Plantar fasciitis accounts for around eight percent of all running injuries, and is common among runners of all ability levels! One of the best ways to treat heel pain and plantar fasciitis are custom orthotics. However, the benefits of custom orthotics extend further.
Having the ideal running pattern can be tricky because most of us underpronate or overpronate slightly. This means that when you’re running and your heel hits the ground, your foot turns too much, or not enough. Even people who perfect their running pattern experience issues and pain points. The amount of force your feet absorb while running is a lot. Saucony estimates that for someone who weighs 150 pounds will experience forces 4x-7x their weight. That would be up to 1000 pounds of force!
Orthotics are tremendously helpful to runners, whether you are experiencing heel or foot pain or not, because it helps keep the foot and lower body stay aligned, absorbing the impact, and cushioning the foot on hard surfaces. Here are 4 reasons why runners should have custom orthotics:
- They help to improve excessive pronation/supination and gait abnormalities. The consequences of any abnormalities can have a huge impact on your knees and back. Pronating or supinating can increase your chances of developing plantar fasciitis and stress fractures.
- They have the ability to stabilize and improve alignment throughout your body. Having your feet aligned when they hit the ground, helps the rest of your lower body, including legs, hips, and back, work properly.
- They will help improve your posture. Your posture, which can have a positive or negative impact to the rest of your body by causing aches and strains, is tied directly to having a healthy gait and alignment.
- They also help to prevent problems or any further damage, by supporting the muscles and ligaments in your feet.
The most common question we receive is “what type of orthotic should I order?”. It can be challenging trying to determine which orthotic will work best for your needs, as well as the type of activity you intend to wear them for.
Keep in mind:
- You will need to test the collapsibility of your orthotic. If it collapses with pressure from your fingers, then it is not supportive enough to hold up the impact of running.
- Opt for a full length orthotic. You can get orthotics that are ¾ length, sulcus length, and full length. Some runners have found that the ¾ or sulcus length slips and slides around in their shoe.
- Ensuring that you are putting your orthotics in the proper supportive footwear is crucial.
If you’re an avid runner looking for custom orthotics, our recommendation would be our Sport Marathon Orthotics. These are designed to be thinner and lighter than our Sport Active, to ensure that you have the support and comfort when running. It was created for distance running, so that you have the necessary support to the forefoot, while also taking up minimal room in your footwear.
They help to align your lower body and absorb impact, while providing cushioning to your foot when running on hard surfaces. Our Sport Marathon Orthotic helps to relieve Achilles tendinitis, arch pain and strain, bunions, flat feet, fallen arches and fat pad loss, plantar fasciitis, overpronation, and shin splints.
Not only is having a custom orthotic important for runners, but so is the type of shoe they wear them in. With the advancements and technology that companies are using to produce their quality running shoes, most people assume that there is enough support already built in. What they’re forgetting is that all the cushioning is designed for the proper fit of the footwear and comfort. It does not support the bottom of your foot or arch profile.
Now, having a proper fitting, supportive running shoe, doesn’t mean you need the best of the best. There are a lot of really good affordable options out there!
In last week’s blog, we mentioned four important features to keep in mind when selecting footwear.
- Make sure there is a wide enough toe box to accommodate the ball of your foot. Pointy toed shoes force your toes into an unnatural position which can lead to bunions and/or achy feet.
- You want to ensure that there is one thumb width between the end of your toes and the shoe. When you are walking, your foot splays approximately 1cm in all directions.
- The heel height of your footwear makes a difference in comfort levels while walking. A higher heel will increase the pressure on your ankles and balls of your feet, which can lead to injuries, calluses, and bunions over time.
- As always, the ideal footwear is orthotic friendly - meaning the insole is removable. Your feet swell during the day and there needs to be enough room for this to occur without causing you pain or discomfort. Putting an orthotic on top of an insole will create a very tight squeeze.
At Orthotics Direct, we have a huge selection of Asics and Hoka One One running shoes. There is definitely something for everyone!
Most runners will experience some type of lower body problem at some point in their lifetime. The majority of avid runners need custom orthotics in order to ensure their foot properly absorbs the shock. Because of how tricky the ideal running pattern is, it allows for misalignment of your foot’s joints, as well as could cause other problems such as chronic pain, blisters, shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. We know the saying goes “no pain, no gain”, but in this scenario, the pain is only going to worsen. Before it does, try custom orthotics!