Are Orthotics really THAT brilliant?

I am a severe overpronator and, despite having "proper" running shoes (that were "prescribed" by a specialist running shop) to help with this, I am still plagued by shin splints, sore calves, ankles and achilles!

I bought the Green version of Superfeet insoles but they haven't really helped - which I suspect may be something to do with the fact that they are in my overpronator shoes = too much support = sore!!

I have been to see a Podiatrist who advised that orthotics were necessary.  Apparently motion control shoes only provide 4% support, but I need at least 8%.  To do this will require me to buy  another new pair of running trainers AND pay for the orthotics, which in the current climate is a bit steep!!

I would like to hear from other runners who have had similar experiences and have either seen improvements from the orthotics or who have not (and have tried other alternatives).

I look forward to hearing from my learned running pals! Thanks in advance!





  • hi Hayley - I too am biomechanically challenged  image  I'm getting my custom orthotics soon so I'll be able to tell you in a few weeks!

    I've just found this thread

    theres lots of good stuff on here from other folks with similiar problems and advice from people that know what they are talking about.  Seems that you can fix a lot of problems by changing your running style.  Might be worth a read.  Good luck! 

  • Hi Hayley it would be worth getting looked at by a chiro or physio to check your alignment. I was prescribed orthotics but still had probs after seeing a chiro he tells me I have one leg shorter than the other - not literally its my pelvis which is wonky - am having a course of treatment and hope to be niggle free soon!
  • Hia Missy,

     I have been seeing a chiro for the last 4 months and she has helped tremendously with my tight muscles.  I was a bit "wonky" to start with, due to tight hamstrings, but I am nicely aligned now.  I continue to see her every month for maintenance massage which is really helpful (although bloody painful, as my calfs and achilles are normally wound up tight and solid as a rock!).

    The orthotist measured my legs and was surprised to see that mine were absolutely EQUAL!!  She says that she has never seen such a symmetrical pair of legs before and that a "normal" person (ha! ha!) has a difference between the two of anything between a millimetre to an inch.  But no, not me!

    I really like Sophers reply, but I have no idea how to go about changing my running style.  Aberdeen is not exactly abundant with running coaches, but I am looking for one.  I read up on Chi Running and tried it - based only on the book instructions - but couldn't get to grips with it.  There is a place down south that offers Chi Running workshops and training sessions, so this could be an option.

    I am keen to get myself sorted.  My body is protesting at the running, but I am determined to make it work for me!!

    Thanks for your helpful advice - both Missy D and Sophers - I really appreciate it!!

  • I would not be able to run at all without orthotics, so in answer to your questions - yes.

    You need to make sure you get the right ones though. 

  • Thanks Screamapillar!!
  • Hi Hayley - I'm in Aberdeen too.  Yup, bit of a lack of Pose/Chi coaches up here!  I've found a workshop in Leeds that I might go to if these orthotics don't work for me.
  • Hi Hayley and welcome to the forum.  You are likely to get very different responses from people to this question based on their individual experience, which can of course be either good, bad or indifferent.  The right orthotics can make the world of difference, yet getting the right orthotics sadly can be a real problem.  I overpronate severely and my feet also have quite different needs (one arch collapses more than the other, one ankle is more hypermobile than the other, one has only rear foot ‘issues’, the other has forefoot issues as well blablabla – That’s only my feet, I won’t bore you with the details of my knees & hips…).  Now you would think that seeing a professional who sorts it all out for you is all that needs doing, but in my experience it’s all a bit more convoluted that than.  I’ve tried many different running shoes across the stability/motion control ranges.  I’ve tried off-the-shelf orthotics as well as super-expensive personalised CAD/CAM inserts.  I’ve seen a total of two podiatrists, two physios, a sports massage therapist and one osteopath – but guess what they all say the problem is something else, and after all this time they still can’t agree on something as simple as (you’d think!) whether I have a bloody leg length difference or not!!!  LOL image  I think overall my best experience (in terms of being ‘mostly’ injury free) comes from my custom made CAD/CAM orthotics used in conjunction with regular sports massage. 

    I have also looked into POSE this year, but to be honest I probably did what a lot of people do and I was too impatient with it.  I think if you want to change to POSE properly you must really do all the leg strengthening exercises etc properly and for as long as they suggest, and start with very very short runs which you patiently build up.  I think I rushed the process and it didn’t do me any favours.  Anyway I hope you can sort it all out without having to re-mortgage.  image
  • hayley,

    nam has sumed it up pretty nicely, everyone is different and every orthotic is different too

    the superfeet green product you have tried (i assume it is the bright green one) is great for people with minor pronation problems and has helped thousands of runners all ove the is obviously not the product for you....i am la little confused by the info you gave about the pod saying motion control shoes giving 4% of the support and you needing 8% are you talking about degrees or %%%... true motion control shoes are pretty brutal and i am intrigued to understand what you mean

    the major problem is finding someone who understands how a shoe functions and how it interacts with an orthotic and then how your body interacts with the two.... when your foot pronates as you run it will continue to pronate until it finds either its end of range of available motion or the bottom of the shoe (which is flat).... the trick is to control this timing correctly only when the foot has fully contacted the bottom fot he shoe will the posting in the shoe take is there to stop the shoe from continuing to collapse inwards..... the correct orthotic for you is the one which can help to maintain the best function of your foot without contorting it....

    going back to the superfeet green, is your foot very flat, and is it this i mean when there is no weight on your foot or if you raise your toes is there an arch, if there very little arch then the green product may not be the best thing...the blue or black product may work better, or one of their custom range...remember they all have a 60 day money back guarantee so you will not lose anyhting more than time. 

    another thing to consider is whatother muscles are involved, often times calf problems stem form a weakness in the gluteal region, weak glutes can cause a shock loading through the leg which tightens the calf and exaggeratses all the problems...excessive pronation normally results in an external rotation of the foot this in itself can be due to tension in the which came first the chicken (pronation) or the egg (muscle tightness).... my money is on pronation which is there from birth is a good thing and only when we add in all the muscle tension from life in general do we start to cause problems...weakness in muscle of the gluteus and the upper leg can allow the knee to rotate inwards which wil increase the visible pronation and can cause more calf problems

    good luck finding the right person, speak to the runners at your local club they are normally the first place to get the info on who is good and who is not in your area

  • Footman, you rock!  Very helpful info!

    Based on research (I'm a "knowledge is power" kindagal!) I started a programme of strength training at the gym to supplement the running and also help build my quads, hamstrings and calves.  At the end of the training sessions (and indeed after running) I focus on a good stretching session as my hammies and calves are wound tight!!  I am starting to see some benefits to this and believe that it will continue to work out in my favour.

    Re; orthotics, I think you are right that the 4 and 8 should have said degrees and not percent.  Not being a subject matter expert, I got confused!!

    There is a new Nike trainer coming on the market in July called the LunarGlide+ which claims to be a "responsive" shoe, as opposed to a static motion control or support shoe.  My friends brother works for Nike in Amsterdam, so I have persuaded him to send me a pair - I am pretty excited about getting them!!

    Sophers - Great to hear from another runner in Aberdeen!  I saw that Chi Running place in Leeds too and would really like to go!  Are you a member of any running club up here?  I went along to the Metro and whilst the organiser, Jackie, was lovely, the club runners were not especially welcoming and I just felt out of my depth, so I didn't go back.  I've just been plodding along by myself.  I do believe that my form could do with some tweeking, so am going to try to track down a running coach - would you be interested in sharing a couple of sessions?

     As always, I am so impressed and delighted by the helpful community here - thanks so much for taking the time to respond - I really appreciate it!!

  • Nam - your info was super helpful too - sorry I didn't say that above!!
  • Hayely,

    running clubs can be a bit like that..our local club scared off loads of new runners a few years ago, then they completely changed and i have clients coming in that we have recomended to the club saying how good they were, how helpful and friendly the whole atmosphere was...sometimes it just takes someone to say something and things get fed back to them

    may be worth having a word with the friendly organiserimage

  • Hayley,

    Orthotics on their own are rarely the answer. I have found that orthotics PLUS remedial exercise and religious stretching plus the right shoes have got me back to running reasonable distances without pain. Just not fast again.  There is a lot of trial and error.

    I have one foot that has an 8dgree correction applied and one foot with 6degrees, but still have stability shoes. If my hip flexor gets too tight I am in trouble in a week and I have to work my quads like anything with lots of reps of squats and split squats with weights to ensure that they counter my strong hamstrings.

    It has taken 4 years to get to this stage of being able to do 15-18 mile runs again with no major repercussions afterwards.

     Hope it is quicker for you.

  • David Bennett 2 wrote (see)


    Orthotics on their own are rarely the answer. I have found that orthotics PLUS remedial exercise and religious stretching plus the right shoes have got me back to running reasonable distances without pain. Just not fast again.  There is a lot of trial and error.

    how so very true, i just wish all my clients took that attitude, it is a self help process, and without the additional work it would be a very long road

    well done on perceivering

  • Wow David, I am seriously impressed with your perseverence and commitment to keeping up with the running!  I am fairly new to running - only started properly in Dec/Jan - and so I suppose that it is only to be expected that my body would "protest" at all this exercise!  Lets face it, it took me 37 years to get it into this state, I guess I can't expect it just to bounce up to fitness attention straight away - oh, if only!!

     I made a call today to the podiatrist to order the orthotics and will go and get neutral trainers to compliment them.  I'll also support myself with the continued strength training to build up my muscles.  After running two 10ks recently, I have decided just to go back to basics and have cut my mileage to allow my body to get used to this new regime.  I would love to do a marathon before I am 40, so I am going to make sure that I train properly and don't knacker myself out!

     Footman - just so you know - I would travel from Aberdeen to where-ever you are to get my feet sorted - you are ace!!


  • Footman, you refered to the Superfeet insoles earier, so I've looking at them with a view to trying some.

    I don't have what you'd call a real problem, just niggles such as one heel that gets a bit sore, and the bottom joint of my big toe.  Nothing that stops me running, but uncomfortable sometimes.

    Do you think the Superfeet green insoles would be likely to help? 

    I know you can get your money back, so I'm inclined to give them a try, but thought I'd pick your brain first image

  • Wilkie,

    without seeing your foot it is difficult to say as to if the green is the correct product...sizing of them is all important so make sure you get that correct, if you have heel pain then the green is the most cushioned next level down is the blue whioch is a little less so and has a slightly less obtrusuve arch (if you have a lower arch/flatter foot then the blue is a bit  more forgiving)

    where are you based, i may be able to suggest the closest well trained dealer to you


    i am a scot but all the way down here in sunny Bicester...did i say sunny..well it is between the showersimageimage

  • Footman, I live in south Essex, but I work in London, so either would be accessible.

    I think my arch is quite 'normal' - it is certainly not flat, and not VERY high.  I found that wearing Birkenstock sandals helps with the heel pain, too.

    I over-pronate very slightly, according to the chap in the running shop.  He put me in asics 1130 (as was, 1140 now but I haven't moved on yet).


  • Wilkie, if you put your post code into the search function on it should throw up some dealers close to you, Snow&Rock, itchy feet or london city runner have been mentioned to me by the distributor but not sure who is closest to you

    the green sounds fine for your arch height as you can wear birkenstocks should feel very similar, the cushioning in the heel is best in that product

  • Hi Hayley - thats a shame about the running club.  I'm not a member of a club yet though I've been looking at the Stonehaven one as I'm down that way.  Still plucking up the courage to join!  

    Sharing running coach sessions would be great, I'll have a look too.  Though it will be a wee while before I'm back running I think - need to get used to my orthotics and build up the mileage.

    footman is a star - maybe we could club together to pay for him to come up to the 'Deen!  image

  • Footman - aye the Scots are the business!!  As for sunny  - its been rainy nearly all day here!!

    Sophers - my friend lives in Stoney and she has just joined the Running club there - not JogScotland.  She is a member of a Mums on the Run group and they have now joined up with the Stoney Running Club.  She says that they are really friendly.  If it weren't miles away, I would go there too!!  If you do think of joining, let me know and I'll hook you up with my pal - she is ace!!

    I'm with you re; the orthotics and building up the mileage, so lets keep in touch!

    Damn & blast tho - after a Circuits class yesterday, I have got Plantar Fascia pain which has got progressively more uncomfy as the day has worn on.  Bugger!!  I'll ice it tonight and see how I go.  Just as well I called the podiatrist, I think!!

  • Thanks, Footman - some of the London ones are quite near to work, I'll go and have a word.

  • that would be great Hayley - a friendly face would help the nerves a lot - thanks!    we should defo keep in touch.

    Sorry to hear about the plantar fasciitis flaring up image

  • I know!  I was looking forward to a wee run tonight! 

    Chat soon!

  • Hayely

    with your PF, lots of calf stretches straight and bent leg 30 second hold 3xeach leg 3x daily, ice..frozen drinks bottle rolled under the foot for 10-15 min, support, orthotics of some type as soon as your foot hits the ground..that means in shoes next tho the bed and on as soon as you get up for any reason....walk around in shoes with orthotics for 15-20 mins if possible in the morning before shoes off for in the shower, thus allowing the muscles to warm up a bit before you over stretch then with those first few steps...avoid dodgy shoes, flip flops etc etc, if you must wear something like this  then birkenstock is the way to go

    good luck...the above has worked for several hundred clients, i hope it works for you too, but it is a combination of everythign that will get rid of PF...stretching is important, not that my only notable failure would agree

  • Thanks a million Footman - you the man!!! image
  • Footman, Sophers, Wilkie, etc

    How are ya?  I just wanted to give you a wee update, as things have picked up and I have my running mojo back (yay!).

    You will remember that after struggling with sore shins & calves for weeks I was considering orthotics.  And then I ended up with Plantar Fasciitis, which essentially made up my mind that I had to work at my running style and also get the orthotics.

    Having rested for just over a week and applying massaging techniques, alternating heat/ice packs and Voltarol gel, my PF has settled down nicely.  I laid off ALL exercise and just endeavoured to chill out and ignore that "twitchy" feeling that I should be out chasing pavements (ah, is THAT what the Duffy song was all about??!!).

    I called the Podiatrist and this week I received my brand spanking new orthotic insoles (Vasyli/Danenburgs) and they are ace!  I am still "breaking them in" so increasing the amount of time that I wear them in my day-to-day shoes - will have to wait til I am fulltime in them before putting them in my running shoes.  They are very comfy and feel great, but it is too early to tell what impact they will have on my running.

    Anyway, back to the running.....  I went out yesterday for the first time in weeks and it was FAB!  It was only a wee run (<2m) but I got no hassle from calves, shins or PF, so I was chuffed to bits.  Went out again this morning - my husband and I took turns running around the park whilst the kids played on the swings! - and again it was really comfortable and I felt good!  I can't tell you how great it felt - well, you probably know what I am talking about anyway!!

    I have been reading about Chi Running and during these last two runs, I have been paying attention to my form, posture and making sure that I am relaxing my lower legs, as I know that I have a tendency to tense up and I think that this has been the major contributory factor to my shin/calf probs.

    I emailed two Chi Running coaches - one in London and one in Leeds - and got some great advice from them.  If I can afford it later this year I am going to go down to one of their workshops.

    I am going to carry on with small, easy runs whilst I am breaking in the orthotics and once I have got these sussed, I will start to increase my mileage.  Nice and slow tho, as I really DO NOT want to be out of action again - that sucked!!

    I will keep you posted re; the orthotics and my progress. 

    I want to say Thanks to you Guys - you were very helpful and supportive and it was much appreciated!  Cheers Chums!

    Enjoy what is left of the weekend and I hope that this finds you all Dandy Smashin!!

    Hailz x

  • Hayley

     Just picked up your thread and it is very relevant to where I am as well. I have had 3 knee ops over past 2 yrs and finished with an ACL recon last April. I worked my way back and finished first 1/2 M 5 wks ago. Overall ok but like you calves wound like a spring and start of shin splints and PF.

    Seeing my physio of some 4 yrs she said to avoid thinking I an do a full M and instead get orthotics and concentrate on cross training so I am now going to give tri's a go. On the orthotics front I saw a really good podiatrist who measured everything to do with my feet, walking, etc etc. It then took 2 wks to get hold of the custom orthotics which arrived Friday.

    I have had to move to Brooks Glycerin instead of my Adrenaline's so I can use the orthotics and not have too much support. A part of the process though is to wear the orthotics gradually with 1 hr day 1, 2 hrs day 2 etc. I have worked out that it is going to be about 2 weeks before I can think of doing even a small training session in these. Having read your latest update I am a litle bit concerned about whether or not you are going to go too far too soon ?

    Like footman the advice I have been given is to ensure I stretch, strengthen, cross train and use the orthotics properly. I will keep an eye on here and see how you are getting on and feedback about how I go over the next few weeks.

    Btw I am in Stirling as is the podiatrist I used.


  • Hia Tony,

     Great to hear from you and thanks for responding to my post!

     Firstly - nice one re; your half marathon!  I am not at that stage yet - I'm just comfortably managing 10k's but would hope to be at the HM stage by the end of the year - fingers crossed!  How was it for you?  Which one did you do?  I would love to do a tri, but I truly suck at swimming!!

    Don't worry - I'm taking it very easy just now and will not be rushing back into proper training any time soon.  I am on Day 3 in my orthotics and so wore them for 3 hrs today.  I was told by my podiatrist that I have to be in them full-time before I start wearing them for training/running and even then, I'll have to build up time.  The two teeny runs that I did today and yesterday were done in my ASICs without orthotics and it was fine.  I wore my 1000 mile knee-high compression socks yesterday and these helped considerably in supporting my calves.  Up til now, I had only used them AFTER racing, but they were good during the run, so think that I may invest in a couple more pairs.

    The biggest plus point this weekend was taking time to concentrate on my posture, form and leg work - based on the Chi Running principles - and the penny seemed to drop a bit today, which was magic.

     It is my plan to stick with small easy runs for the next month (<3m) - to allow me to get back into running comfortably and also get used to the orthotics (and the new trainers that I have to get).  My next 10k is not til October, so I have a pretty decent window to get my running mojo back on track properly!!

    Thanks again Tony - it was great to "meet" you!



  • I have used orthotics since 1982.

    The orthotics do not g'tee a fast time or instant cure to biomechanical problems. Slow and steady recovery is the way forward and you appear to be doing this.

    Orthotics do help keep you injury free and this has led to my tackling everything upto Marathons. Through consistency I have made UK Power of 10 times for every distance from 3k up - perhaps an advert for orthotics and their effectiveness.
  • Hi Hayley  image

    Thats great news!  imageimageimage  I have been meaning to post on here for a while to see how you've been getting on, its great to hear you sound so positive and that you are back running.  I wonder if we have the same podiatrist!?    I'm picking up my custom orthotics at lunchtime, yippee!  I thought I was only to wear them in my running shoes - hmm you've got me wondering now if I'll have to wear them all the time.  Will soon find out.

    Hi Tony - cross training is the way forward to me as well, and I've been thinking about tri's too.  Though I'll have to get swimming lessons first!  I've resigned myself to a lower running mileage than I had before my problems started.

    Hi Windmiller - thats great news and gives us orthotics newbies hope.  image

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