In athletics, the feet are the foundation that keep athletes on their toes. Every foot is unique, but oftentimes athletes squeeze their feet into shoes that do not give them surrounding support, causing game-ending injuries. Custom inserts are now changing the playing field.
17-year-old Kaitlyn Tunks is a senior track star at St. Louis High School in Lake Charles, who lives to run. "Just the fact that I like to get out there and run," she said, "there's nothing else like it and my team is like my family."
Running has landed Kaitlyn a track scholarship to Northwestern State University, a prize she must stay in tip-top shape to claim, but something that pain was threatening. "It felt like so much pressure on your shins and it hurts like a shooting pain down my shin," she said, "and in my arches it just feels like my muscles are tightening up."
Center for Orthopaedics Foot and Ankle Specialist Tyson Green says shoe designers typically focus on the outside, not the inside. The result: devastating injuries for athletes in their prime. "Everything from shin splits, plantar fascititis, ankle rotation, Achilles tendon injuries," said Dr. Green, "there's all kinds of things that could happen."
Custom-fitted inserts are game-changers for high impact athletes. They redirect the pressure in certain parts of the foot. "You have to make sure you stabilize the heel, the arch, and look at what they're doing with it," said Dr. Green, "is it a running back, is it a wide receiver, what kind of movements are they having?"
Last football season, Dr. Green and the CFO team fitted every McNeese State University football player with custom inserts. He says the season-ending injuries saw a big drop. "With the football team, we saw a drastic reduction in injuries, especially lower extremity injuries like ACLs, ankle sprains and things that are nagging injuries that keep them out," said Dr. Green.
For Kaitlyn, the inserts changed her running form and increased her speed. "Before I had them, when I would run the balls of my feet it would feel like pound, pound, pound. With this, it's more cushion and soft," she said.
Now Kaitlyn is dreaming bigger than ever before with her eyes on the 2016 Olympics. "I want to run in the Olympics," she said, "I want to try to go to the Olympic trials."
Custom inserts can be used for kids as young as ten years of age, who have issues with growth plates. The mold stays good for several years and prices range from $30 for a store-bought pair to several hundred dollars for highly specialized inserts.
You can check out a seminar on sports injury prevention and performance enhancement with orthotic inserts. It is happening Tuesday, April 15 at 5:30 P.M. at Center for Orthopaedics on Imperial Boulevard in Lake Charles. Call 721-2903 to register or go to www.centerforortho.com.