Do you really need custom orthotics for running?

Custom orthotics are shoe inserts designed to relieve foot pain by correcting how your foot and leg move, allowing you to stand and walk more comfortably. They’ve been successfully used to treat a variety of foot problems, including heel pain, flat feet, high arches, bunions, hammertoes and calluses. However, there’s some debate as to whether orthotics should be the go-to solution for people who experience foot pain while running. Here’s an overview of what you should know about orthotics for runners.

Orthotics for runners: mixed results
Running stores often tell customers that custom orthotics can help with managing pain and preventing injuries if they have flat feet, high arches and runner’s knee. However, studies show that the effectiveness of orthotics in reducing running-related pain varies from person to person. Furthermore, some podiatrists are concerned that runners are overusing and misusing custom orthotics by buying them from running stores without first consulting a foot doctor.

It was originally believed that the main cause of foot pain while running was due to over pronation—the tendency of the ankle to roll inward while running or walking. As a result, foot specialists started prescribing orthotics with a slanted arch and heel designed to tilt your foot outward and prevent it from pronating. However, recent studies don’t show a clear correlation between pronation and running injuries. What’s more, podiatrists now recognize that foot pain while running can be tied to problems other than over pronation and that orthotics may not always be necessary to correct the problem.

Many patients find that wearing orthotics eliminates or greatly reduces the pain they experience while running. For others, however, wearing orthotics doesn’t make much of a difference and in some cases, can make the problem worse, especially if the orthotics weren’t fitted to their feet by a medical professional.

Are custom orthotics right for you?
If you experience pain while running, schedule an appointment with your foot doctor. Your podiatrist will examine your gait to identify the source of your discomfort and determine whether you’re a good candidate for orthotics. They may suggest you try adjusting your running form before resorting to orthotics as the pain may be caused by the way you’re running rather than a problem with your feet.

Since custom-made orthotics are expensive, your foot doctor may also recommend first trying over-the-counter inserts. While these orthotics aren’t custom fitted, the extra cushioning and support may be all you need to reduce your discomfort while running.

If you think you could benefit from custom feet orthotics, visit the Edmonton Foot Health Clinic. One of our podiatrists will help you decide if orthotics are right for you. To make an appointment at our Edmonton office, contact us today.

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