Run Performance Orthotics: An Athlete’s Story
Kintec recently posted a write up on how orthotics can improve running performance. After reading it I thought it would be a great opportunity to share my experience running in Kintec’s performance running orthotics this year.
I was originally approached by Graham Archer, VP of Pedorthics at Kintec, to see if I would be interested in getting some orthotics for my running and cycling shoes. I’ll be honest; I was pretty apprehensive at first. I have never run with orthotics, I have been lucky to have stayed relatively injury free in training and the thought of putting something new into my shoe made me think there could be potential for problems to arise. I have used superfeet in my cycling shoes though and have experienced the benefit and gains that can come from having your feet properly supported so I decided to go ahead with it.
The fitting process was very in depth. Kintec uses software to build personal profiles to ensure you get the best fitting orthotic possible. Some of the process involved talking about what I do activity wise and day to day, injury history, foot examination, stability tests, I was filmed walking and running on the treadmill and at the end they took a cast of my feet. I remember being really impressed with the whole process and the idea of the orthotics made a lot of sense.
After a few weeks my orthotics were ready and it was time to test them out. Not so fast! As I mentioned before, I was still a bit apprehensive and I wanted to be patient with the process as I was about to go into race season and the last thing I wanted was an avoidable injury. I began wearing them at the office every day in my running shoes. Initial thoughts were the orthotics were extremely comfortable, they felt like they molded to my feet which isn’t a surprise as they use your foot casts to create the orthotic. Even though I was only walking around the office my calves and feet took about two weeks to get use to the feeling of the orthotic which is why they recommend implementing them into your running gradually.
In this time I took the opportunity to go visit my physiotherapist who is the current team physiotherapist for the BC Endurance Project, a group of Canada’s top elite distance runners. I wanted to get his opinion on implementing the orthotics into my running shoes. We did a test to see how my feet responded to the orthotics. First, he filmed me running on the treadmill in my shoes without the orthotics. Next I did the same thing on the treadmill with my orthotics in the shoes. I have always had an issue with over pronation, this is when the outside of your foot lands first and quickly rolls inward; certainly not the most efficient way to run. Very interestingly, when running in the orthotics, the footage showed a very significant decrease in my over pronation. Based on this he thought it was a good idea to begin running in them.
I have since implemented them into my running and now use them every day for both training and racing. I love how supported my feet feel in them and I really take notice of this when I try running in my shoes without them. I use the performance orthotic so I don’t notice the weight increase, as they are extremely light.
In Kintec’s post they highlighted 5 ways on how custom orthotics can improve one’s performance. I’ve listed them below with my take on each:
- Alignment/Mechanics-toe off phase – I saw this benefit through the decrease in over pronation. By having a decrease in over pronation it makes for a more efficient and powerful toe off.
- Comfort – They’re extremely comfortable! I can’t run without them now.
- Propulsion and Energy Return – I agree with this as I mentioned above under Alignment/Mechanics-toe off phase.
- Injury Prevention – I’ve had issues with shin splints in the past. Generally this occurs when I begin running after a week or two off. I believe my over pronation strongly contributes to this so I am interested to see if I develop shin splints again now that my orthotics have decreased my over pronation. So far, since running in them I haven’t experienced shin splints and I have had periods of down time from running.
- Reduce Fatigue – The reduction in fatigue I have experienced is no foot cramping and quicker recovery for my calves. I don’t find myself reaching for my compression socks as frequently as I used to after long runs.
To close this out, the highlight of using my Kintec performance running orthotics is how they have had a positive impact not only on my running mechanics, but my enjoyment of running. Let’s face it, running sometimes hurts! Our bodies absorb an incredible amount of impact force when running. Using a properly customized orthotic can help ensure your body is absorbing that impact as efficiently as possible which will lead to less injuries, better enjoyment and hopefully faster running!