Katrina shares her experience with podiatrist Lance Penn
OK, so l'm a physio and should practice what I preach. Hmmm.....well.
I've got to be honest and have always been resistant to wearing orthotics, however with an increasing enjoyment for pounding the pavement, I am starting to notice that I perhaps don't spring about with young joints anymore. A little niggle here in this toe, a little niggle there in that hip, a calf injury that has sidelined me from running for a week here and a fortnight there. Perhaps it was time to explore what orthotics can do for me, seeing as though I kind of felt that all of these injuries were related to my feet. Not to forget that mechanics of the feet will also effect further up the chain, such as the knee, hip and lower back.
I've never felt that I could put up with a hard rigid orthotic propping my arch inside my shoes, so was happy to hear that orthoses are now moving towards a softer, more giving material. The new treatment paradigm for podiatry is to not look at only the degree of high or flat arches ( poor pronation or over pronation), but to diagnose where structures in the foot are overloaded and therefore sore, and redistribute the forces more widely or evenly across the foot. Makes sense and boy, I really liked this thinking. After all, this is what I do every day when diagnosing and managing back, neck and hip pains in my clientele.
I was assessed via video, treadmill and force plates to obtain an accurate picture of what was going on at each foot. OK, so my right foot rolls in a little too much at the arch, but the bigger problem was that I failed to use my forefoot (the front of my foot) and big toe properly. It's really quiet amazing to see what happens at your foot during its time in contact with the ground (and in slow motion too). Digital measurements available today with the technology about mean perfect prescription of your orthotic moulds and the finished product.
So, my orthotic does not hold me rigidly to prevent me from rolling in on the arch. After all, pronation, or rolling inward at the arch of the ankle is a normal and necessary movement of the foot to absorb loads before pushing off. My orthotics in fact encourage the pronation and have more of a support dome in the front foot.
And how am I doing wearing the orthotics? Well I still have to slowly build my tolerance to wearing them for my running. They feel very different in my shoe compared to the manufacturer's inner sole, but to be honest, after wearing them for an hour or so, I don't even notice it. I have to continually remind myself that this foot position is something unfamiliar to me and my foot, so to give it time. I am struggling to wear them for all my running, especially my longer runs due to blistering under my arch. I can wear them for short distances and to wear them all day such as on the weekend is not trouble at all.
As a part of the orthotic prescription process, I am due to revisit Lance the podiatrist again now to chat about the fit and the difficulties in wearing them for my longer runs. I will follow up on these coming weeks.
But, to say I am a convert is not exaggerated. The new treatment approach to disperse forces rather than rigidly fix a foot is very agreeable to the body and it's mechanics. And I am certainly noticing the difference to my body's little niggles.