Monday, December 13, 2010

The Agony of Da Feet

In the past few months, I've been mentioning in a few of my running posts about the pain I've been having in the balls of my feet.  It's only during long runs that I experience the pain, and I think it's attributable to my new New Balance WR760STs. While the shoes seem to be working out okay, my one complaint is that they don't have enough cushioning, especially in the area where my foot pushes off with each stride (the balls of my feet).  I tried this pair of Powerstep inserts (that I bought at Bob Roncker's Running Spot locally), but my feet cramped up when I wore them:

I'm not sure what went wrong, since the four podiatrists on the box looked so trustworthy.  (Pictures can be deceiving, I guess.)

After returning the Powerstep inserts, I decided that a full shoe insert wasn't what I needed for running. What I really needed was just something to cushion the area under the balls of my feet.  The very nice people at Dr. Todd's contacted me and were eager to help.  Dr. Todd's is an online seller of foot care products out of Indianapolis that is owned by a practicing podiatrist (Dr. Todd Mann). They have great prices and exceptional customer service.  After explaining my problem to him, Dr. Todd sent me a few different types of products to try out.

Deluxe Metatarsal Cushion
The first product I tried was a metatarsal cushion (pictured at left).  For those of you who don't speak fancy podiatrist language, metatarsal means "ball-of-foot." 

While I think this particular cushion would be really helpful in a dress shoe, it just didn't work at all for running.  I put the loop around my toe, then put a sock on, hoping the sock would hold the cushion in place.  Uh, it didn't.  The cushion bunched up under my foot after a few steps, making it fairly uncomfortable to walk/run/exist. 

Test result= Fail.

GelStep Dress Insole with
Ball-of-Foot Cushion
The second product that Dr. Todd's sent me was a GelStep Dress Insole with Ball-of-Foot cushion.  It was longer, and shaped more like a traditional insert, except with a gooey gel-like substance in the metatarsal (ball-of-foot) area. 

What I liked about it was that it was rubber, so it didn't slide around too much in my shoe during my runs.  I also liked that it was very thin, so unlike the traditional inserts, there was enough room in the shoe that my feet didn't cramp up.  It was fairly comfortable for shorter runs, however it just didn't do the trick for the long haul. 

During my Thanksgiving Day race, the inserts were bothering me after a few miles in.  So, for shorter runs, these inserts get a C+, but for the long runs, they also get an F, unfortunately.

Spenco Gel Ball of Foot Cushion
The third product I tried, the Spenco Gel Ball of Foot Cushion, was clearly the winner.  They say the third time is a charm, and in this case, it was definitely true.  I wasn't quite sure how these would work out, since there wasn't any type of adhesive backing.  I figured they would slide around too much. 

But then it occured to me (a stroke of genius... it happens once in a while) to put the cushion under the standard insert in my New Balance's.  This was definitely the way to go.  It gave me just enough added cushioning under the balls of my feet without sliding around.  I wore these for my recent half marathon in Vegas with no complaints.  Everything else on my body hurt, but my feet felt fine!

I highly recommend Dr. Todd's for any running-related shoe/foot issues.  What's nice about their site is that you can shop by item, or by whatever problem you're having.  I just went to the section called "Ball of Foot Pain" and had 33 items to choose from.  You can go to Dr. Todd's website here, or call them at 877-637-8633.

Thanks again to Dr. Todd's for sending me these products to review.  My feet are very appreciative!

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