Friday 14 October 2011

Out with the insoles

Long-time followers with good memories may remember that after my fun times with Plantar Faciitis started last September (that's September 2010), my Physio prescribed a fetching pair of orthotics. They were quite uncomfortable at first, but I gradually got used to them and have been running with them in my trainers ever since.

However, a few runs ago I decided to try a run without them. So far, there hasn't been any sudden resurgence of strong heel pain, and I have now run maybe 3 or 4 times without the insoles.

There were a few reasons why I decided to try running without them. The main one was that in the last few weeks, I've been getting a few unusual pains in the foot, particularly after a longer run. I started noticing some discomfort around the ball of my foot, and I just had a feeling that this was being caused by the distorting shape of the orthotics. I haven't had any more of those pains since I removed them.

Secondly, I know when I started using them that a lot of people weren't sure it was the best way to go. From comments on my blog, reading other people's blogs and a few conversations with runners, I was prompted to spend a lot of time thinking about the whole debate over increased padding and protection (insoles and supportive trainers) v. minimalist running (barefeet). I'm still not sure what I think about all this, but I do think there's only so much support your feet can take before you lose the ability to run in a natural way.

Thirdly, it's coming up to a year since I first started using them, and the Physio said that they should be replaced after a year. So I might as well try running without them.

Finally, I've never really been convinced that they did any good anyway. The process of getting back into running was a long gradual one with many false starts. I still feel pain in my heel (allbeit on a much smaller scale than this time last year), and there was no one solution to the problem - certainly not the addition of orthotics.

I haven't thrown them away, they are under the bed so if needs be I can always put them back in again. But my plan for now is to take things sensibly and carefully - I know, really boring - but I'm going to stick to 3 runs a week for now, no running on consecutive days, and a gradual steady increase in mileage each week.

Luckily I've found some fantastic paths and trails to run and cycle on near my new home, so upping the mileage should be enjoyable...


  1. Sounds like you are being very sensible about the orthotics. I ran with them for a while too, and then I just got sick of them, and haven't had any serious problems since. I do think a lot of it has to do with finding the amount of running your body can cope with without causing those nagging injuries, and mixing it up with other sports, which you do. So good luck in going without - hopefully you'll be fine!

  2. Glad to hear you are having success w/o the orthotics. I think orthotics serve a purpose to help the foot goet over the pain, but once the pain is gone, it's good to have the foot "learn" to use the toe muscles to strengthen the foot. Maybe that's where you foot is right now. Just be sure not to heel strike, that was the hardest for me to adjust to, but is what made the big difference :).

    The paths are really pretty, I love how green things are!!

  3. My physio suggested orthotics for me and while she was deciding if they were the best plan of action, she taped my foot up to reduce the pronation that was happening. I've never gone down the orthotic route but I still strap my feet to run and it's stopped the ITB issues I was having.

  4. Glad to hear it's going ok without the insoles. Remember to listen to your body and if you feel any niggles coming back then best to get them checked up on.

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