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S h o e Ta l k Click here to read about 15 cushy running shoes.

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Orth otics 101 Can custom orthotics keep you injury-free? By Mat t Ha rt

However, fitting orthotics has proven to be more art than science. Visiting numerous specialists will inevitably leave you with vastly different orthotics at the end of the day, because there is no consensus on what constitutes proper biomechanical movement. The 26 bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons of the human

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foot and ankle form a complex orchestra. So is there any need to spend hundreds of dollars on custom footbeds? They have proven effective in short-term pain relief for some athletes, but they don’t protect us from injury. The current paradigm suggests that your feet and biomechanics are probably fine; it’s just that your lower leg or foot isn’t resilient enough for the terrain, training volume or intensity you are attempting. If your training level continues to leave you injured, then custom orthotics could provide some temporary relief, allowing you to continue to train. However, to relieve musculoskeletal stress from one area, orthotics move the stress somewhere else—which can cause new injuries. If your injuries occur as a result of functional weakness, you should correct them through strength training, not use of orthotics.

Long-term orthotics use should be reserved for issues caused by permanent structural abnormalities, such as leg length discrepancies. As with other musculoskeletal injuries such as a neck or back strain, provide support early, with the goal of removing the support once the tissue has healed. After the acute injury phase, make the foot more resilient through strength work and more intelligent, tempered training stress. Click here to read how to cure runner’s knee.

photo: istockphoto.com

Custom shoe inserts, called orthoses or orthotics, are built to the shape of your individual foot and are designed to correct your running biomechanics. They have been liberally prescribed by podiatrists, sports medicine doctors and physical therapists for years, as well as some running shop shoe-fitters, and promoted as a cure-all for just about any kind of running-related injury. Similar to motion-control shoes, the popular belief was these exogenous additions could correct misalignments and improper movement of the foot that presumably led to injury.

8/17/16 2:32 PM

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