Coaches Corner

Foot Mechanics can help your runner through a proper evaluation of running gait, exam and possibly foot orthoses.

  1. When should my runner be evaluated? 

    The optimal time would be just prior to a running program so that the athlete has time to acclimate to the biomechanical changes created by any biomechanical corrections via shoe or orthosis. However, the optimal time is often an ideal that, in practice, is unrealistic. The runner should be evaluated at any point in time where strain is noted. Even after injury, orthoses can be an integral part of the recovery plan. As the athlete recovers, the orthoses can off-load the injury; and after recovery, the orthoses can be changed to the optimal position for running.
  2. My runner is injured. Other than orthoses, what can be done?

    At FootMechanics, we can take a look at the training history of a runner in great depth. The history, along with the gait evaluation and exam, can help us assist the coach in putting together a program that will prevent future injury. We can also point out strengthening and flexibility issues that are apparent from the video tape and exam. Massage, rollers, and/or physical therapy may be recommended.
  3. Once my runner has orthoses, how long does it take before he can get back to the program?

    It generally takes one to two weeks before the runner has acclimated to the biomechanical changes created by the foot orthoses. The speed of adaptation is an individual phenomenon. Orthotic therapy is a process. Often, changes need to be made along the way to ensure proper fit and biomechanical positioning. As long as both coach and athlete are aware of this process from the outset, frustration can be kept to a minimum.
  4. My runner is frustrated; I’m frustrated with my runner. She just can’t seem to stay away from injury. The doctor tells her to stop running…..and that’s just unacceptable to her. What can you do to help my runner?

    First, it is always important to consult with a doctor or health professional that is a runner. They understand the frustrations of being grounded and may even have experience with similar injuries and how they actually make the runner feel. In FootMechanics, you have a Cped who has been a runner for more than 3 decades and has personally worked through many different injuries. We definitely understand the need to “stay on the road” and are devoted to doing what we can to help the injured runner do the same.

    Second, we are not doctors and any functional device must be prescribed by a doctor. However, that said, we are often able to consult with the physician or chiropractor and advise them of different modalities that may be incorporated into the shoe and even suggest a different shoe to help the athlete to get back on the road at an earlier date. Physicians who are not also Cpeds are often untrained in shoes and the devices that may correct biomechanical issues.
  5. I want my runner to see you. How do we proceed?

    FootMechanics is based in the Chicago area but outside the area for larger groups. Ask your runner to email us with her training schedule along with details about her injury. At that point, we will contact her and form a relationship. During this time frame, we will ask her to schedule an appointment or make a phone call to her physician or chiropractor to obtain a prescription for foot orthoses in the event she will be casted for orthoses during our first appointment. Much like many medical professionals without a physician on staff, we need to have a script or order for “foot orthoses” on file before we can proceed with casting. We will put her on our return schedule (first visit) which will require her to undergo an exam, gait analysis and possibly casting for foot orthoses. We will go through the gait analysis with her and make shoe recommendations. With the athlete’s permission, we can advise you as well. We will confer with you re: her training program to set her up for success. Once the orthoses have been fabricated, we will schedule another return appointment (2nd visit) to fit her with the orthoses (typically 2 weeks after casting). Contact via email and possibly telephone will be important during the initial 30 day period. If a problem should arise, she can forward the orthoses to us and we can make the necessary changes. If problems do not arise, we will still schedule a return trip (3rd visit) to conduct a physical exam and ensure the orthoses are, in fact, a success.
  6. I’m not sure about all of this. This runner has seen many doctors and tried many different shoes…….she even has a pair of orthotics!........why should we entrust her to you?

    FootMechanics is uniquely devoted to the care of the athlete’s foot. Why? Because it was created by a runner/cyclist who is intimately familiar with the way an injury feels and how it impacts the athlete psychologically. Additionally, FootMechanics was borne out of frustration and an insatiable quest to determine the origin of running and cycling related injuries. After several experiences with inadequate custom foot orthoses, the founder of FootMechanics, Shelley Simmering, decided to become a Cped to determine how to make a good vs. bad orthosis. She worked for a highly recognized running store in the Chicago area and learned that the shoe alone was not keeping runners from getting injured. She incorporates her personal knowledge, education at the Chicago Medical School, years of experience with runners on a daily basis as a Cped and experience at the running store into what she, as a runner for many decades, would want in an orthosis---control with extreme comfort. She has learned which shoes work best for which foot type and with an orthosis. Finally, knowing what it feels like to be sidelined with injury, she is continues to research materials, product and modalities for anything that will keep athletes injury-free. “ I have a passion for sharing my knowledge as a runner and as a Cped with you or any runner…..because I know what it means to ‘stay on the road’.” 

    Many physicians provide orthoses and gait evaluations. However, they often cannot devote the time to the process like a Cped can because of greater overhead and expenses. Often, once the evaluation is completed, the job of creating the orthoses is left to staff or a physician who does not regularly cast for orthoses. Some physicians or chiropractors cast athletes by making foam impressions or using inadequate computer programs. Keep in mind that we have personally tried running in orthoses made from every possible casting technique: they are not all equal. Even plaster casting, in the wrong hands, can create orthoses with disastrous results. As Cpeds specializing in the athlete, FootMechanics is evaluating gait and casting for orthoses every day. Not many other medical professionals can do so because their scope of practice is either different or much broader.
  7. My runner has tried everything. She has been to every specialist, done the strengthening exercises, crosstrains, tried various shoes…….how often do you see this type of situation? Do you have any experience helping those who have lost all hope?

    At Foot Mechanics, we either see the proactive patient or the one nobody else can help. We have experience with helping the athlete who has lost all hope. We work until we can find the answer because we know how important a solution can be. Likewise, we honestly advise those whose issues are beyond our practice and help them obtain the help they need. We have many success stories to share. We have helped triathletes that were first out of the water and off of the bike but “could not run” and we have helped marathoners who could never get past mile 10 without injury. We have helped those who had given up running because it was too painful. We’ve uncovered medical conditions that were responsible for an athlete’s inability to run and they were able to get help and live to run again. Most of us were designed to run, but often we need a little extra help to give us the ability to run longer and injury free. FootMechanics is dedicated to helping the motivated athlete who has exhausted all avenues and hopes to run again.