Views on orthotics

Hi - yes, deadly dull I know but I'd be grateful to hear people's views on orthotics if poss (mainly of the "do they help" variety). I got a knee injury about 10 months ago which knocked my running out for several weeks, probably an impact injury from overtraining for a half marathon (a bad case of enthusiasticus beginneritus) as the response from my GP was "some people can run, some people can't - if it happens again, you can't!" and my sports physio couldn't find any damage apart from the usual creaky knee stuff, however during treatment took to peering closely at my shoes & suggested giving orthotics a go, despite not finding any real evidence of pronation etc or that my running style was particularly wacky. It seems quite an expensive way of giving something a go, so I just wondered if anybody else found it helpful? I'm doing the usual stuff like sorbothame insoles, fish oils, glucosamine, leg-muscle-strengthening exercises & cross-training such as swimming/cycling/hill-climbing etc and am being super-sensible in increasing my speed/distance & endurance running training, however would dearly love to conquer half & full marathons & reply to an invitation to join the local Harriers without feeling I'd be asking too much of my knee. Knee is holding up fine at mo' on 10k's bar the occasional warning twinge or stiffening in last 1/2 mile if I start to get carried away (triggers immediate stop & rest up for a day or two). Have orthotics transformed anybody's life please or do the army of gammy-knee-ites have any handy tips? Thanks!


  • Hi! orthotics may work wonders, or then do nothing. It depends on the complaint and weather an orthotic is indicated to treat the complaint, and a whole host of other things. There are lots of knee probs that have v.simmilar symptoms but different treatments and prognosis. Get a biomechanical from a pod if the physio cant find a non mechanical cause etc. otherwise its all guess work.
    regards steve.
  • Orthotics "accommodate" a problem - they do NOT "fix" the problem, but in fact make it worse.

    Had mine for 12-13 years - getting rid of them was the best thing I ever did. But it takes a LOT of patience to allow the body to strengthen up its weaknesses - orthotics "cover" those weaknesses while they get weaker still...
  • Thanks guys - helpful responses. I'll follow both those lines (onwards & upwards .... patiently!)

  • hey pantman, i'm not so sure about your input here. Having lived with a podiatrist for a long long time, i have seem amazing transformations from sportspeople to the eldery by the use of simple orthotics. If you naturally overpronate or supinate you can't 'get over' it. I agree to some extent that if you have an injury and didn't have a problem before then time and rest will help heal. But if your basic physiology puts stress on your body when running in ways that will over time cause major problems it's not a good idea to try and get your body to 'work thtough' it, cos it won't be able to and your running career will come to an end...potentially painfully. In any case to see a podiatrist shouldn't cost more than 30 quid depending on where you are (if they do then they probably should be avoided anyway!!!!) and peace of mind that you're doing the right thing for your joints!
  • I'm sorry but I just can't agree. Weaknesses in our feet, causing pain and imbalance elsewhere, are normally correctable - it just takes lots of time and THAT is why orthotics can be the easier option.
    Because they then do the job the foot is not doing the foot gets weaker and weaker. So in a sense, they make the problem worse.
    A lot of this comes down to a warped approach to shoes too. The more expensive your running shoes the more likely you are to be injured.
    It is just another symptom of a quick fix society...

    Answering specifics:
    You CAN get over pronation and supination. Strengthening the foot and lower leg can reduce pronation considerably. Also running with minimal contact with the ground and without the extended heel to toe progression, which is ONLY possible due to cushioning in shoes, will also remove this issue and make shoes last much much longer.
    You WILL see amazing transformations - the problem as been accommodated, the pain has gone. The does not mean the problem has been fixed. A pragmatic approach is not always the best one long term.
    A pod visit may cost £30, but the orthotics certainly will not!
  • mmmm I've got orthotics a few months back and I've noticed a big improvement in just walking. I had terrible shin-splints whilst training for a marathon although by the time of the event I'd gotten over them but only by drastically reducing my training to one long run a week. Although I've not been putting in the distances that I did earlier on in the year I've been able to up the frequency of my running (about 3 X per week) without any symptoms.

    As an aside I was told by an orthopedic surgeon the same nonsense about not being a natural runner and that I shouldn't run as much etc. Utter rubbish!

    Pantman is correct is many ways that the more you run, the stronger you'll get. What is important is that you don't over do it and listen to your body.

    Best of luck

  • Thanks again everybody - I think a contributory factor to the injury was unbalanced training & insufficient preparation when I stepped the training up for a 1/2M so I'm leaning towards continuing to build a good preventative strength base. My main doubt on orthotics has been the risk of masking a weakness rather than being aware of it & adopting an appropriate training regime so I think for me the jury's still out at mo', however will keep an open mind. Tvm!
  • My hubby had knee problems, especially his left knee which was injured years ago playing squash. He's done knee exercises and does a lot of cycling which did help. When he started running (it was the only way to see me!) he had knee problems again. A gait analyst suggested seeing a podiatrist for orthotics. He was diagnosed with flat feet - he knew they were flat but didn't think they had caused any problems> However, having paid £120 for orthotics, he's had no problems with his knees since. he also stands taller as his feet aren't leaning inwards all the time. He has two pairs - one for his work shoes and one for his running shoes. They need sending off each year at a cost of £20 per pair for upgrading the wear and tear he puts on them. We think it's money well spent.
  • However dull the subject there are always plenty of (valid) opinions. Pantman is probably right that pronation/supination can/should be sorted out with exercises, but orthotics are just a much easier, once-off solution.
    I picked up an ITBS-related hip ache and the beginnings of shin-splints from doing too much too soon I think, and went to podiatrist, thinking I would treat the cause, not the symptom. He did the whole gait analysis thing, declared that I pronate and recommended orthotics. The way he put it was that if you're long/short sighted you get glasses and don't think twice, and the same applies to feet and orthotics.
    Anyway I got the orthotics, a good sports massage sorted out my hip, and touch wood I have had no problems since and just run my first marathon. I'm happy with them.
  • Thanks both of you - think I'd be ecstatic, Capricorn, if I'd just run yr time - many congrats!!!
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