Friday, October 14, 2011


So my orthotics finally arrived, and not a moment too soon.

In case you've missed all the excitement (by which I mean "excitement"), here's a brief recap of what's been going on around here:

  • I have a moderate case of MTSS that is most likely caused by over-pronation that isn't being corrected sufficiently by stability shoes & semi-custom orthotics.
  • A few weeks of TheraBand exercises to strengthen the small muscles in the lower legs often corrects the trouble but in my case didn't.
  • I tried running in air casts but found them quite uncomfortable to run in for more than a mile and a half -- they felt like vice grips on the back of my foot.
  • Two weeks ago I was fitted for custom orthotics.
  • During those two weeks, I've developed some yucky tendonitis in my left ankle, which is probably also a result of pronation, and a minor (but painful) strain in my right calf, also probably at least partly from the pronation, which resulted in my not being able to run at all for a good five days.

Lately, the tendonitis & calf strain have really been bigger issues than the shin splints. The shin splint pain I can usually run through; this stuff, not so much. (Based on what I've read, I was also more worried about doing more severe damage with those.)

I was able to go back to running on Monday, though still with not-insignificant pain (I cut the run two miles short, but at least I did something). Tuesday's track workout was a little easier, but especially towards the end, I could feel pain in both areas returning. Plan A for Thursday was to get a marathon pace run in early at the track, since my appointment was in Palo Alto at 2:45 & I wasn't sure I'd have time to do it after. Alas, the universe had other plans. A) It was already hot as BALLS when I got there, B) I forgot my water bottle, C) my Garmin died during the .2 mile jog from my car to the track, and D) my various lower leg ailments were already aching by then as well.

Eff this noise, I decided, & walked right back to my car. I'll just take all my stuff with me to the doctor & then go straight to the track after. I figured this was probably for the best anyway, since I'd then have the orthotics.

So let me tell you about them:

  • As you can see, they look kind of like little duck feet, because there's no toe part; they only fill up about 3/4 of the bottom of the shoe.
  • The top is made from some kind of think vinyl-like material, but the rest is HARD hard plastic.
  • When I first put them in my shoes and put them on, they felt really slippery, which worried me. Then Dr. S told me that the customs go underneath the original inserts that came with the shoes.
  • They are guaranteed for two years (as compared to the semi-customs, which are good for about three pairs of shoes, which for me these days works out to about five or six months, depending on the shoe).

orth 1

orth 2

orth 3

Once I had both the orthotics and the original inserts back in the shoes, the difference was immediate. One way or another, these were going to feel a lot different than my old ones. I couldn't wait to go do my 10 mile MP run.

"By the way, sometimes there's a little bit of an adjustment period," says Dr. S., "so be sure to start off with a shorter run to see how they feel. Just a couple of miles, maybe. Don't take them on a ten miler or anything."

Uhhh...okay, I thought. This is going to throw things off a little. But I nodded my assent anyway, because, hey! Custom orthotics!

On my way back to the city, there was a wreck on 101 north, which meant I didn't get home until after 4:30, which meant I was not going to the track, because going to the track at that point would mean getting home around 6:30 and not getting to park my car anywhere. Which was just as well, I figured, given Dr. S's warning about starting off with a shorter run.

But I did need to get at least some MP miles in, so I decided that an easy warm-up mile and five MP miles wasn't too unreasonable, & I could make up the others tomorrow.

And wow! What a difference! No tendonitis pain. Almost no calf pain. Almost no shin pain. Even more remarkable, my lower legs felt almost normal in the hours following the run. (That's normally when they feel the most beaten up.) Incredible.

It's only been one run, so we'll see how things go in the next few days, but as of right now, things are looking pretty good!

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