Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to head down to Olympic Physical Therapy in Wakefield for an analysis of my feet and biomechanics and for a customized shoe fitting.
I was more than a little hesitant to have my feet/gait evaluated, especially since I am trying hard to run in a more natural way–using more minimalist shoes.
When I arrived at Olympic Physical Therapy (OPT), I was greeted and introduced to Bill, a Certified Pedorthist who works at OPT. If you want to read up a little more on what a pedorthist does, click HERE.
Bill started off my evaluation by asking what type of shoes I currently run in, how long I have been running, surface I run on, etc. He then took a detailed look at my feet and my gait. He pointed out a few things that surprised me.
He mentioned that I had high arches, something I have know for a long time but kind of forgot about! Next we looked at my toes—in all their glory! I have been having some skin shredding/blisters on my big toes for quite a while now, and I think we finally figured out where it is coming from.
I have pretty decent flexibility when it comes to dorsiflexion of my big toe holding my foot out in front of me, but it’s a different story when my foot gets push back from the ground or another solid surface. When that happens, my big toe is not as flexible and is having a hard time doing what it’s supposed to do when I run.
Instead of stabilizing my arch in the mid stance and during take off or propulsion, it’s kind of trying to gain traction. I know this probably sounds overly scientific, so the net is that my big toe is not doing its job to the fullest extent.
The other thing Bill noticed is that when my foot is relaxed, my big toe drops lower than my other toes. My feet are pretty neutral, my arches just needed some more support and a little bit of modification for my big toe, especially on the left foot.
The bad news is that although I love running in my barefoot shoes, I am going to have to take a break from them for a while. The good news is that I found a different Mizuno shoe (the Wave Rider) that works for my foot and with some additional arch support, running has felt much easier. OPT has many different shoes and inserts at the store, so you can get fitted and purchase your shoes at the office as well!
I guess what happens when you have really high arches and attempt running barefoot is that the force of your foot strike is not dispersed as well and is therefore absorbed by other areas of the feet like the ball of the foot. This may explain why I was having an issue with Morton’s neuroma on my left foot!
I have run for about a week in my new shoes/arch support and am feeling really good. The metatarsal pain I had previously has decreased. Upon the suggestion of Bill, I also purchased a pair of casual shoes that had more arch support for me to wear during the day (more on my Danskos later!).
After checking in with Bill, I got a brief evaluation from Guerrino, a physical therapist at OPT. He checked my range of motion and confirmed something I had suspected: I do have a slight difference in leg length. However, it would do more harm than good to correct it, so I am fine the way I am!
Ashley gave me some stretches to do to help with my hip flexibility (in addition to doing an outstanding job entertaining my kids!). I have been doing my exercises dutifully to allow my hips to rotate the way I need them to. I am not giving up on my minimalist shoes, rather I think I am just going to have to tread carefully (pun intended) by introducing them more gradually. I will use the Mizunos as my regular shoe, as I continue to work in the minimalist shoes.
I am so glad I got over my initial skepticism and went to get evaluated and fit for shoes. I think I learned some valuable things about my feet and running and how to reduce injury. You can check out Olympic Physical Therapy’s website and Facebook page for more information and a list of their five locations throughout Rhode Island.
P.S. Shalane Flanagan gets her orthotics from OPT!
30 Something Mother Runner received a biomechanical screening, shoe fitting, shoes and inserts for the purposes of this review. All opinions are 100% my own.