Objective: This study aimed to analyze the influence of a short-term and long-term custom orthotic on a group of women runners with a history of overuse knee injurys
Conclusion: Custom orthotics led to a significant decrease in knee pain with an improvement in symptoms at 6 weeks of orthotic use. Custom orthotics were seen to have an immediate effect on the dynamics that of the lower limb when they are worn in shoes. The custom orthotics had a significant effect on both ankle and knee forces with an increase in external knee rotation and angular impulse.
Discussion: This is another significant piece of research to come out of the University of Massachusetts Biomechanics Laboratory by a group of expert biomechanics researchers. It shows that custom foot orthotics are capable of changing the forces at both the knee and ankle resulting in a reduction in knee pain. What is interesting is that the changes in forces at the ankle are seen as kinematics (physical motion) whereas at the knee only kinetics (forces without any actual movement) are seen. These changes in force at the knee can be assumed to be responsible for the original knee pain and therefore anything that reduces these forces will result in pain reduction. This study showed that foot orthotics were capable of this, possibly by changing the kinematics of the ankle. What it didn’t investigate was the potential for other approaches such as exercise to also reduce these pathological forces but other studies have shown that exercises can also reduce these forces to a lesser degree.
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(Maclean et al (2008) Short and Long Term Influences of a Custom Foot Orthotic Intervention on Lower Extremity Dynamics. Vol 18 Issue 4 pp338-343)