When you think about it, since every foot is unique it's amazing that shoes that fit well and support your movements can be mass-produced to satisfy so many. The truth is, though, that only about one person in four has a normal running pattern. The rest have feet that either roll in too much or not enough when their heels hit the ground. Shoe manufacturers cater to over- and underpronators, but such runners are still more susceptible to injury.
It wasn't too long ago that if you suffered a foot-related injury you had to go to a sports podiatrist and have a pair of prescription orthotics custom made for your feet. Not always an insurance-covered expense, orthotics could cost several hundred dollars. Though definitely worth it for those passionate about running, this solution could be potentially discouraging or even a last straw for those struggling with the sport.
What is an orthotic?
An orthotic is a piece of custom-designed, molded material that is inserted into shoes to compensate for the wearer's biomechanical inefficiencies.
Today, runners can try to reduce injury as a result of their imperfect strides by supplementing their running shoes with over-the-counter, orthotic-like arch supports, such as Superfeet®. Certainly superior to foam-cushioned insoles, these inserts are designed to provide shock absorption while compensating for pronation and other irregularities.
It's important to speak with someone knowledgeable about biomechanics and running shoes before simply ditching the sock liner of your new shoes and putting in an over-the-counter orthotic you think will help. In fact, without proper understanding of its purpose, your use of an orthotic may increase your risk of injury.