Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is It What's IN The Shoes?

I mentioned in my previous post that my bum foot has taken a sudden turn for the better. I've now run on the treadmill four times and each time, the foot hasn't been an issue. There was some slight discomfort during a couple of post-run days, but nothing like I was experiencing before.

Yesterday, I ran an easy two miles on the machine. Today, my foot feels better than it has since I first noticed the injury back in late May. Crazy!

In June, when I was going to physical therapy, I was pretty good about keeping a 3rd party insole in my shoes (Superfeet Green). I quickly became lazy and forgot to shuffle them around from pair to pair, also thinking that I would be doing my foot a disservice by supporting it, rather than strengthening the muscles by staying as minimal as possible. While I'm not going to start trashing on the "minimalist movement", I do think I made a mistake.

While my foot continues to heal and get stronger, I feel the additional support has been a key factor in how it has felt lately. I started wearing the insoles CONSTANTLY (i.e. even in my house slippers...and I work at home, so I wear them a LOT). That doesn't mean I'm allowing my foot muscles to get lazy. I'm doing self-massage, stretching my calves and achilles, and doing toe raises (up with both feet, down with just the injured foot).

Whether or not I'll seek out advice on custom orthotics remains to be seen. It depends on how the foot reacts when I finally start: a) running outside on varying terrain, and: b) increasing my mileage. Maybe the Superfeet Green insoles are just enough support to do the trick.

I know they're pretty anti-minimal, but if this is what it takes to get me running again, I'm wearing them (while still working on my form, turnover rate, etc).

Do any of you wear either custom orthotics or OTC insoles? What are your thoughts & experiences with them?


  1. If they work than keep it up! You're going to get a lot of opinions and arguments for or against orthotics but at the end of the day you have to listen to your body and do what works for YOU! I hope you continue to see progress!

  2. I can give you those arguments for and against Orthotics.

    I've used them and I too have them in my slippers to give my feet a rest. I found I needed them early on when I first ramped up my mileage to run Ultras. They did their job and I got out of them … slowly.
    I believe going as minimalist (not barefoot or in sandals) as possible (without getting hurt) is the best way to run. That means you have to pay attention to your body. Too many runners have jumped on the minimalist/barefoot bandwagon and walk away hurt. You wouldn’t go from running 10 miles a week to 90 miles a week over night (seems obvious) would you? That’s what a lot a runners have done going from Zero miles per week in a new type of shoe or without shoes to 30 - 40 – 80 miles a week. YOU HAVE TO BUILD UP SLOWLY. Any change in running form, pace, shoes, terrain has to be done at a pace that your body can recover from.

    I think it's a waste of money to get custom $300 Orthotics made when the bake at home $45 “Sole” inserts do a much better job.

  3. I wore my Superfeet all of last year and weaned myself off of them during my marathon buildup starting this year, so I have run without them. As my foot heals and gets stronger, though, I may need the extra support during that process.
    I wasn't aware of the Sole inserts. Thanks for the tip. I might give them a shot.

  4. I don't know how well you can diagnose your foot's weight placement, but if you have a common problem you bet that an OTC solution is going to help you.

    The question is if you are that lucky to have a common problem.

    My wife uses them (prescribed) and she says it improves a whole slew of problems in her knees, hips and shoulders!

    I have Gel inserts in my shoes. Go figure.

  5. I think there is a misconception on Minimalist. Some guy came on my Blog and commented how Newtons are sooooo not minimalist. They never claim to be. In fact, they are a highly engineered shoe. The founder is a custom orthotics expert and recommends them (if needed), even for Newtons.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is find what works for you. I have not used orthotics but have only heard really good things about them. There's no better way to measure something than by results. My step mom had chronic pain and the orthotics completely stopped the pain.

  6. Minimalist is not the answer for everyone. I discourage people from being zealots about barefooting et al and try to talk about my running, not my running barefoot. I do this for my own reasons and have no desire to convert anyone. Chris McDougall is always taken out of context in the arguement for Minimalist. One of his best lines is "My approach to shoes is the same as my approach to clothes. Apply as necessary,". So if you need Superfeet Green to run, then so be it. One of my favorite post barefoot run activities is to put my Birkenstocks on! The initial support is incredible!

  7. This discussion reminds me of Dr. Irene Davis' comments on the Newton Running Forum. Dr. Davis noted that she would use orthotics for a short time to aid healing and strengthen the feet to aid additional conditioning. The long term goal is to let the feet do their own thing...

  8. John, that's exactly how I see it. Use my "crutch" (insert) until the pain is completely gone, then wean myself back off of them again.