Orthotics for Running Injuries

custom made orthotics Guelph - short or long orthoticsWe know that orthotics can help patients with foot, knee, hip or back pain. The different mechanisms of how orthotics are helping are still being recognized.

The British Journal of Sports Medicine published an interesting article on orthotics for runners in 2009. A Randomized Control Trial studied 2 groups of runners that had pain due to chronic running injuries – including Achilles tendinopathy, patellar femoral syndrome and plantar fasciitis. Half of the group was provided with custom orthotics, while the other half of the group was provided with no intervention. Within four weeks, the group wearing the orthotics showed a statistically significant reduction in pain compared to the control group.

Why did this occur?

Some theories are that the orthotic helps to place the foot in a talar neutral position and therefore improves the person’s biomechanic chain. It is also thought that the proprioception of the foot muscles can be improved with the orthotics. In this article, the author Hirschmuller explained that “it is currently speculated that neuromuscular adaptations and reduction of muscle fatigue play the most important role”1. In addition to pain levels, this study also looked at EMG activity of the muscles before and after the orthotics and found that the orthotics increased the activity of the peroneal longus muscle, the muscle that helps to support the arch of the foot.

So, what does this all mean?

Orthotics were shown to decrease pain in runners with chronic running injury compared to the control group.

There was also an increase in muscle activity in the group of runners using the orthotics. Orthotics can help to change the input (signals) into the foot.

Stay tuned for the next post which will be wrapping up our foot pain month in discussing barefoot and minimalist running and injury prevention.


1. Hirschmüller, A. Clinical effectiveness ofcustomised sport shoe orthoses for overuse injuries in runners – a randomized controlled study. Br J Sports Med 2009

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