Orthopedic ONE Training Tip #6

Do I Need Orthotics? 

 As an Orthopedic Surgeon with fellowship training in the management of foot and ankle injuries, I am frequently asked if orthotics are required for those running half and full marathons. This is a complex question that is best handled individually, as everyone’s foot and ankle biomechanics are unique as are the demands they put on their feet while running. 

The best place to start is with a good running shoe that matches your foot’s natural mechanics.  Some of us are pronators (flat feet), supinators (high arches) while other are neutral (normal arch).  To make the categorizing even more complex, some runners have a static neutral or high arch, but when they run they present like pronators.  I will touch on this “dynamic assessment” of foot and ankle mechanics later, but it is vital that you have the right shoe for your body when you start your training program.  Running stores like Columbus Running Company train their staff to look at your feet and overall running mechanics to help you find the right shoe.  

At Orthopedic ONE, we typically see runners when there is a problem and this is where I typically start the discussion about orthotics. Custom Foot Orthotics are used to help treat and prevent injuries.  If you are in the correct shoe for your body and you are having pain, a custom orthotic is most likely indicated along with other interventions including a referral to physical therapy to address the underlying issues that are causing your symptoms.  Our team of over one hundred physical therapists and certified athletic trainers will work with you to resolve your pain and get back to training as soon as possible.  

The biomechanics of running is a growing subspecialty and has been aided by recent research, along with our growing understanding of how the human body moves.  In the past weeks, our staff has shown you how to prevent injuries with effective Dynamic Warm-Up and Static Cool Down routines and have also discussed how hip strengthening can prevent injuries as well.  Our physical therapists and certified athletic trainers are bio-mechanists by training and use video to help analyze and improve your running mechanics. This “dynamic assessment” of your mechanics looks at how your body moves, more specifically how your foot, ankle, knee and hip work together as you run.  We are able to show you how you run and address the problems in your mechanics to improve both your performance and resolve your symptoms. 

Research has shown that something as simple as cadence training or decreasing your step/stride length can dramatically decrease running injuries and even performance.  Increasing your cadence/frequency of steps decreases the loading response when your foot hits the ground and reduces the pounding on your entire body.  This is just one of many ways to change the way your run in order to help prevent and treat injuries.  Our staff will also address your specific muscular weaknesses and give you interventions to address these dynamic shock absorbers to treat and prevent injuries.

The question, “do I need orthotics?” is not a simple one and is best addressed individually. 

Don’t hesitate to reach to our staff regarding this question and any others you may have via our Sports Medicine Hotline or our Healthy Roster app.


Scott Van Aman, MD 

Orthopedic Surgeon, Foot & Ankle 

Orthopedic ONE