Orthotics for back pain?

Discussion in 'Health & Fitness' started by michael_1265, Oct 18, 2009.

  1. michael_1265

    michael_1265 Professional

    May 8, 2007
    Richmond, VA
    I play on hard courts a lot, and I have been having a lot of lower back stiffness for a day or two after matches. I am 6'4", 230, and 44 years old. I assume a lot of the pain is coming from the pounding on hard courts. Other than not playing on hard courts, the only thing I can think I can think of is custom orthotic insoles. Does anyone have experiece with these?

  2. ollinger

    ollinger Legend

    Nov 24, 2004
    New Jersey
    A piece of foam in the shoe of a 230 pound guy isn't likely to have alot of protective effect with respect to the pounding your back takes. Also, tennis involves a good deal of twisting trauma to the back, and orthotics have no effect on that. I play mostly on (Har-tru) clay now, including the indoor season, and that has been very helpful in easing the aches.
  3. NBM

    NBM Rookie

    May 28, 2009
    This really is untrue. First off sports orthotics are hard/rigid and very supportive. They arent made of foam. If someone has a faulty foot strike when they run <which many do>, that results in extra pressure being put on joints and tendons and even the lower back. Also the purpose of the sports orthotics is to help keep you from having the twisting trauma you speak of.
  4. NBM

    NBM Rookie

    May 28, 2009
    Mike..I've lots of experiences w. orthotics and wear them every time I play w.o fail. They are the only thing that has kept me on court all these years. I suffered from chronic achilles tendonitis sometimes in both achilles...i dont suffer from it any more thanks to the orthotics. They also have done alot to eliminate those knee tweaks and also w. lower back pain....

    A good indication you have a faulty foot strike and could benefit from sports orthotics is if you wear out your shoes on your heel a lot more on one side than the other...this would mean you are pronating or supinating and that your foot isnt landing properly. the orthotics keep everything lined up properly and supported. Other factors could be high rigid arches or flat feet.

    Hope this helps. good luck
  5. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    You can take some of the shock off your feet, knees and back with good replacement insoles. No tennis shoe comes with anything other than a lousy insole of foam which quickly compresses down and is then totally useless. Superfeet Orange seems to be a favorite of board members, qlthough I use the Sof Sole Athlete: http://www.runningwarehouse.com/catpage-insoles.html

    But ollinger is right that getting the weight down and getting involved in a good core exercise program will ultimately do much more than cushioning inserts.
  6. nytennisaddict

    nytennisaddict Legend

    Aug 20, 2007
    Westchester (lower), NY
    a number of things have helped me rid myself of back pain:

    * being a former fat guy (5'4": 205# -> 150#), i can say that dropping weight has been #1 to reduce back/knee issues
    * improving conditioning helps me to be able to "work" at staying light on my feet... when not in shape, and getting fatigued, i'll tend to "stomp" around the court more vs. staying on the balls of my feet in a bent knee athletic position (eg. muscles absorb impact vs. joints/bones)
    * improving technique... i arch my back too much on a kick serve... so i've reduced the severity of the arch, and learned to hit a slice serve

    i think orthotics (as prescribed by my podiatrist) or surgery (as one doctor prescribed by my ortho - see a trend here - if i went to my dentist he would no doubt prescribe braces for my back pain!!) are bandaids in my opinion, and should be last resorts. They are often the first looked to solutions because they are easy (compared to the harder/more painful challenges of changing diet, improving cardio, strengthening muscles, improving technique, etc...).

    forgot to answer the original question... i tried orthotics and i thought they really helped in the beginning, but it just helped me push myself a little further before the pain returned... the above things helped me way more than overpriced foam/plastic inserts.
  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

    Feb 25, 2006
    Stuck in the Matrix somewhere in Santa Clara CA
    ollinger is usually pretty knowledgeable about this sort of stuff, but I would be inclined to believe that good shoes and othortics could possibly be beneficial for the lower back. But sure, the weight can also be a significant factor. It has been my experience that your feet & footwear can account for pain in the lower leg, knees, hips and lower back. I would check with a foot specialist to see if you have special footwear needs. You might also consult with a reputable chiropracter to determine if there are some alignment issues.
  8. jhp49

    jhp49 Rookie

    Jan 14, 2006
    Maybe go to Walmart and try the Dr. Scholls Custom Fit diagnostic machine. It's free at at least you will find out if you have a foot problem (pronation, etc) and what type of inner sole is recommended. Then you can try Dr. Scholls or go to a good sporting goods store and buy the correct inner sole there.
  9. danix

    danix Semi-Pro

    Apr 6, 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Lower back stiffness sounds like a flexibility issue, not a foot problem.

    Still, orthotics can help correct issues with knees and feet, and also can have an impact on your back alignment.

    Orthotics can be flexible or rigid depending on how extreme the issue they are correcting. Mine are rigid but built up specifically for tennis by my podiatrist, so there is some cushioning in there too.

    You didn't ask, but I suggest the Prince T22 as extremely comfortable shoes you can try to see if more cushioning helps.
  10. dyson

    dyson New User

    Jul 16, 2008
    i used to have mild soreness in my lower back, but mainly had tendonitis in my foot before i got custom orthotics. and now, i will never go back to playing without them. i used superfeet green before i got the custom inserts, and while the greens were pretty good, custom orthotics are on a WHOLE different level. i went to the podiatrist, and i don't know if i got a sports oriented insert or not, but mine has cushion on the top and bottom with a rigid insert in between. orthotics aren't just for feet problems, if you have a problem with your foot strike, you may develop problems in your feet, ankles, knees, hips, back, neck, etc.

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