A new study has found that using cushioned shoe inserts isn’t enough to prevent injury, but wearing orthotics may help. Orthotics are modeled to a person’s foot and were shown in the study to be more successful in reducing injury compared to store-bought cushioned shoe inserts.
Review author Daniel Bonanno explained, “There appears to be little merit in using shock-absorbing insoles for the prevention of injury, while there is some evidence that foot [orthotics] are effective for the prevention of some injuries like stress fractures and shin pain.”
Bonanno did explain that the studies which were reviewed weren’t that reliable and so cushioned inserts may offer some benefit but not as well as custom-made orthotics. He continued, “Given that the majority of studies included in our review weren’t well-designed trials, better-quality research on this topic is needed to better inform consumers and clinicians as to whether foot [orthotics] or shock-absorbing insoles can be used to decrease injury risk.”
Although cushioned inserts may absorb shock they do not offer as great a support to the foot’s arch as a custom orthotic would. The combination of arch support and a cushioned sole offers greater benefits in reducing the risk of injury.
For individuals who only partake in mild to moderate activity, investing in orthotics may not be necessary. For those who partake in more physical activity or for those who train for events, investing in orthotics can greatly reduce the risk of injury and also ensure improved training results.
Orthotics were found to prevent overall injuries including shin splints and stress fractures. Shock-absorbing inserts did not offer the same benefits. Overall injury reduction was 28 percent in orthotics and stress fracture was reduced by 41 percent.
The findings were published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.