5 Ways Orthotics Improve Running Performance
Custom foot orthotics are devices that are custom cast to an individual’s feet and it is specifically designed to support their needs. This is determined by a Certified Pedorthist, who is a specialist in assessing the biomechanics of the lower limbs.
Running can be defined as controlled falling or fast walking but with the exception of a flight phase in gait (when both feet are off the ground for a moment in time).
In terms of running performance there are 5 ways for how custom orthotics can improve one’s performance:
- Alignment/Mechanics-toe off phase
- Propulsion and Energy Return
- Injury Prevention
- Reduce Fatigue
Alignment/Mechanics at toe-off phase
If you are misaligned at the feet and ankles, such as in those who overpronate, your feet and legs are not working properly to maximize efficiency with gait and stride. Misalignment will also affect the function of your big toe (Hallux) when it comes to toe-off phase (Propulsion phase). Basically, it will reduce the maximum propulsion you get, thus affecting the flight phase of running and getting your legs to turn over more quickly.
HOW: Custom orthotics can improve your alignment and improve hallux (big toe) function to maximize efficiency.
If your feet have proper cushioning and even pressure distribution throughout the soles of your feet they will feel much more comfortable. If you have comfortable feet you can focus your energy on running form and technique rather than on your feet getting sore or tired.
HOW: Orthotics with different areas of cushioning and proper arch supports will improve shock absorption and create even pressure in the feet.
Certain Material in custom foot orthotics is designed for quicker rebound and spring to the feet. This involves the shell type materials (polypro vs. graphite), the backing materials (dynatene, viscotene, etc.), and top cover layers (neoprene, MC puff, etc.)
HOW: The best combination design of custom orthotics will be determined by your Certified Pedorthist.
WATCH: The Custom Orthotics Process
Those who have poor foot mechanics, such as those who overpronate or underpronate, may potentially experience an injury. By adding a repetitive sport such as running into the mix with poor foot mechanics increases that chance for an injury.
HOW: Foot orthotics can help support those poor foot mechanics. You don’t need to have an injury to have a Pedorthist assess you for custom orthotics.
You don’t have to run long distances to experience fatigue. You can experience fatigue at any distance and it will usually occur in the later half or near the end of your run. Fatigue will then affect your running form which creates compensation in the muscles and joints of your feet and legs.
HOW: Custom orthotics will help maintain alignment and comfort throughout the run and in-turn help with running form and technique. This will greatly reduce the onset of fatigue and allow you to enjoy even the last few miles of you run and help give you that final push across the finish line.
There you have it: Five ways how custom orthotics can improve running performance. Get out there and enjoy your runs but not before undergoing an assessment with a Certified Pedorthist. Who knows? This might even get you a new Personal Best time for your next event.
Pedorthist, Kintec Port Moody Manager