The complexity of the joint structures and movements at the foot and ankle create the potential for a multitude of issues and injuries in sport. Instability at the foot and ankle has long been associated with injuries and as a result, the benefit of orthotics use in shoes, running trainers and ski boots is well documented. In sports such as rowing, however, foot biomechanics are not necessarily treated with the same priority.
Considering the forces placed on the feet and the power delivered through the legs during the rowing action, this oversight can be severely limiting in relation to performance as well as potential injury risk.
Instability through the subtalar or mid-tarsal joints of the foot and ankle can cause excessive pronation or ‘collapsing in’ of the foot. This can cause localised foot pain and discomfort, but has big implications on overloading other structures.
If the foot collapses in, it can twist the shin bone inwards, dragging the knee with it. This in-turn can change the position of the hip and alter sitting posture in the boat or on the ergo. What was a small instability issue at the foot, over time, can now present as a serious injury elsewhere in the body!
From a performance perspective, this can be just as limiting. The stability of your feet during the ‘push’ phase is paramount to ensure as much energy as possible is applied to the footplate. If the foundations (feet) are weak or unstable you will never be able to apply maximal power. Picture it as building a house on foundations of sand, is it really going to be worthwhile?
The use of an orthotic can aid in correcting these deficits, improving movement efficiency and reducing the risk of injury. Orthotics are footbeds or insoles which aim to address imbalance or instability between your left and right sides to improve how your body moves. The fact that the orthotics are generally interchangeable between shoes can also be advantageous in situations where the footwear is attached to the boat rigging and shared by club rowers. It will allow the rower to slip their custom fitted insole into the generic shoe, providing correct support in whatever boat or rigging they happen to be using.
Drummond Clinic is a Podiatech Centre of Excellence for education, training and orthotics production. Our orthotics are made on-site, while you wait. If you would like any more information, or to book an assessment, please contact one of the team at Drummond Clinic on 01628 639 532.