something I wanted to do. The word pedorthist comes from two Greek roots: Ped meaning “foot” and Ortho meaning “to straighten or correct”.  The title Pedorthist then can be literally translated as “One who makes feet straight”.  It is a strange profession – a mixture of craftsmanship and medicine. A pedorthist examines a patient’s feet, the way they walk, stand and move, then he or she assesses the patient’s needs and recommends solutions to solve their problems. Often the recommended solution is a pair of custom orthotics. It is at this point that the pedorthist takes off their medical jacket and replaces it with a workman’s apron. This professional who completes the patient assessment and interprets the physicians’ prescriptions is often the very same person who steps into the back room and with the help of some foam, plastics, glue and a powerful grinder can fabricate a pair custom orthotics from scratch.

How fascinating. As soon as I discovered the potential to adjust a person’s body by changing the way their feet interact with the ground, I was hooked. In many of the other methods and modalities of exercise science and sports medicine, progress is slow and painful. Just think of how many repetitions of a static hamstring stretch would need to be performed to see a difference in a person’s stride.  It would take weeks or months. Now I am learning to how to create the same effect in a matter of minutes by adding or subtracting from a person’s orthotic. Gratification is instant. The alterations are immediately evident, the patient can detect lessoned muscle tension or soreness, and the pedorthist can see changes in their gait to confirm the improvements.

I am thoroughly enjoying my time as an apprentice, I am gathering hours and experience every day at work. Sometimes I am so absorbed in solving the puzzles of a patient’s problems that I forget I am working at all. I am looking forward to the time when I can officially add the discipline of pedorthics to my repertoire.

I can’t wait to help more people “Walk Well”.