Everyone is always looking for ways to be faster and stronger in sports.
(The legal ones are best, of course.)
What you wear while in action has often been a focus of improvement. They make Olympic swimwear that mimics sharkskin and bicycle shorts that try to massage the lactic acid out of your thighs as you pump the pedals.
While they’re not quite as cutting edge or… skintight as the above items, custom orthotics can be a big help in achieving one’s athletic goals. And you don’t need to have a team of professional coaches and advisors to benefit!
The effects of orthotics on your feet are quite practical—and they can benefit you off the track or court as well. Here are a few situations in which they can help.
Save Energy with Realignment
The body is a complex structure with a ton of moving parts. When everything is properly aligned, everything goes off without a hitch. If something is off, however, it can be a different story.
Imagine how you feel carrying something uniform (like a stack of books) versus carrying something that’s more unwieldy (like a pot full of sloshing water). Which one tends to take more effort to work with?
When you’re carrying something awkward, you’re spending energy not just to move it, but to stay in balance as well. The same sort of thing can happen when your body itself is out of balance, too!
Your body is expending energy to propel you, but having abnormalities that shift your structure out of alignment or cause your feet to roll inward or outward too far is going to cost extra. Muscles often have to fire in extra ways to maintain stability, which ultimately leads to looser technique and fatigue arriving sooner.
Custom orthotics are specifically designed to provide support and stability where needed, meaning you are not “leaking” energy as much. Certain materials in orthotics can also provide more rebound of energy upon your foot impacting the ground, providing greater direct propulsion.
Preventing Sidelining Injuries
Perhaps the most daunting obstacle to progress is receiving a sports injury that forces you to dial down your plans or put them on hold altogether. The consequences aren’t just physical—they can be psychologically painful as well.
While custom orthotics are often prescribed in response to a problem that has already caused an injury or pain, they can also be used as a preventative measure. By addressing issues with biomechanics before they turn into trouble, an athlete can significantly reduce their risks of getting hurt.
The fatigue-lowering efforts mentioned above also factor in here. The less fatigued you become while working out, the less likely you are to suffer an injury.
However, having custom orthotics in play is not going to make you invincible. They can address your risk factors, but they are not going to prevent you from injuring yourself if you push your body too hard all at once. Remember to stick to a reasonable training plan that involves warming up and cooling down before each session.
Comfort and Confidence
Comfort comes from cushioning, but it also comes from confidence.
Custom orthotics are made to provide comfort where feet need it most. This is through both being materially comfortable via proper cushioning, but also by redistributing the way weight is being distributed across the feet.
If there is an area that is receiving more stress than it should—often thanks to an abnormality in your foot structure—custom orthotics can correctively redistribute that excess force where it should have gone instead. Pain from arch problems or overpronation will be a memory!
Increasing your comfort and decreasing your injury risk leads to more assurance in your movement. When you’re not worrying about whether that ache in your heel is leading to Achilles tendinitis or some other problem, you can focus more on the game or activity at hand.
More focus, any trainer can tell you, leads to improved technique over time. Your attention can stay on your rhythm, your breathing, your stance, your drills… and not your pain.
Improve Your Performance – On and Off the Field
The best part about orthotics is, unlike a sharkskin swimsuit or a tight pair of bicycle shorts, you can continue wearing them just about anywhere without fear of social stigma!
The orthotics that can provide you support and comfort during your runs can also provide that support and comfort while you’re standing at work, or strolling about, or just generally getting on with your life outside of sports.
Custom orthotics are made specifically to address the specific needs of your feet and ankles on a daily basis. While it might be most beneficial to have separate pairs of orthotics made for your active life and the daily grind (and both will last much longer that way, too!), it can still be highly helpful to switch your inserts from each set of shoes to another.
We can help you determine the best route to take for using custom orthotics. On top of that, we can provide further treatments and advice if needed. If you are already suffering from a painful condition such as Achilles tendinitis or plantar fasciitis, we have additional therapies (such as shockwave) that can speed your recovery time and get you back into action sooner.
The sooner you can give your feet and ankles the support they might need, the better! Give our Upland office a call at (909) 920-0884 to get started. You can also fill out our online contact form to request an appointment or ask any questions you may have.