If you want to perform your best in any athletic endeavor—not to mention reduce your risk of accidental injuries and preventable pain—it pays to have the right gear. A good pair of running shoes, for example, will help you make more efficient strides without unnecessarily weighing you down, while a good pair of bicycle shorts will keep you more comfortable on the saddle, improve your aerodynamics, and even improve blood flow to legs.
Those are obvious examples, but here’s another piece of critical gear you might not have thought about before: orthotics for your shoes.
True, not everyone requires orthotic inserts. But for those who struggle with foot pain, or structural or biomechanical issues with their feet, a good pair of well-chosen orthotics may be the most important sport equipment they own!
Let’s discuss some of the major benefits of orthotics for people on the go.
Reduced Risk of Pain and Injury
This is probably the most obvious benefit of orthotics for active individuals, and probably the best for most as well.
Running, sports, and other intense physical activities by their very nature put extra strain on your feet, joints, and muscles. And the risk of injury only increases with factors like playing on hard surfaces, making mistakes in your training, wearing improper gear—or sometimes just having a foot structure or gait mechanics that don’t absorb shocks as well as they should.
The right pair of orthotics can give your feet extra support, cushioning, and even stability to help cope with these stresses. That could mean fewer problems like heel pain, shin splints, stress fractures, and other overuse injuries—and even a lower risk of acute traumas like ankle sprains.
Ability to Play Longer and Train Harder
This is closely related to the point above.
For people with foot and ankle trouble, pain becomes a real limiting factor in terms of how long they can play and how hard they can train. Perhaps you’d like to try some longer runs but know you’re going to start struggling after 30 minutes. Or you’d like to play a 3-set tennis match, but your feet are already killing you by the time you’re four games into the second set.
With the right pair of orthotics, the wear and tear on your feet and joints per minute will be less, and you may be able to get a lot more out of your activities—both in terms of how long you can play and how enjoyable that time is.
To be clear, this does NOT mean that simply switching to orthotics will allow you to go out and run twice as far as you could the day before. We still recommend you only increase your activities by no more than 10-15 percent per week to give your entire body plenty of time to adjust. But what we are saying is that, with orthotics, you may find you are able to gradually push those limits further than you could without them.
Potential Performance Gains
There’s an obvious direct link between being able to train longer and harder and improving your athletic performance. But that’s not the only way a good pair of orthotics can provide a performance benefit to athletes.
Consider the importance of biomechanics in sports. Having good form allows you to make sharper, more physically economical movements. You can be more explosive or make more agile movements while expending less energy.
If your foot structure is misaligned, however, you’re automatically at a disadvantage. More energy and power gets lost compensating for biomechanical issues, rather than helping you move faster or jump higher.
But if you have a set of functional orthotics that helps to keep your feet, ankles, and lower half in better alignment—or even keep you from excessively pronating your feet—it becomes much easier to move efficiently overall. And that can mean better speed, agility, and power when you play.
Get the Best Orthotics for Your Game
For some people, the right pair of orthotics can massively transform their lifestyle and help them be more physically active than ever.
The flipside, unfortunately, is that the wrong pair of orthotics will do you little good. It might even make things worse.
So, don’t go out to the pharmacy and grab the first set of inserts you see on the rack. If pain is limiting your athletic endeavors, give us a call. We’ll make a thorough evaluation of your foot and ankle biomechanics, diagnose any conditions that may be causing pain, and help you determine not only whether you could benefit from orthotics, but what type of orthotics would be most appropriate.
To schedule with our office in Freeland, Michigan, give us a call at (989) 695-6788. You can also request an appointment online.