Dr. Scholl's Active Series Insoles
About $19.99 at most major retail pharmacies and supermarkets
The pitch: "Reduces shock by 40%. Designed with Triple Zone protection for your ball of foot, arch, and heel. Helps relieve and prevent pain from shin splints, runner's knee and plantar fasciitis."
The skinny: There's a dirty little secret in the running shoe industry. All these companies making the latest, greatest, lightest and most supportive shoes available don't spend squat on the insert. That's because they assume runners will rip out their flimsy foot filler and invest in a good insert or orthotic.
This becomes obvious for most everyone able to build mileage – say, 15 miles or more a week. Their dogs will wear out without a good insert, most of which can cost $40 or more for a pair.
That's been the pricy reality until Dr. Scholl's new Active Series insoles entered the market. They've been vigorously promoting their option – offering $5 off coupons in the Sunday paper and online -- making it hard to not try out a pair.
And it is a decent insert. The Active Series provides a good cushion for feet that get a repeated pounding while running. It's definitely thicker at the sore spots: the ball of the foot and heel in particular. The pain I've had with a lingering case of plantar fasciitis was not aggravated by the insert.
But know that this product is not on par with top-of-the-line running inserts such as Superfeet, which use plastic, not cushions, to help protect the foot. The Active Series inserts are more akin to Dr. Scholl's mainstream products. They have the same squishy feel.
Also, unless the insert fits perfectly within the shoe, there may be a slight squeak to your cadence.
Dr. Scholl's clearly is aiming at a broad audience. For example, it promotes the SweatMax foot odor control, something most runners I know are not concerned about. The whole body stinks after a long Saturday-morning run. Why wouldn't my feet?
Still, moderate distance runners likely will be satisfied with the comfort and support the Dr. Scholl's insert offers. It's definitely an enormous improvement over what comes with your shoes.