By Seth Wold:
The blessings of being young.
After running throughout my high school and college years without orthotic support I was pretty confident that my musculoskeletal system was in great alignment. I had been fortunate enough to have very few injuries and my feet felt OK at the end of my workouts. Then I began working at the Salt Lake Running Company. I was trained by my fellow staff members on a variety of topics, including trim to fit orthotics, aka-inserts. I tried each one on, but I didn’t feel like I needed any of them to help my run, after all I had just won the first marathon I competed in.
The years catch up
After working at the running company, I was amazed how many of the customers absolutely loved their inserts and attributed their great health to the orthotics. I thought, “well I know the orthotics work for everyone who pronates, but I am a neutral runner. ” Then my battle with IT Band syndrome heated up again. I was icing it, massaging it, stretching it (only after my muscles were warm) and strengthening it just as I had in high school and college. For a decade I thought that having an inflamed IT Band is just part of being a distance runner and that every once in a while it is bound to flare up and hurt horribly. But this time the IT Band just wasn’t healing quickly enough. I would have to stop and massage the IT Band on any run over 6 miles long and when I returned home I could hardly bend my knee without a pain shooting up my leg.
Simple Relief in “over the counter” orthotic inserts!
I got desperate. I tried a trim to fit Green Superfeet orthotic insert in my running shoes and a Powerstep Pinnacle orthotic insert in my work shoes. The Full Volume arch on the Powerstep felt best for my foot while walking/standing, while the Green Superfeet’s wide heel cup fit great on my foot while running. I decided to take the insert out on a 16 mile run, the longest run I had run in months of training. I didn’t hurt! I thought, “Well maybe I was just on top of it today, but after the run it is bound to kill.” To my surprise, my knee post-run felt better than it did before the run. I continued with the icing, massage, and stretching routine, and my knee began to heal more quickly than it ever had in college. I learned that runners shouldn’t have terrible pain while running, huh imagine that. Suddenly I realized how much trim to fit orthotics/inserts benefit every runner, whether they pronate, supinate, or run with a neutral gate.
The economic no-brainer
Why “over the counter” trim to fit orthotics? The price of custom orthotics can range from $200-$1000+ while the trim to fit orthotic inserts range from $20-$45. Custom orthotics are great, but they wear out just like the trim to fit orthotics. Also the trim to fit orthotics carried at the Salt Lake Running Company are made with polypropylene semi-flexible plastic that gives proper support to the heel and ankle while allowing the foot and ankle to naturally absorb the shock caused by running.
Why doesn’t every shoe have these kinds of orthotic inserts?
Why don’t my awesome running shoes already have an orthotic built in? The insole of the shoe, where the orthotic is placed, is a sock liner (Low density EVA cushion which is there to cover the seams and give a plush initial feel to the shoe during the try on process). If Saucony was to incorporate an orthotic insert into the midsole of the Progrid Ride, then only neutral people who like the Saucony Progrid Ride already and whose feet were shaped like the orthotic would like the shoe. Then Saucony would have to produce ten different versions of the Saucony Progrid Ride to fit their customer’s needs. This would be way too many shoes for us to carry, so they instead make great running shoes with removable sockliners so that each customer can choose the most comfortable, best fitting orthotics to place in their great running shoes.
Cushioned orthotic inserts
Are there any cushioned orthotics? Yes, the Montrail Enduro-Sole and Powerstep Pinnacle orthotics are both covered with a softer material which helps them feel softer underfoot. Althouth Superfeet, Downunders, and Powerstep Original feel more firm initially, they also offer great cushioning with high density EVA or similar materials. The best cushioning for running is actually built into each of our heels. The heel when properly fitted into an orthotic will be cupped causing the fat to remain under the heel bone during your runs. This offers the best cushioning and any of the trim to fit Orthotics at the Salt Lake Running Company will have this fit when properly matched up to each person.
Experiment of one
If you are, like I was, a skeptic on the benefits of “over the counter” orthotic inserts, I encourage you to give them a try for 30 days. You will then be able to say for yourself how the orthotics felt to you. If they work for you, then that will mean many years of far less injuries and happy running. So make sure to give them an initial try next time you’re in for some new shoes. And don’t forget to enjoy Running.
AMEN SETH!!! I know lots of people who swear by the orthotic inserts, including me. Similar story. I ran for about 12 years with lower leg pain and constant low grade shin splints(that were sometimes not so low grade) before trying a pair of these. All my lower leg pain and shin splints went away quickly and has NEVER returned for the last 12-13 YEARS. Three cheers for orthotic inserts!