Saturday, July 23, 2016

Orthotics, Take Two

Six weeks ago I got custom orthotics to help with my foot issues, particularly hallux rigidus. Here's the rundown on how that initial break-in period went.

Breaking Them In

I followed instructions and broke them in slowly - an hour the first day, two hours the second day, etc. And no running in them until they were comfortable for a full day.

While I was able to build up to a full day of wear, they didn't ever feel quite right, for two reasons:

  1. My big toes could feel the edges of the orthotics and didn't seem to be properly supported.
  2. I felt like I was walking on half of a golf ball much of the time. Was the metatarsal pad in the wrong place?

Fortunately I had a follow-up appointment already on the books to check the fit, since my doctor told me it was common for them to need adjustments.

Adjustments Needed

As I suspected, adjustments were needed:

  1. The orthotics were the wrong size. They were made for the size of my feet (4-1/2), not the size of my running shoes (5-1/2). My doctor said that was their mistake and apologized for it.
  2. While the placement of the metatarsal pad looked correct, it was pretty thick where the metatarsal and dancer's pads overlapped. The dancer's pads were 1/16 of an inch, but the metatarsal pads were 1/8 of an inch. Changing the metatarsal pad to 1/16 of an inch might help.

Back to Breaking Them In

I waited 3 weeks for the adjusted orthotics to come back from the lab, and now I'm back to square one in the break-in period. I wore them for an hour yesterday. So far so good.

I'm trying to be patient, but its hard! It's been 3 months since the initial hallux rigidus diagnosis and I'm still at least a week away from being able to run in my custom orthotics. Patience. Patience is a virtue.

If all goes well, I should have some news soon about my racing plans for the fall. Stay tuned!


  1. It must be so hard to wait Kim. Very interesting about the break in period.
    I used to have insoles from a company called Barefoot Science. Once they wore out I never got back to replace them, but they did have that "walking on a half a golf ball" type of feeling, and took a while to get used to. Very well described.
    Hoping once these new orthotics come in they will be correct and your feet will be very, very happy! :)

    1. Thank you Carl! It helps me to know that the golf ball feeling is normal. I'm slowly adjusting :)