For anyone not aware what orthotics are they are custom made insoles that fit inside the shoe. They are designed to decrease abnormal motion of the foot, help re-align your feet to a normal position, restore balance and serve to eliminate or reduce foot pain by improving function and efficiency.
So who needs orthotics? Do runners need orthotics?
The most common reason people turn to orthotics is because they have flat feet or fallen arches.
For those interested in running and competing this is a good reason. A correctly prescribed insole will control the rate of pronation, this is the inward rolling of the foot just after it lands on the ground.
For runners and those with flat feet it’s important to correct this overpronation. This means that the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the rest of the body and shock is not absorbed as efficiently as it could be. Without this correction the big toe and second toe have to do all the work when toe-ing off at the end of our gait cycle. This can possibly lead to overuse injuries, inflammation and simpler problems such as recurring blisters. Common conditions linked to flat feet include ‘shin splints’, ‘plantar fasciitis’, knee pain and chronic ITB (iliotibial (IT) BAND) pain.
There are many ways to be assessed if you think you are a candidate for orthotics. A full bio-mechanical assessment should be performed to identify inbalances in the muscles and joints. A gaitscan can be taken to assist with the prescription process and most importantly a laser scan of the foot or cast of the foot needs to be taken. If all this is done correctly an orthotic can help reduce pain and re-align the foot to its normal position.
So, do runners need orthotics?? If you feel that you need orthotics or suffer from ongoing pain my recommendation would include making an appointment with your therapist and allow them to assess you and get a complete medical history of any injuries or surgery. An thorough examination of the foot and ankle, knee and pelvis and a gaitscan will help determine if you are a candidate for orthotics, or if a treatment and rehabilitation plan is all that is required to resolve the problem.