Pronation is a normal part of ambulation. As you walk or run, your foot rolls so as to distribute your weight and the force of impact across the sole of your foot. In normal pronation, your foot would roll inward by about 15%. It would come in contact with the ground from heel to toes with slight space for your arch and would absorb and support your weight evenly.
Good pronation is key to painless and problem-free walking and running. When you pronate correctly, your foot rolls smoothly and you push off from the entire front part of your foot in an even manner at the end of the roll.
Unfortunately, not all runners pronate smoothly and evenly. A number of things can affect pronation. Arch height is one very important factor in determining whether a walker or runner underpronates, pronates normally or overpronates.
People who have an average arch typically pronate normally. Those who are flat-footed or have very low arches usually overpronate (aka: hyper-pronate), and this can cause walking and running related injuries. Those with very high arches underpronate or supinate.
In this article, we will focus on overpronation. We will explain the importance of proper motion control, padding and support in men’s and women’s running shoes. We will make wise recommendations in some of the best stability running shoes for overpronation. Read on to learn more.
How Does Overpronation Look?
In overpronation, as in normal pronation, the heel touches the ground first; however, instead of rolling smoothly forward, a walker or runner who overpronates experiences an exaggerated inward rolling. This phenomenon causes the ankles and feet to become stressed while attempting to stabilize the body. This asymmetrical ambulation leads to inefficient shock absorption.
As the foot rolls forward, the stress of the final push-off falls mainly to the big toes rather than being spread across all five toes. This situation should be avoided as it can eventually lead to a very painful condition called Hallux Limitus (limited range-of-motion of the big toe). This can subsequently lead to a debilitating condition known as Hallux Rigidus, which is even more painful and involves complete inability to move or flex the big toe.
Our Top Picks In Stability Shoes for Overpronation
Here we offer a carefully curated list of some of the best choices in shoes for runners who experience overpronation. Note that ASICS shoes are among the cream of the crop on this list. You may find it interesting to know that ASICS stores provide a very thorough gait analysis as part of their fitting service. You may find it well worth your while to seek out a store for a proper fitting before making your final choice and purchase. Taking this extra step will provide you with valuable information that you can use when ordering ASICS shoes online.
Overpronation is something that can be aided and corrected quite easily with the right support and fit in our shoes but if it is left too long then the problem can lead to a series of other foot complaints – such as Plantar Fasciitis – and sufferers end up requiring more from their orthotic shoes than a simple piece of arch support. The popular running shoe styles in 2017 for overpronators, that are highlighted below all place heavy emphasis on motion control and/or arch support to aid and correct the overpronating foot but from there they can differ greatly in the other supportive features for additional compliants, the comfort features that make them desirable sports shoes and the style.
ASICS GT 1000 6
Sacouny Omni 15
ASICS GT 2000 5
NIKE Lunarglide 8
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17
Hoka One One Gaviota
Mizuno Wave Horizon
Nike Air Zoom Structure 19
New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo
Altra Provision 3
Overpronation Can Lead To A Number Of Painful Injuries
Pain and injury to the big toes is not the only problem caused by overpronation. Excessive pronation can lead to a wide variety of overuse injuries to the joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons of the hips and legs. Overpronation causes the entire leg to rotate inward in an exaggerated manner. This can cause overall stress to the lower limbs.
The excessive stress caused by the uneven distribution of weight and haphazard shock absorption can also cause problems such as:
- Anterior Compartment Syndrome
- Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome
- Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome
- Achilles Tendonitis
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Runner’s Knee
- Shin Splints
These problems can significantly interfere with your ability to walk, run and engage in exercise. Overall, unaddressed overpronation can lead to a decline in your health and general physical condition.
What Can Be Done?
Begin by understanding that pronation is a natural part of movement and there are many proactive measures you can take to guide and mold your pronation to prevent injury and enjoy comfortable, efficient, effective walking, running and general exercise.
First, you must determine your level of pronation. You can do this in a number of ways both at home and through formal testing.
- Look at your feet. You probably already have some idea of whether or not you are flat-footed. If you don’t see an arch in your foot, there probably isn’t one! If your arch appears to be abnormally high, it probably is. You can determine more exact degrees of pronation through some simple at-home tests and a number of sophisticated professional diagnostic tests.
- Look at your footprint. One very easy way to determine whether you are flat-footed, have a normal arch or have a very high arch is to look at your wet footprint on a dry surface. If you see no gap for the arch, you are flat-footed. If you see a moderate gap for the arch, you probably have a normal or neutral arch. If your footprint only shows your forefoot, the outer edge of your foot and your heel with a very large gap for the arch, you probably have high arches.
- Look at your shoes. Another simple, at-home evaluation you can perform involves examining the soles of your shoes for wear. When you take note of the most worn areas of the soles of your existing shoes, you can get a good idea of the areas in which you need the most cushioning and support.
- Supination: If you tend to underpronate (supinate) you will find that the outer edges of your shoes are the most worn. You will also notice that if you set your shoes on a tabletop they will tend to tilt outward slightly. This means that you should look for highly cushioned running shoes designed for underpronators. Very often, neutral shoes are a good choice.
- Neutral Pronation: If you have neutral or normal arches and pronate naturally, you will see that the soles of your shoes are worn in an “S” pattern from big toe to heel. When you set your worn shoes on a tabletop, you will not see any tilt. This means you can wear a wide variety of shoes, but shopping for shoes designed for neutral pronation is your best bet.
- Overpronation: If you overpronate, you will see that the surface of the sole of your shoe that corresponds with your big toe, the inner edge of the shoe and the inner heel is most worn. When you set your shoes on a tabletop, you will see that they tilt inward. This means that you need running shoes designed for overpronation.
- Get professional testing and analysis.
- Gait Analysis: Another method of determining your degree of pronation is to take a gait analysis test. In this method, a professional such as a podiatrist, physical therapist or trainer at a shoe store specializing in exercise shoes will take a video of your gait as your walk and run on a treadmill. The expert will slow down the video and watch it with you in order to analyze your level of pronation. Working together, you can then choose the right type of walking, running and exercise shoes to suit your needs.
- 3D Foot Mapping: In addition to simply viewing the video of your gait, some specialists use a technique called 3D Foot Mapping. To do this, they use micro-cameras and lasers to produce a very detailed, three-dimensional image of your foot. This provides a very clear picture of various aspects of the structure of your feet, heels and ankles. It helps take into account variables such as old injuries, the alignment of your Achilles tendon with the rest of your foot and more.
- Force Plate Analysis: This technique may be used by podiatrists to evaluate and analyze balance, gait and pronation. A Force Plate Assessment provides a wealth of information to clinicians. A force plate is a professional measuring instrument that reflects the amount of reaction force generated when you move across a very sensitive mat, which records foot motion and pressure distribution as your foot comes in contact with it. This helps determine your arch height and level of pronation along with an array of other valuable information regarding your gait.
What Will You Learn From Testing & Analysis?
Formal testing and analysis combined with consultation with your podiatrist or sports medicine specialist can help settle exactly what sort of arch and gait you have. It can help you get a very clear idea of how you pronate and what sort of footwear will suit you best.
1. High Arch: People with very high arches typically have problems with underpronation. This means that as they walk or run, the outer side of the foot bears the most weight and impact with the ground. This causes very poor shock absorption and a great deal of pressure on the smaller toes. This can lead to problems such as ankle strain, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Shoes that provide a great deal of cushioning and good arch support are recommended for underpronators (supinators).
2. Neutral Arch: People who have neutral or normal arches experience normal pronation which distributes weight and absorbs shock evenly. This does not mean that they never experience exercise related injuries, but they are far less likely to have problems than men and women who have either high or low arches. Good cushioning and proper support are still recommended for runners with normal pronation patterns, but they do typically have a lot more choices in footwear than runners who have special considerations.
3. Flat Feet or Low Arch: People who have flat feet tend to experience an extreme inward roll of the foot when walking or running. While they start the stride by striking the outer edge of the heel to the ground in a normal fashion, the foot rolls inward as the stride progresses and ends up pushing off from the big toe. This puts a great deal of weight and stress on the inner part of the ball of the foot and on the big toe joint.
Injuries especially associated with this problem include heel spurs, shin splints, bunions and plantar fasciitis. To avoid these injuries, men and women with flat feet or very low arches should seek out very supportive, well-structured, shoes that provide ample cushioning.
With a complete understanding of your degree of pronation, you can make a wise and informed choice in running shoes. If you have performed some of the evaluation steps we have mentioned so far and found that you overpronate, read on for valuable information regarding the best stability running shoes to address overpronation.
What To Look For In Stability Running Shoes Designed For Overpronation
A well-designed stability running shoe will help to distribute your weight and the impact of ambulation more evenly and effectively. In addition to stability, the very best of these shoes provide very structured cushioning and maximum support. A good overpronation running shoe should have the following qualities:
- Medial post support that may extend through the heel
- Semi-curved or straight last (sole surface)
- Firm midsoles for good arch support
- Extra cushioning for motion control
Medial support and firm midsoles consist of a thicker, harder foam structure along the inner area of the sole, especially at the arch. This structuring helps prevent the foot from rolling inward and flattening the sole of the shoe.
The term “last” refers to the shape of the sole of the shoe. To help support the inner portion of your foot and prevent rolling inward, seek shoes with a “straight last”. This means that the sole should be fairly straight from toe to heel or just slightly curved. An exaggerated “C” shape is considered a “curved last”. Shoes with this shape of sole provide less support for the arches and inner portion of the foot.
A shoe with a straight or slightly curved last will provide more structure. Added cushioning will provide greater protection and motion control. You will find that this type of shoe is a bit heavier; however, for the amount of comfort they provide for flat feet the added weight is worth is a small trade-off.