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Orthotics are inserts which can be custom made or purchased off the shelf. Your foot is more mechanically efficient when you use orthotic inserts. They allow your foot to adapt more easily to running on a flat and hard surface. Orthotics also help align your foot to correct any structural or postural instabilities, preventing increased stress on joints, tendons or ligaments.
When we run, our foot pronates (rolls inward), to allow our foot to absorb shock. Pronation is a necessary motion for efficient running. However, some runners may over or underpronate, which normally results in pain due to the repetitive nature of running. Overpronation is far more common and can be structural or biomechanical.
Structural overpronation occurs due to the boney structure of the arch of the foot. Biomechanical pronation may occur due to abnormalities, higher up the kinetic chain eg. tight calf muscles or decreased medial knee stability.
If you have high arched feet, you will see underpronation of your foot. A foot that underpronates is unable to absorb efficient shock and impact when running. An orthotic in this case helps redistribute this force, preventing stress fractures in the foot or shin.
Orthotics can help in allowing optimal pronation when running, which allows maximum propulsion needed on push off and efficient use of the muscles which trigger this propulsion. These can also help in adjusting the angles at which the foot hits the ground, therefore reducing and eliminating repetitive stresses on particular structures of the foot.
Orthotics can also help with muscle fatigue from running. Muscle fatigue can affect your running form and over time lead to overuse and overload of specific muscles and joints. Orthotics help maintain correct foot alignment, which is turn will help maintain correct running form. This greatly helps reduce the onset of and decreases fatigue. Orthotics also help in facilitating your bodies preferred joint motion path, rather than work against it. This again means the body doesn’t have to work as hard as you run, decreasing muscle fatigue.
To determine the amount of support and type of orthotic you need, doctors analyse your gait patter when you run and walk. Assessing the amount and location of wear on your running shoes is also an important component of assessment. An orthotic should be prescribed with a view to achieve optimal biomechanical control, and only as part of a total treatment plan that also includes stretching and strengthening.
If you suspect you may need orthotics or would like a running assessment, please contact us here to arrange an appointment. Our physio’s can help prescribe exercises to improve your running technique and assess and measure you for orthotics if required.