Lacing up your running shoes and hitting the pavement for a jog makes you feel energized and accomplished. However, when your feet start aching halfway through your run or throb painfully once you finish, it puts a real damper on that exercise high.
What causes post-run foot pain?
When your foot repeatedly pounds against hard surfaces during a run, it leads to a range of overuse injuries. The most common culprits behind post-run foot pain include:
- Plantar fasciitis – Symptoms of inflammation of the plantar fascia, the band of tissue running along the bottom of your foot. Heel spurs often accompany this.
- Stress fractures – Tiny cracks or severe bruises in the bones of your foot.
- Achilles tendonitis – Swelling and irritation of the Achilles tendon at the back of the ankle.
- Metatarsalgia – Pain in the foot ball right behind the toes.
Contributing factors like high arches, flat feet, weak muscles, poor flexibility, and sudden increases in mileage also play a role. Those pesky foot pain triggers throw off your gait pattern, pull on soft tissues, and put extra stress on areas designed to absorb shock.
How can orthotics help?
Orthotics are shoe inserts designed to support the foot and promote proper alignment. Worn against the sole, they serve as a cushioning barrier between your foot and the ground. Orthotics especially useful for runners by:
- Absorbing shock and pressure – This decreases the stress on soft tissues vulnerable to overuse injuries.
- Providing arch support – Supportive orthotics lift flat feet or hold high arches in a better position. This enhances stability in motion.
- Cradling the heel – A fitted heel cup keeps the foot stable and helps relieve plantar fasciitis pain.
- Promoting balance – Orthotics facilitate natural gait patterns by aligning the foot.
The result is less strain on joints and muscles with each step you take during a run. It allows you to log more mileage with less next-day soreness.
Ill-fitting orthotics ordered online or pulled from a store shelf won’t relieve your post-run pain. To reap the benefits, you need a pair tailored specifically to your feet. Begin by scheduling an exam with a podiatrist. They pinpoint any biomechanical issues unique to your feet and assess your risk factors for injury. Next comes the custom molding process. The podiatrist will have you stand on a foam box or platform that captures an imprint of your feet. It allows them to fabricate semi-rigid orthotics with special modifications to provide tailored support right where you need it most.
What to expect with orthotics?
Your stride won’t be cramped or radically altered by prescribed podiatrist orthotics. As your feet grow accustomed to the proper alignment, you may breeze through runs with less effort and less pain. However, the adjustment period takes some time. Expect potential growing pains like:
- Soreness – Some mild muscle soreness is normal at first. It should resolve within 1-2 weeks of consistent wear.
- Pressure points – Speak to your podiatrist if you experience rubbing or pinching so they adjust the fit.
- Heavier shoes – The added thickness means you may need to size up your running shoes to accommodate orthotics.
While orthotics don’t fix underlying injuries on their own, they provide immediate relief while other treatments run their course. By reducing strain on already overworked structures, custom inserts encourage the natural healing process. With consistent wear, you nip post-run foot pain in the bud and avoid complications down the road.