Marathon Orthotics – A Day Trip to PODO London
It’s 2 months to the London Marathon and your training is probably getting hard by now. Perhaps a few niggles are starting to make themselves known. Maybe you’re worried, maybe you will get more worried if they worsen or maybe you are simply looking for a race day performance edge. Running orthotics could help.
I earlier shared on this site some content from Christophe at Podo London. It was interesting stuff and perhaps mildly controversial in places.
Christophe kindly offered a couple of hours with him (and a free pair of running insoles, no other payment) and these are some thoughts from my time there.
Podo London Experience
Podo London is centrally located on the second floor of a clinic-cum-workshop, run by the affable and talkative Frenchman, Christophe Champs. His clients include several professional athletes, but the clinic is open to anyone seeking foot care. He seems to have received a fair amount of press coverage, having also charmed his way into the editorials at Women’s Running.
One of the most significant advantages of consulting with Christophe was that he assessed the fit and postural effects of the orthotics in real time, allowing me to witness the process and leave with the finished product within a few hours. In contrast, other orthotics providers might take casts and not reassess the fit and postural effects of the orthotics once they are made.
My Background in Feet
Recently, I had a Baker’s Cyst drained from the back of my knee, which had been hindering my cycling since September 2022. Although I spent £1000 on the procedure plus scans & injections, I was warned that the problem could soon recur and that I needed to strengthen my knee with specific physiotherapy. I realized that my slightly mismatched running leg length might have caused the problem in the first place.
Christophe concurred and also quickly convinced me that my current arch support was incorrectly placed and that my forefoot was too restricted, posing a risk of developing bunions and the likely cause of my black toenails.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Here’s the 6-step process we went through
- FOOTWEAR ASSESSMENT – bring your favourite pair of well-used running shoes
- POSTURAL ASSESSMENT – a podobaroscope and other tools are used to assess foot behaviours
- LOWER LIMB EXAMINATION – examines a range of motion, joint mobility, and leg length discrepancy
- GAIT ANALYSIS – A pressure measurement system ties into results from the earlier assessments
- BIOMECHANICS – to identify areas for improvement.
- MANUFACTURE & FINE-TUNING
The finished product is a multi-layered pair of custom orthotics. They don’t perhaps look as ‘polished’ as a generic pair you might buy in a running shop for £40 but they are certianly sturdier than they look in these images
One Month On
I’m glad I made this move. The first time I ran in these shoes, it felt great and different. The arch is slightly more rearward-positioned, which seems to free up my forefoot. I don’t notice any more propulsion from the forefoot, but maybe it’s there?
Surprisingly, Christophe added a 2mm insert to what appeared to be my longer leg, which was totally counterintuitive, and I was somewhat concerned about it. However, he was pretty sure it was right and told me that my hips and shoulders were now level, which my partner promptly confirmed when I got home.
My supposedly shorter leg now seems to be moving better when I run. It’s hard to explain, but I was overtly pressing on the outside front of my shorter leg’s left foot, which now appears to have stopped.
Christophe also advised me to ditch the triathlete’s elastic laces when training, as I need support across the midsection. He bemoaned my beloved Vaporfly shoes for having no supporting heel cup, but I’ll ignore him on that one (at least for now!).
Finally, I need to wear the same orthotics for both the gym and walking. However, Christophe strongly advised against using these insoles while cycling, since I had already received a good bike fit.
- Do I run faster – No!
- Have I got injured – No!
- Will I buy a replacement if and when they wear out – Yes
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