Do Custom Running Orthotics Really Help?

Runners have a tendency to believe that any issues or injuries they experience can be addressed solely from an athletic perspective. Great shoes, form fitting athleticwear, and even the right socks can drastically change a runner’s experience. When a runner is experiencing significant, abnormal, or persistent foot pain, a change of gear may not be the answer.

Some runners, particularly those who frequently experience injuries or post-running soreness, may benefit from the use of custom orthotics. While orthotics aren’t the perfect solution for everyone, people who would otherwise have a need for them will find that running becomes easier when they have custom inserts.

Is A Foot Deformity Causing My Running Injuries?

Foot deformities can contribute to running injuries if they’ve proven to exist. Many runners, particularly those who attempt to meet ambitious goals in a short period of time, injure themselves by other means. Overuse injuries are common in runners who don’t allow enough recovery time, or attempt to increase intensity or duration of their runs too quickly.

In some cases, improper form while running, running on harsh terrain, or ill fitting running shoes can be the cause of recurring running injuries. A combination of factors can work in synergy to contribute to foot pain. Techniques and practices need to be ruled out before an accurate determination can be made. An examination of the feet is necessary to determine how the shape and form of the foot may be contributing to running injuries. If orthotics are needed, they can be professionally customized by a specialist.

Using Orthotics To Recover From Injuries

When a runner experiences a foot injury, he or she may worry that athletic progress may stall during recovery time. Runners can still run within moderation during recovery from many injuries, and orthotics might be able to make running more comfortable throughout the recovery period. These benefits are subject to some unique conditions.

General fit orthotics (such as packaged solutions one might find at a big box store) will not be matched to a runner’s needs during recovery. Prefabricated solutions won’t be able to provide the necessary support the foot needs while its recovering. Runners who rely on standard orthotics during their recovery process may find that it takes longer to heal or that the injury worsens with time.

Utilizing custom orthotics throughout the recovery process. A 2011 study of runners using orthotics during recovery found that the majority of respondents reported reduced foot pain with the use of a custom solution. This reduction of pain is prevalent in both runners who use orthotics for foot injuries and runners who use them for knee injuries. Many runners find their custom orthotics helpful enough to continue using them even after they’ve fully recovered. The additional support reduces the potential for injury recurrence.

Do Runners Need Custom Orthotics?

An outdated theory surrounding pronation heavily impacted the way orthotics and injuries were addressed in the past. Many medical practitioners would address pronation issues with custom orthotics designed to correct them. Many runners found them comfortable, but studies were unable to correlate the level of comfort with the correction of the pronation of the runners’ feet. This lead many doctors and podiatrists to the conclusion that it was the comfort provided by orthotics, rather than their corrective aspects.

Most runners, particularly those who experience overpronation or underpronation, will benefit from the use of custom orthotics. Orthotics that fit comfortably and accommodate the body’s natural motion will promote a better running experience. Even if the body’s natural mechanics aren’t ideal for running, the potential for injury can be reduced by using a custom orthotic that will support a runner’s body however it works best.

It’s important to note that while orthotics can provide a more comfortable experience, they aren’t a replacement for proper running practices. Even runners with custom orthotics should still slowly and steadily increase the intensity of their running workouts, take time to recover between runs, train with safe practices, and run with proper form. Combining common sense practices with the use of custom orthotics can help runners meet their goals, whether they’re trying out for marathons or just looking to get fit.

Are Running Orthotics Right For Me?

The only way to know whether or not running orthotics are a good choice for you is to try them. As long as the orthotic is comfortable to wear, it makes sense to continue using it. The best way to determine comfort level is to assess whether running with it feels better than running without it. If it does, than your custom orthotic is doing its job.

If running orthotics are uncomfortable for you, this can be for one of two reasons. Either the fit isn’t right, or you don’t actually need the device. A doctor, a podiatrist, or an orthotist in Tucson will be able to tell you if you would benefit from using running orthotics based on an examination of your feet. If you’re an ideal candidate, we’ll be able to create a comfortable custom fit for you.