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Close Look at Shoe Inserts Raises a Welter of Doubts

"Orthotics" is the name for the shoe inserts many athletes use in an attempt to prevent injuries. But analysis shows that, while shoe inserts or orthotics could theoretically be helpful as a short-term method of preventing injury, it is not entirely clear how to make inserts that work.

The notion that orthotics correct mechanical-alignment problems does not hold up to study. However, orthotists argue that this does not take into account the benefits that patients perceive; according to them, it does make patients feel better.

According to the New York Times:

"... [W]hat ... do orthotics actually do? They turn out to have little effect on kinematics -- the actual movement of the skeleton during a run. But they can have large effects on muscles and joints, often making muscles work as much as 50 percent harder for the same movement and increasing stress on joints by a similar amount. As for 'corrective' orthotics ... they do not correct so much as lead to a reduction in muscle strength."

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