By Mike St. Laurent
I recently tried out a new pair of orthotics. After 100,000 miles and 42 years of running I figured what the heck. Everyone’s feet and biomechanics are different so I wanted to get a professional opinion. Orthotics are sold by running stores and podiatrists. I opted for a local podiatrist who was also a runner and part of a local hospital group practice.
Orthotics are most often used for issues with pronation, but they can be for any foot issue. My issue is, I supinate and have high arches. I am also a mid foot runner. What this means is I place a lot of strain on my feet as I land on only about 50% of my foot surface and a lot of the stress and shock from landing goes up the outside of my leg. This has caused issues with tight IT bands and also my feet ache and get very tired and sore on long runs and after standing for long periods of time.
My initial visit and consultation was in April with Dr. James Dolan at Core Physicians and I could not have asked for a nicer doctor to look at my sore dogs. First, we spoke at length about my running history, the trend in running "barefoot" and my foot issues. I pointed out that I had some knowledge about feet from working with shoes and runners for the last 20 odd years. I further explained about my running style and why I was seeing him. After a full examination of my feet and ankles and legs, Dr. Dolan had me walk up and down a corridor with no shoes on. It took me a while to not feel self conscious and walk normally. Dr. Dolan noticed several issues with my feet and gait. My left foot which is larger and flairs out a little also slaps a little when I run and am tired. This foot has a slightly lower arch. He explained that I was correct in my assumption of how I land and how it adversely affects my running. Orthotics can balance out the surface area that I land on and correct that errant left foot issue. This can be done better with a custom orthotic which is molded to your foot shape. (Over the counter orthotics are one solution but they don't address the issue well for different feet problems).
Custom Orthotics; Fitting
Icon Orthotics was the brand that Dr. Dolan has had much success with. They are light and not as hard as many orthotics I have seen and the arch support is more like a bridge rather then a filled in arch keeping them lighter. Dimensions of my feet including a tracing were completed and recorded. Then, each of my feet were placed in a special density foam and held there for a minute or so. The form took an exact cast of each foot. The forms are sent to the factory where the custom orthotic is made. After two weeks Dr. Dolan’s office called me to have my orthotics fitted to my shoe. The orthotics take the place of the removable insert liner in better running shoes and they take up more room than a normal liner.
8 Weeks Later
The literature provided with the orthotics is quite comprehensive with detailed do’s and don't instructions. There is a much longer break in period then you would imagine! I followed all the steps and my right foot got used to the orthotic in about 2 weeks. I wore them every day for work but not for running. My left foot took a lot longer to get adjusted to the orthotic. After about 8 weeks it still does not feel 100% comfortable. But I think it is only that the arch is just a little bit too high. My next step is to have the left one adjusted at Dr. Dolan’s office.
Interim Results: B+
After wearing the Orthotics for some very long days on my feet, 14 hours or more, I was able to run normally the next day! My feet have felt significantly better and less tired when I do run. Even though I am not running in my orthotics yet, I plan to use them in the future for long runs. I feel that the orthotics have been a great help in keeping my feet fresh for when I do run, and especially helpful for those long days on my feet.
Thanks to Dr. Dolan & Core Physicians!
Mike St. Laurent is not only a patient of Dr. Dolan but also a member of Club LOCO a community based club that organizes fun runs and competitive road races.