Club SportsSports

Marty Taylor wants to give Oregon club sports a bounce in its step with custom orthotics

In sports, even the smallest competitive advantage can help push one athlete past another. Extra time spent training, one more hour of sleep or a better meal the previous night — all of the little things an athlete can do adds up to the final product.

Marty Taylor, a Certified Pedorthist who runs Podium Orthotics Lab in Springfield, wants to provide Oregon club sports with another tool that can help them become even more successful. That tool is custom fit orthotics.

“Orthotics help the alignment of the foot and its relationship with the ground,” Taylor said. “Basically they help the biomechanical function of the entire body.”

Orthotics are removable shoe inserts that assist arch support in the foot. When people walk on soft ground like grass or sand, the heel sinks in. This causes the foot to become wider, forming a natural arch with the terrain. Orthotics simulate that system on hard ground, bringing the terrain up to the foot.

As the foot is stabilized with orthotics, it forms a kinetic chain up the rest of the body. This realigns the ankle, knees, hips, lower spine and shoulders to their proper position.

“You’ll see an increase in endurance because now the body doesn’t have to overwork itself,” Taylor said of using orthotics. “There will be pain relief and performance enhancement.”

Orthotics support preventative care, keeping athletes from missing large chunks of the season due to injuries. Missing six to eight weeks while recovering can ruin an entire season, so getting out in front of potential hazards can be a big help.

So far, Taylor has partnered with the Oregon running club, cycling club and triathlon club, though he ultimately wants to encompass the entire University.

“If it’s a UO team and a club team, I want them to know who I am,” Taylor said. “I want Podium Athletics to be a staple that if you want an orthotic designed for an athlete this is where you go.”

The orthotics come with a foot analysis that helps customize the end product to each individual athlete, meeting his or her specific needs. Taylor also offers the teams he sponsors the orthotics at a discounted price to help make them more affordable for student athletes.

“I’ve never gotten an orthotic before and I didn’t know much about them,” Thomas Fate, a triathlete at Oregon, said. “But it makes sense given what I’ve heard about them in the athletic community because endurance athletes fight a lot of chronic injuries.”

Fate has suffered through shin splints and a torn hamstring in the past — injuries that he can still feel while he runs today. The hope is that the orthotics can help alleviate some of those issues.

“Every time your foot hits the ground, it’s putting a strain on your body,” Garrett Richman, a fellow Duck triathlete, said. “So having a state of the art insole for your shoe can make a huge difference.”

That difference might only equate a small improvement in the end product, but like all the other little things, when added up, they can mean the difference between winning and losing.

“I work with an athlete doing a triathlon and they can take two minutes off their time — that’s a huge improvement,” Taylor said. “Orthotics can be a factor in getting you to the finish line.”

Follow Christopher Keizur on Twitter @chriskeizur

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Christopher Keizur

Christopher Keizur