As a runner, you likely set out almost daily to improve your body’s health.
You strive to increase your strength and endurance by hitting the trails and the pavement with a drive that is sometimes unstoppable. But what happens when your running regimen starts causing pain in your feet, knees, hips, or back? Fortunately, this is an issue that can often be dealt with solely by wearing foot orthotics—just as it did for one runner who went from experiencing agonizing pain in both feet to winning the 2003 Hispaniola Half-Marathon.
In an article published in Runner’s World magazine, “Orthotics For Your Shoes,” author Ted Spiker shared the story of a young man by the name of Stephen Ondieki. Ondieki was an avid runner whose miles spent on the road resulted in not one, not two, but five stress fractures in his feet. The cause? His feet pronated as he ran. His cure was foot orthotics that worked so well he was able to eventually compete in and win a half-marathon just a few short years later.
While this was certainly great for Ondieki, you may be wondering how foot orthotics can benefit you directly. To find that answer, let’s consult research.
What the research says
In a study published in Clinical Biomechanics, researchers observed 21 volunteers, some running with foot orthotics and the rest acting as a control. It was discovered that the individuals with foot orthotics fared better when it came to preventing injuries, specifically due to the corrected eversion and inversion of the runners’ feet, ankles, and knees.1
In fact, orthotics have been found to be so beneficial that some hospitals regularly use customized foot orthotics to help their patients walk and eventually run without pain and discomfort. University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio, is one such hospital, and they have found that foot orthotics help their patients deal with a variety of issues that can stop them from running, such as ankle sprains, tendonitis in the foot or knee, and plantar fasciitis.2
Make the most of your running
So, if you are a runner and you want to protect yourself from obtaining an injury that can stop your training regimen dead in its tracks, or if you have an injury and want to heal it as best you can, here are a few things you may want to do:
- Buy the right shoes. There are different shoes made for different sports, so make sure your shoe is designed specifically for running. If possible, find a representative that can fit you right in the store, ensuring that the shoe you choose is the best one for your feet.
- Get more than one pair. Shoes wear out over time, and they wear out even quicker when you run in them every day. For this reason, aim to get at least two pairs of quality running shoes, alternating them so that you aren’t subjecting your feet to the same insole day in and day out.
- Consider foot orthotics, if necessary. Whether your goal is to minimize your pain or avoid it, orthotics can help when you have a biomechanical abnormality in your foot. While seeing a podiatrist and getting orthotics fitted will likely produce the best result, even over-the-counter options can help. Just make sure they are the right ones for your feet.
Don’t let an injury sideline your running routine. Contact your podiatrist and see if foot orthotics are for you.
1Mündermann, A, Nigg BM, Humble RN, Stefanyshyn DJ. “Foot orthotics affect lower extremity kinematics and kinetics during running.” Clin Biomech. 2003:18(3);254-262.
2University Hospitals. “Foot Orthotics.” UHhospitals.org. http://www.uhhospitals.org/services/rehabilitation-services/center-for-rehabilitation-services/outpatient-rehabilitation/foot-orthotics. Accessed January 2015.