The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

MLB News: Brett Lawrie Highlights the Potential Dangers of Orthotics

Posted by on Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Custom orthotics can serve as a first step for addressing a wide range of foot and ankle injuries at many podiatry offices. Naturally, your podiatrist will want to start with the least invasive treatment method that could be successful in treating and addressing your injury or ailment. This makes custom orthotics a go-to solution for many patients.

But athletes have some additional and unique concerns that must be taken into consideration. At The Center For Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine, we are not only NYC podiatrists; we are sports medicine physicians too. We understand total body biomechanics and we are very aware of how a foot-related treatment can have a much broader impact, affecting other structures such as the the ankles, legs, back and neck. Former Chicago White Sox infielder Brett Lawrie recently highlighted what happens when medical professionals do not take these complexities into consideration when prescribing treatment, including a seemingly straightforward treatment option such as custom orthotics.

nyc sports doctors
Orthotics are often used by professional athletes such as MLB players, but their use should be monitored, say NYC sports doctors. (Image Source: Flickr.com)

What Happened to Brett Lawrie?

Second baseman Brett Lawrie is a high-intensity player, who former teammates have described as “a nut” and a “super athlete.” He was disappointed by his release from the Chicago White Sox this month, but a number of teams have expressed considerable interest in him, including The Royals, Rays, Jays, and The Mets. In fact, Brett Lawrie is the most-searched player on RotoWorld.com as of March 2017. The bad news is that he has to focus on healing his injuries getting back to 100% physically before he can sign with a new team.

On July 21, 2016, he sustained a soft tissue injury, described as a “strained left hamstring.” Later, the Sox added that he had suffered a knee injury and hip pain as well. The 27-year-old went through a five-game injury rehab assignment with Double-A Birmingham, but he didn’t return to Major League Baseball. In fact, he spent months working with physicians and sports medicine experts to determine precisely what put him out of action. He reportedly went so far as to cut out sugar from his diet. In October, Lawrie and his medical experts finally arrived at a conclusion: his orthotics actually worsened his injury, resulting in a prolonged recovery period.

Brett Lawrie Says Orthotics Caused a Chain Reaction in His Body

He first started using orthotics last year to deal with some “instability” during his offseason workouts. “I was put into orthotics for the first time in 26 years, and it definitely threw me through a loop,” Lawrie said, adding, “It was the worst time of my life, to be honest with you. Moving forward from here, it’s about getting back to my flat feet and stabilizing that [issue].”

Lawrie explained that the orthotics altered his flat feet and shifted his body in a lateral manner, resulting in abnormal movements.  “…That’s not how I move,” Lawrie said. “I’m supposed to use my calves and legs, and if it puts me on the outside it stretches the Achilles, all the way up the chain so things aren’t working how they are supposed to [work].” And he’s correct. When orthotics alter your body and its movements in an unnatural manner, you see a chain reaction of effects, including unhealthy forms of stretching and stress may be placed on structures that cannot tolerate that degree of stress, resulting in additional injury. Lawrie added, “…you compensate, and once that happens you’re waiting for the bomb to go off.”

He didn’t blame anyone for the mishap, nor did he fault anyone for their failure in determining the root cause of his issues. “It’s not anyone’s fault,” he said. “It’s one of those things that everyone is trying to find the X on the map to try to find the treasure.” He added, “It was kind of just frustrating. I’m trying to put myself in the best position, and I went the opposite way as soon as I put [the orthotics] in my shoes.”

Since he discontinued using the orthotics, Lawrie has reported a physical improvement. He has sought out acupuncture and deep tissue treatments to promote realignment and to relieve the lingering pain.

Are Orthotics Right For You?

Numerous studies have shown that orthotics can help with a myriad of musculoskeletal pathologies, including functional ankle instability. But for patients with other diagnoses, such as a condition known as functional flat foot, the use of orthotics is not so straightforward. According to researchers, “Studies suggest that arch height directly affects excessive motion, but that controlling dynamic balance may require a more tailored approach.” As the NY Times has suggested, there is still much to learn about how orthotics may or may not work. It is also important to note that even the best orthotics need to be refurbished and replaced periodically.

At The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine, we may recommend orthotics for certain conditions. Our NYC sports doctors can custom fit and fabricate right here in our Manhattan and White Plains offices. However, we believe in diagnostic testing to determine the root cause and extent of your injuries before we prescribe orthotics or any other course of treatment or therapy. We also ask our patients to return after a few months to ensure that the orthotics are working for them. Contact The Center for Podiatric Care & Sports Medicine if you are looking for the best possible foot and ankle treatment in NYC. We would love to meet you for an in-office consultation, so we invite you to schedule an appointment online.

If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.