What I learned while getting bespoke insoles

Throughout the last 3 years, we have heard a wide range of opinions on the value of bespoke insoles (“orthoses”) from producers and clinicians. But what about the patients? I’ve been using orthoses for several years. The prescription process and walking on them has given me a better understanding of my body, reduced injury risks, and increased confidence.

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For years now, I’ve been a member of the “Saturday Friends Football Team” in Hong Kong. I drag myself out of bed around 7:30am to play a sport I’m not particularly good at. In mid-2014 there was a game like no other, but not in the athletic sense. A firm body check - from a guy I dubbed “Danger Joe” - resulted in two audible pop sounds, reminiscent of tongue clicks; my right knee was gone with my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) completely severed.

After reconstructive surgery, I visited a leading podiatrist - now an official GROM advisor - Douglas Horne. At that point, walking in congested areas was still somewhat of a nerve wracking experience due to my wobbly knee. While the initial goal of these clinical sessions was to “just fix the knee”, it became clear that Douglas had a more holistic plan.

The session started with visualizing what was actually going wrong in my knee. By moving my leg in specific ways and applying pressure to certain joints he set me straight (literally). This approach tells you two things: 1) the clinician knows what he/she is doing; 2) the patient gets to understand the complexity and risks of their complication.

Subsequently, Douglas didn't move straight into providing a bespoke orthoses. He gave me an off the shelf insole with certain manual adjustments first. This allowed Douglas to test his initial prescription while giving me a chance to experience the basic effects without dropping a lump of cash. Yes, bespoke orthoses are not cheap and not everyone needs them!

Throughout the week there was an increased stability in my knee. Exercise - as advised by  Douglas - also played a role in strengthening my knee. It was clear, I needed to get a pair of bespoke orthoses. At the same time, Douglas kept emphasizing that the solution is never just an orthoses. You now have a permanent reason to go to the gym. Yay!

Call it art, science, or luck but I haven't been injured since seeing Douglas *knock on wood*. While my knee will always be a bit of a worry, I share the football pitch with Joe every Saturday. Yes, my confidence has allowed me to drop the “Danger”.

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