Orthoses for running shoes
How orthoses improve your running gait and prevent injuries
Many runners struggle with biomechanical problems which if left unchecked can lead to injury in the long-term. However, a solution can be provided through running orthoses corrective insoles in your running shoes designed to give you a correct running plane. Here's the realbuzz guide to orthoses and orthotics.
Running retailers offer so much more these days than just running shoes and running clothing. Video gait analysis, foot scanning, and even ‘orthoses’ are among the very things you could be offered these days..
Orthoses are corrective insoles intended to help runners overcome problems with their running gait. However, many runners aren’t sure what orthoses. Check out this realbuzz guide to find out exactly how running orthoses could help you...
Running orthoses and orthotics – what are they?
- Orthoses. The term ‘orthoses’ covers a wide range of splints and supports for the body but with reference to running and gait correction, orthoses are simply custom-made corrective shoe inserts.
- Orthotics. Orthotics is the science of designing orthoses for the feet to correct postural problems, to overcome weaknesses and imbalances and to improve the function of the body.
The 'off-the-shelf' running solution
How do 'off-the-shelf' running orthoses get fitted?
The fitting process is straightforward, typically takes about one hour and runs as follows:
- Your running style is assessed, which will usually involve video gait analysis and pressure plate testing.
- Leg functional flexibility tests are conducted to build up a comprehensive picture of your particular requirements.
- Your replacement insoles are heated in an oven to make them malleable so that they can mold to the contours of your feet.
- The warm replacement insoles are placed either under your feet or into your shoes.
- When you’re either standing on a special jig or wearing your existing running shoes, your feet are then realigned into the correct position by a specialist.
- While you maintain the correct position, the insoles gradually cool and harden. Note that the insoles are still flexible, comfortable and maintain their cushioning properties when they’ve cooled.
- Once the insoles have cooled, your foot will now be prevented from any excessive pronation or supination movements, resulting in correct alignment. Initially, wearing the insoles can take a little getting used to – but you’ll find that your body, gait and running style rapidly adapts.
How can orthoses help my running?
- Reposition their feet into the correct plane so that their feet move through the gait cycle correctly.
- Ensure that their weight is more evenly distributed.
- Restore their natural foot function.
Which running conditions can orthoses help?
Orthoses can help a wide variety of foot and lower leg conditions, from problems with the sole of the foot such as bunions and blisters to more biomechanical conditions such as excessive pronation or supination (i.e. excessive movement of the foot during the gait cycle) – plus they can also help a wide variety of injuries right up to the knees, the hips and even the lower back. However, orthoses are frequently most effective when prescribed in conjunction with rehabilitation exercises such as specific stretches or exercises to correct muscle imbalances. So, if you are being fitted with corrective insoles, it is important to ensure that a comprehensive biomechanical assessment of your limbs is also carried out.
Here are two conditions that orthoses can help with:
- Achilles tendonitis. Pain and inflammation of the achilles tendon at the base of the calf can be exacerbated through excessive pronation (where the foot rolls inwards too much before toe-off). This pronation problem can be addressed via a corrective insole which stabilises the foot by preventing the excessive inward roll. However, achilles tendonitis is rarely caused by excessive pronation alone. Inflexibility is often a contributory factor too, and so stretching exercises and possibly sports therapy to help return the tendon to its correct length are essential to fully treat the problem.
- Flat feet. Flat feet are one of the most common conditions that orthoses can help. Flat feet are caused by fallen arches which results in an excessive inward rotation of the leg during movement. This unnatural rotation can lead to ankle, knee, hip, pelvis and lower-back injuries – and if you suffer from flat feet, a prescription of flexibility training will not help the condition, whereas orthoses will. A correctly prescribed pair of orthoses or replacement footbeds will support the arch and prevent the foot collapsing inwards. No physiological change is made to the body – so if you remove the orthoses from your shoes then the condition will remain, which is why it is important to always wear your orthoses when, for example, you change into different running shoes.