Orthotics for Athletes
Orthotics for athletes are a great way to stay physically active without compromising the health of your feet and ankles. At our podiatry office, we regularly fit athletes for orthotics and other equipment that will make their training easier and safer. Contact us today to learn about how we can help you.
What Are Orthotics?
Orthotics are shoe inserts that are made of durable materials to help support the feet, help with realignment and aid in pressure or pain relief. They can be purchased over-the-counter at a drug store or athletic shoe store, or may be custom fit for your foot after examination of your feet by a medical professional.
Benefits of Orthotics for Athletes
Foot orthotics have mechanical properties that help ensure proper positioning of the bones in your feet, ankles, and knees. They can also decrease muscle fatigue, promoting more efficient muscle performance. Orthotics help to support the arch of your foot while cradling your heel and rotating your foot into a neutral positon; improving walking, running, and balance. When your feet are balanced and correctly supported, you are less likely to suffer from an ankle or foot injury, hip pain, back pain, and knee pain. Orthotics help athletes by decreasing foot stress and fatigue and improving shock absorption. Athletes may find that orthotics help to increase performance, strength, and endurance.
It is thought that approximately 25 percent of people have a normal running pattern, whereas their foot pronates just enough to absorb shock. The remaining running population either under-pronates or over-pronates, meaning their foot turns not enough or too much at heel-strike. Orthotics for athletes are beneficial as they can adjust the angle at which your foot strikes the ground, therefore, correcting such imbalances. The proper pronation and support of your feet helps them function at their maximum level.
Choosing Over-the-Counter vs. Custom Fit Orthotics
Some believe that over-the-counter orthotics should be your first choice as you can experiment with them to find the best match for your individual needs, they are immediately available, and are most cost-efficient.
However, while custom fit orthotics are more expensive, they are well worth the investment because they are made specifically for you and your feet. You first need to visit a medical professional to have a thorough exam of your feet, balance, and gait. Then, a plaster cast is made of your foot, which is what the lab uses to create the orthotic. You may have to wait a short period of time to get custom fit orthotics, and then you will need an additional week or two to break them in. However, custom fit orthotics for athletes are more durable as they can last for years, while over-the-counter alternatives may only last up to 12 months.
How to Know if You Would Benefit from Custom Fit Orthotics
In an effort to enhance physical performance, many athletes have relied upon custom fit orthotics to maintain the most efficient alignment of the foot. This allows the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones to work at maximum efficiency while preventing injury and relieving pain or discomfort.
Making the decision to purchase over-the-counter orthotics for athletes verses custom fit can be confusing. As every athlete has individual foot structures and complaints, a one size fits all may not be the best option. Athletes have reported increasing benefits from custom fit orthotics in the following circumstances:
- Feet have unusually high arches or feet are flat
- Complaints of shin splints or tendonitis
- Legs that are consistently aching or tired
- Presence of diabetic foot problems
- Foot, ankle, knee, hip or back pain after activity
- Pattern of wear on shoes is uneven, or shoes wear out quickly
Tips for Purchasing Custom Fit Orthotics
Should you decide that custom fit orthotics are for you, the following are a few tips that could make the fitting and purchase of them easier on you and your budget:
- Be sure to bring you athletic shoes with you to your appointment. This is so they can be inspected for any patterns of wear, which is key in determining the movement pattern of your feet to determine the best orthotic for your needs.
- Refurbishing your custom fit orthotics every two or three years is cost-effective. Your medical professional can make necessary modifications to existing orthotics prior to them breaking down so you will have new materials while keeping the original shell.
To learn more about custom orthotics for athletes and to get fitted for a pair, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.