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A ToronTo orThoTics clinic helps you puT your besT fooT forwArd by VeronicA boodhAn

feet provide your body with the support that

it needs. From your posture to your overall balance, maintaining proper foot health is important for your overall wellbeing.

So when experiencing discomfort in your feet, it is crucial to seek treatment to keep your feet healthy and active.

“A person’s posture can be compared to the foundation in a house. If there is a structural defect or the foundation fails and collapses on one side, then every part of the house above the defect is affected,” says Dr. John Hardy, owner of Academy Foot and Orthotic Clinics. “Your feet form the foundation for your body and posture... [Changes in] the normal mechanics of the ankle, knee, hip and spine [can] cause premature wear and tear of the involved joints and lead to early degenerative changes such as osteoarthritis.”

Founded more than 30 years ago, Academy Foot and Orthotic Clinics in Toronto has been dedicated to treating foot conditions that plague thousands of Canadians, including pain

experienced in the arch and heel (plantar fasciitis), front of the foot (metatarsalgia), toe and Achilles tendon, as well as heel spurs, hammer toes, ingrown nails, bunions, corns and callouses.

Hardy and his wife, Marz, who is a chiropodist and foot specialist, along with the clinic’s team of foot specialists, help to provide their patients with state-of-the-art foot care and custom-made orthotics. “Our clinic has always had a very keen interest in foot mechanics and how that relates to posture and the biomechanics of the spine. Very early in practice we saw that if the postural defects of the foot and ankle were addressed through proper correction with custom-made orthotics, many knee, hip, lower back, neck and even headaches were corrected,” he says.

Orthotics are offered in the form of custom-fitted foot supports, which are inserted into shoes to improve a patient’s balance by addressing his or her individual foot concerns.

“When a person is suffering from a

Fitting orthotics

2informational supplement

particular foot ailment that causes pain such as heel pain, arch pain, bunions, ingrown nails, corns and ulcers, it changes the way that they walk (gait). This eventually leads to problems of the ankle, knee, hip and spine,” says Hardy. “There is a saying, as the twig is bent, so grows the tree. If you change the way that you stand and walk, you affect every joint above the foot.”

Academy Clinics uses state-of-the-art equipment to treat foot conditions, including laser and shockwave therapy, ultrasound, Doppler, interferential therapy, Active Release Technique (A.R.T.) and computerized foot scanning to create orthotics. They also use sports medicine techniques including stretching and exercise to help condition the feet and improve the patient’s overall health.

The team at Academy Clinics also works with other health experts such as medical doctors, orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists, radiologists and chiropractors, and have access to some of the leading forms of surgical equipment and treatments (in addition to ultrasound, MRI and X-ray) including computerized pain-free injections and needle- free injections.

According to Hardy, more than 70 per cent of professional athletes wear custom-made orthotics to help improve their posture and balance when competing in high-energy activities.

People with serious health conditions including diabetes can also find custom orthotics to be beneficial for improving blood circulation and helping to distribute their weight evenly, thus reducing pressure points in the feet.

752 Broadview Ave., Toronto M4K 2P1

“When a patient comes to Academy Foot and Orthotic Clinics, we not only diagnose their condition but follow the treatment through until we are satisfied that we have done everything possible to correct and prevent the condition from occurring again,” explains Hardy. “The emphasis of our treatment at our clinic is not to just address the person’s symptoms, but to find the underlying cause and treat that. We then educate our patients about correct footwear, exercises, posture and what things, for that particular patient, to do or not so the condition doesn’t reoccur or is managed as best as possible.”

Hardy says that one of the most common misconceptions he has heard from his patients is that all orthotics are the same — something that couldn’t be further away from the truth. “[Orthotics] have to be custom-made with a casting from plaster, foam or a computerized 3D laser, as we do in our clinic, in order for the device to be effective and helpful for the patient. Many patients go to trade shows and buy [orthotics that are] one size fits all. They might be less expensive but they are usually not effective and can actually create foot and joint problems,” he says.

He adds that it is important to find a reputable foot specialist, registered with the College of Chiropodists of Ontario, since custom orthotics are often covered by employers’ extended insurance plans. That was the case for one patient for whom Hardy helped create custom orthotics to improve his severe lower back pain due to fallen arches (bilateral pronation).

“He had just retired from the health benefits department and they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of people claiming for orthotic benefits and [he] was trying to contain costs without really knowing much about them other than their cost. Needless to say that was the end of the discussion about orthotics on that visit. He was treated for eight weeks and was discharged after his low back pain subsided. He had a relapse about a year later when the subject of orthotics was suggested once more and he decided that he would give them a try. I told him the worst thing that can happen is that he will feel better,” recalls Hardy.

“He received his orthotics and came back four weeks later to tell me his back pain was gone, he had no more knee pain and he felt better than he had [in] four years. He told me that if he knew how beneficial they were, he would not have tried to limit them as a benefit on their health plan. That patient never ever had back pain again.”

Orthotics typically last two years for adults before they need to be replaced. For children, the orthotics should be replaced once or twice a

Marz Hardy, D.Ch., B.Sc. (Podiatric Medicine)

Using a computerized laser scanning casting machine

year, or when their shoe size has increased. “Many people who suffer with foot

problems do so because of muscle and bone misalignments of the foot and ankle. Each foot has 26 bones, plus two sesamoid bones. That means that more than 50 per cent of your body’s bones are located within your foot as well as countless ligaments and muscles to form an amazing organ that is responsible for balance, support, propulsion and posture,” says Hardy. “Your feet are with you for life.” Dr. John A. Hardy is the owner and office manager of Academy Foot and Orthotic Clinics, where he also works as a consultant. Marz Hardy, D.Ch., B.Sc. (Podiatric Medicine), is a member of the College of Chiropodists

of Ontario (CCO), Canadian Federation of Podiatric Medicine (CFPM), Ontario Society of Chiropodists (OSC) and American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA). In 2006, she was also the first chiropodist in Canada qualified in Active Release Technique (A.R.T.). » academyclinics.com » 416-465-7837


Academy Clinics has a special interest in high quality custom orthotics.



Toronto, ON Chiropodist
Academy Foot and Orthotic

Toronto, ON M4K 2P1 

Across from the Broadview Subway
Professional  Family  Foot  Care