The Myth of Over-Pronation

by Chris McClung

For over 30 years, the running shoe industry has put you in shoes based almost exclusively on one single variable – pronation. We are here to say that the industry’s concept of pronation, the need to correct it, and therefore shoe fitting is utterly and completely wrong. Further, the resulting technologies, such as the “post,” designed to “correct” this mythical, biomechanical fault of over-pronation are unnatural, inefficient, and likely the cause of more issues than they were designed to fix.

In fact, there is no such thing as over-pronation.

There, I said it.

Pause. Breathe. [Duck].

Since some of you might be reacting as people did when Nietzsche declared, “God is dead,” I’ll take a minute while you compose yourself, change your pants, or unfurl yourself from the fetal position clutching your Runner’s World shoe guide.

First, a few disclaimers:

1. I am not a scientist and this is not intended to be a science paper. This is just a conversation starter designed to promote discussion and encourage change in the industry’s concept of fitting so that you end up happier in your shoes and therefore happier with your running.

2. We are still learning too. Even though the degree of pronation has only been a small part of our fitting philosophy, the term “over-pronation” has been and still is embedded in our vernacular. With this blog, we are taking a stand against the use of the word and making a shift in our philosophy. This updated perspective has been honed through the input of scientific studies and with the experience of collectively fitting thousands of runners in our store over the last 5+ years. Many of these runners also train with us, providing a feedback loop and level of accountability for perfecting the fit that few stores have. This is just the tip of the iceberg on this discussion, and I am happy to discuss further with anyone interested. My email is at the end of this blog. In addition, we are “putting our money where our mouth is” with the Rogue Shoe Challenge, discussed below.

But first, let’s back up.

What is pronation?

Pronation is essentially the rolling inward of the foot as it comes into contact with the ground through each step. Most runners (or about 98% of you) pronate, generally landing on the outside of the heel as the foot contacts the ground and then rolling inward from the heel strike to toe off. The other 2% of runners supinate, rolling from the inside/out instead of outside/in. Those of us who pronate all pronate to different degrees depending on how the feet, ankles and legs work together. Beyond the mechanics of it, pronation is simply the body’s way of dissipating the forces associated with each foot strike. Without pronation, which spreads the load of ground contact over many milliseconds (instead of one) and over more muscles and tendons and bones, you would likely break your ankle when you hit the ground with one an intense thud.

f132425For those not familiar with the term pronation, you might be familiar with terms related to shoes and pronation such as “motion control”, “stability,” and “neutral cushioned.” The terms motion control and stability are typically associated with the word “over-pronation” or a foot that is supposedly pronating too much and needs correction. According to the running shoe industry, “over-pronation” is a biomechanical affliction evident when the foot/ankle rolls inward past the vertical line created by your leg when standing.

Most of us have seen such “over-pronation” in action, likely played back to us in slow-motion after running on a fancy, camera-equipped treadmill at your local running store or marathon expo. When we see it, we tend to cringe because we love symmetry, and we can’t help but want to correct or align anything that’s not symmetric. And, in this case, because we also love and are enamored by technology, often at the expense of validity.

But, there are two problems here:

1. The term “over-pronating” implies that there is a standard line over which “normal” pronation becomes “over.” But, who created that standard? If you look, you won’t find an answer. I submit that the line was created in the 1970s by our need for visual symmetry and by what has become millions of marketing dollars spent to sell you shoes, not by any true scientific definition of how the foot and ankle should work. What if those who pronate more than average have a greater need for force dissipation than others, a need that shouldn’t be hindered but rather facilitated? What if there is nothing to correct at all?

2. There is no scientific link to so-called “over-pronation” and injury. You can find studies like this one or even this one from a running shoe company itself that dispel the myth that “over-pronation” causes injury. As a coach, I deal with injured runners daily, none of whom have had injuries caused by pronating too much. In fact, I challenge anyone to name one single injury caused by this “dreaded” affliction. Not Plantar Fasciitis… that’s caused by tight or weak lower legs/calves. Not Runner’s Knee…. weak hips/ankles. Not shin splits… overuse or tight/weak shins/calves. Not IT band syndrome… instability/weakness in the hips and core. And the list could go on. In fact, as this article from Running Times points out, most of the issues that keep you from running start well above the feet.

Now many of you might say “But Chris, if it wasn’t for my trusted, high stability Brooks Adrenalines, I wouldn’t be able to run.” That might be true. I submit, however, that one of two things is possible in your case. Either a) you are responding favorably to something in the shoe, such as it’s relatively stiffness, that has nothing to do with the “post” or the perceived correction of “over-pronation;” or, b) you would actually be happier in something else and just don’t know it.

Gayle-BarronSo, if there is no such thing as over-pronation and if excessive pronation doesn’t cause injury, then how did we get here? One word: marketing. In marketing, you simplify the world to tell a story, a story that is easy to understand and that ultimately sells the product you want to sell – lots of it. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s, when running shoes were becoming a thing during the jogging boom, the shoe companies latched on to this singular variable because it was easy to understand, easy to develop a fitting philosophy around, and ultimately easy to sell. Then, an assault on “over-pronation” began as if it was an epidemic. Shoes were developed around it, the gloriously hard and dense foam “post” was invented to correct it, running stores were opened to preach it, and you were educated about it with everything from articles in Runner’s World to fun at-home wet-foot tests.

Now, I am embarrassed to say that you/I/we have been sold a truckload of bulls**t. I am embarrassed because I am the co-owner of a running store and am proud of the expertise that we provide. And, even though our fitting philosophy is different and our long-established ten commandments of shoe fitting mention nothing about pronation, our credibility is tied to the credibility of our peers and the shoe companies that work with us.

“Over-pronation” is not a thing and correcting it does more harm that good, inhibiting natural motion instead of facilitating it, like putting your foot into a cast with a brick underneath it. There are so many other variables that are important in shoe fitting – the relative flexibility/stiffness of the shoe, the cushioning, the weight, how it fits/feels, the way the upper hugs your foot, or the relative heel to toe differential (aka “drop”). I don’t even like to call it “shoe fitting” because that makes it about the shoe. It’s really about making your feet happy and allowing them, with your body, to move in a natural and efficient way so that you run free and effortlessly.


So, humbly, we take a stand for change by declaring, “over-pronation is dead” and by issuing a challenge to you. For anyone currently running in the chains of a posted shoe (see list below), we challenge you to let us fit you in a new, neutral shoe without the so-called correction.

If you aren’t happier and injury free with the new pair after 30 days (even if you run them ragged), come in for a full refund or exchange with no questions asked. And, on top of that, if you aren’t happy, we will throw in a $25 gift card to spend on anything else in the store as our way of putting our money where my mouth is. Take the Rogue Shoe Challenge. If you don’t live in Austin and can’t come see us in person, then we recommend shopping for “neutral” shoes with our online retail partner with a generous return policy: Road Runner Sports. We dare you to be happier on your feet!

This challenge will run through June 30 at both Rogue Running locations. The shoes eligible for the challenge include:

Asics GT-2000

Asics Kayano

Asics DS-Trainer

Brooks Adrenaline

Brooks Transcend (sorry Brooks, but those “guiderails” are just a 360 degree post)

Brooks Ravenna

Brooks Beast

Saucony Guide

Saucony Hurricane

Saucony Omni

Nike Structure Triax

Nike Lunar Eclipse

Adidas Sequence

Adidas Salvation

New Balance 860

New Balance 1260

Mizuno Wave Nirvana

Mizuno Wave Alchemy


Dr. Spears and Sports Performance International (SPI), Austin Fit Magazine’s #1 Sports Doctor of 2013, are now putting their money and reputation on the line with us in the Rogue Shoe Challenge. For those who might be wary of injury, SPI is confident in our shoe fitting perspective and is now guaranteeing the challenge as well. If you get injured while attempting the Rogue Shoe Challenge, SPI will provide you with FREE injury consultation and physical therapy to resolve the issue. So, you are now officially out of excuses to drop the “post” and liberate your feet!
Here is the fine print for those who also want the injury guarantee:
– You must be fitted during the weekly injury clinic with Dr. Spears at Rogue DT (Wednesday from 4-6 pm) so that we can collaborate with him on any special issues to address with the fitting.
– You must check-in with us at the first sign of an issue, so that we can proactively manage it.
– The injury must clearly be tied to the change in shoes. For example, any injury gained from otherwise ill-advised moves like doubling your mileage from one week to the next or doing some fancy parkour trick off the Pfluger bridge is on you!


Screen shot 2013-06-24 at 2.46.38 PMChris McClung heads up all things retail at Rogue Running, and currently coaches The Morning Show, a group for half marathoners and marathoners alike. He can be reached at

96 thoughts on “The Myth of Over-Pronation

  1. So “over-pronation” is bogus thus any type of “posted” shoe is wrong. In your opinion the overriding factor is how the shoe feels on the foot and performs underfoot and “neutral” shoes are the only type of shoe that can deliver this. So, what if the runner feels most comfortable and most natural running in “the chains of a posted shoe?” The massive success of shoes like the Brooks Adrenaline, Asics GT 2000, and the Saucony Guide are a testament to fit, ride, and a sense of natural balanced motion for a large number of people. Is this high level of customer satisfaction (i.e. comfortable, injury free running) simply brainwashing due to “marketing” gimmicks? I don’t think so. Ok, let’s go with excessive pronation doesn’t contribute to running related injuries, I’m one to believe there is a correlation is some people, can’t a “posted” shoe not balance or support a runners foot strike in a way that positively influences the weaknesses in a runners biomechanics (weak hips, tight calves etc.)? As someone who has run in more shoes than I could ever remember and has several nagging structural deficiencies, I do benefit from a moderate amount of support in my running footwear as many years and miles of experimentation have proven. To totally dismiss supportive footwear (guidance, stability, motion control) and take a one size fits all approach, neutral shoes today, tomorrow, and forever, is too footwear centric and not focused enough on the needs of the individual runner.

    • I appreciate the comment. If you live in Austin, you might have fun with our challenge! One clarification: the shoe industry invented those 3 categories: motion control, stability and neutral based on this concept of correcting pronation. I actually believe that this is a gross over-simplification. It is much more complicated than that. Perhaps, it is better to say that our challenge is focused on non-posted shoes of which there are many, many variables that differentiate one shoe from the other, allowing you to tailor the fit to the individual runner. I listed those above – relative firmness or flexibility of the shoe, relative cushioning, weight, heel-toe drop, upper fit, etc. So, what we are talking about is not even close to one-size-fits-all if you consider all of those variables within the fit (even within the so-called “neutral” category.

      And, in terms of the success of shoe like the Adrenaline, etc. I never said that it wasn’t possible to be comfortable in a shoe like that. I just believe that I could make you happier running in something else and would love to try if you stop in!

      • Bryan: Thanks for sharing the article. I saw that one as well. One nuance: I don’t like the word comfortable in this context, b/c in our culture, comfort generally means soft and plush, which in many cases can be very bad for your feet. We prefer to use the language – “feels natural” or “disappears when you put in on” – which seems to be a better guide for most people.

  2. Good read Chris. I would offer a couple side points in my experience with running mechanics. Firstly, I agree with a lot of what you have to say about the “over-diagnosis”, so to speak, of over-pronation and therefore, medial posting in the shoe.

    That said, I have found extreme cases of over-pronation to be a lack of structural integrity in the foot’s arch. This “collapsing effect” due to the weakness, or sometimes a structural abnormality, as well as flat feet, can cause a buckling of the knee, allowing it to fall inward during weight bearing. This causes obvious problems up the kinetic chain. Core and hip strength can potentially help in keeping the knee from falling inward to a point, but that’s theoretical, I haven’t had hands on success using core/hip strengthening on its own. The reason I find that such a large percentage of runners are over-pronating, is the “over-stride epidemic”, or use of a walking gait while running. When the foot lands in front of the center of mass, it increases the contact time, increasing the time the body has to work to find stability. If the heel comes into contact first, by design, the ankle is a “loose adapter”, meaning the ankle isn’t locked the same way as when we assume an athletic position. The loose adapter allows us to feel the changes in the ground as we walk, and supinate or pronate as needed to adjust to the changes underfoot. In the walking gait, the body is not prepared for high speeds or impacts. This is why there is a clear distinction in human mechanics between the walking gait and the running gait. Humans have a completely different set of mechanical operations that allow us to haul ass!

    So my point is this, on the presumption that the very act of running is by nature an athletic task, if you get the runner into an athletic posture, on the balls of the feet during landing and takeoff, there is no loose adapter, the ankle is locked and the foot operates as a spring mechanism, storing and returning energy (ie: elastic recoil), along with the entire leg and body. In 99% of runners that I put through form clinics, this simply “happens” on its own when I take them out of their shoes and have them run on a hard surface.

    I know this is a lot to take in for people, and I will have lost some already, but the gospel, from my perspective, is: body position. Get the body into the position it needs to be in for an inherently explosive activity like running. Not enough runners consider it to be an explosive activity, as they may not be very fast. A “laziness of mind” is what follows as the runner isn’t preparing their self for the appropriate attention and proprioceptive awareness that is necessary to tackle the task of effective, safe running mechanics. Too many people want a quick, easy fix and would rather be reactive than proactive when it comes to injury. The long and short is that a mechanics “education” is what your 98% of pronators need. The posting will help some, but it is a “cast”, not a fix, and neutral shoe won’t help on its own either.

    We all see people everyday, landing with a locked-out knee, over-extended in front of their body, landing hard on the heel, bracing and wincing with the impact and wondering “Why haven’t these Vibrams fixed my running? My knees and lower back still hurt!” Surprised? Nope. Luckily humans have lifelong brain plasticity, allowing us to learn new things until the day we die, including movement patterns and gross motor skills… We just have to teach them how. My own study in mechanics brought me from a plateau of multiple 2:42 marathons, down to 2:23 and still getting faster. There are no accidents, just how much one is willing to learn and apply… Let’s see how many runners we can make better!

    Love the conversation Chris, thanks for posting!


    • Love it Blue! Thanks for contributing to the discussion. And, I completely agree with you that the body (strength, position and form) is more important in the overall equation. Nirvana is reached when the shoe gets completely “out of the way” and lets the body do its work!

  3. So., as a person with bunions, I wholeheartedly disagree with you. Did you talk to a podiatrist before making this statement implying this condition is mythical: “this mythical, biomechanical fault of over-pronation” ??
    I say to anyone reading this, two things: running shoes being the least of your worries, overpronation can absolutely be a problem (and I have proof in the form of huge bone growths) and 2nd: please don’t mistake this for expert foot advice; some of us need the stability. Research it on your own before ditching your stability shoe.

    No offense. I buy my running shoes at rogue. The stabilization kind. You know, the type that makes running possible for me, at all. The kind that are only mythically necessary… ;)

    • Tasha: Thanks for the comment and thanks for being a customer. I welcome the debate and hope you will drop in to discuss with me. I would love to engage you further on this topic to discuss your experiences and build them into our thinking. Email me if you are interested, and we can set-up a time ( In spite of my strong perspective, I really do have an open mind to continue to learn/discuss.
      A few things:
      1. This thinking is a part of a 2-year journey, where for 2 years, I haven’t fitted anyone in “stability” shoes in spite of countless hours on the shoe floor. I wanted to see how this philosophy might play out in practice and what feedback I would receive from runners I see, coach and interact with frequently. I have also researched the topic on multiple levels including discussions with medical providers that I trust with running-related issues. I’m not calling myself the end-all expert but this isn’t a conclusion reached lightly, and I look forward to continuing to learn.
      2. In my research on bunions, there seems to be debate and uncertainty about cause vs. effect. Is the bunion caused by your footwear choices or is it a genetic condition that would happen anyway and your footwear choices simply exacerbate the pain/symptoms? I believe the research is inconclusive on that cause/effect debate which might explain why Meagan (who commented below) has had a different experience.
      3. That said, the pain you feel is real no matter the cause, and I am certain that certain footwear choices make your running more palatable than others. My hypothesis (which might be completely wrong, but I would love to test) is that you could be as happy or happier in a firm, “neutral” shoe (that creates a solid, uniform platform) with an accommodating upper that doesn’t put added pressure on the bunion itself. In fact, you would be a perfect candidate for this challenge if you are willing to experiment with me. I would love to include input from your podiatrist as well.

      Thanks for listening (and reading). And, I understand if you don’t want to bother with the debate. Ultimately, they are your feet. We just want to help make them happier. If getting you more of what has worked for you is the answer, then that’s a fine answer too!

      • Absolutely!
        The cause / effect debate is one I’ve been having for a while. Who will ever know, for my personal case. If I wasn’t a runner, would I have the bunions at all? I know two things for sure: shoes absolutely effect my pain level and my knees are included in that “pain”. I actually bought a more minimalist type of shoe in your store because the sales person talked me into it. It was an addida, very lightweight, like a feather (last summer). Within 50-miles, my knees were killing me and my feet were keeping me up at night. So, back to the stability shoe and happy again.
        Meagan, I have zero arch which causes the overpronation in my case, which may be causing the bunions (or they could be purely genetic but I’ve had differing opinions from different doctors – they do all agree that my shoe matters).
        I am always up for debate. Certainly, I’m not the rule, but the shoes are definitely helpful to me, in my experience, so far.

    • I think the reasons people have bunions and must vary with the person. I was born with very mild scoliosis. You would never notice it. But if you look at my shoulders you will see there is a about 1 inch or more in my shoulder height and also where my hip bones twist over. It seems more pronounced in my hips. I was told by a pedorithist ( who has now retired and I can’t reach anymore to get some help and advice) that this caused me to pound down first with my left foot down first because the torsion twist my leg up on one side thus giving almost all my body weight into that foot making the bunion so much worse as was evidenced by the wear on my shoes. The insert was too painful and i couldn’t wear it so i tried overpronation shoes and they do seem to help she said my wheels were unbalanced and i needed to elevation the opposite foot to the same level so the stride weight would be equal. Still my bunion grows to a monster now ..Do you have any advice on shoes I wear 2 plain memory foam inserts in opposing shoe to elevate me but still it kills. Thanks. Betsy

      • Becky: Thank you for the comment. In your case, I would recommend a firm, neutral shoe with a flexible upper to accommodate your bunion. The Wave Rider 18, Pearl Izumi N2, or New Balance 980 would be potential options to try. The latest Nike Pegasus could also work for you.

        If you are in Austin, come see us!

  4. I also have bunions–hideous, grotesque ones that make grown men cry and little children point and stare. However, my bunions have absolutely nothing to do with overpronation as my arch is fairly rigid and my footstrike is completely neutral. If I interpret Tasha’s comment correctly, she is either saying that excessive overpronation caused the bunions or that it exacerbates them. I suppose that is possible, but I definitely don’t think that the two conditions are intrinsically related.

    • Meagan: Thank you for the comment and for contributing to the debate. See above in #2 of my response to Tasha. There is a great “nature vs. nurture” debate out there about bunions which might explain why your bunion experience is a little different. I would love to know what shoes typically work for you.

  5. I can’t speak to the science of pronate/supinate. I purchase the shoe that I find most comfortable Let’s don’t forget the most important thing…do the shoes look really cool!

    • Thanks for the comment Alan! You will like commandment #2 on our 10 commandments of shoe fit: “The RIGHT shoe is the one that FEELS most NATURAL to you. The RIGHT shoe DISAPPEARS when you put it on; all others are for someone else.”

  6. Thanks Chris for your clarifying post! Just one question: I have made your “pancake test” on my Kinvara 4, which I bought last month. Surprisingly, they invert very easily. Is the test applicable to all the shoes or is it more suitable for thicker shoes? Thanks.

    • It is applicable to all shoes if you know the baseline flexibility. You should replace a shoe once it can move about 45 degrees from the baseline. The Kinvara can flex about 45 degrees in new condition, so you would replace once you can flex it 90 degrees under the pancake test.

  7. Hello Chris.. thanks for the discussion.. you are a brave man and I can hear the podiatrists howling all the way from Australia where I live. Just as a point of disclosure, I am a podiatrist.. i have had an athlete-only practice for almost 30 years. I am also a biomechanist and hold research fellowships with the University of Melbourne and Staffordshire University in the UK. Finally, until a year ago, I was in charge of all medical research for the global body of ASICS! The following points I make are hopefully constructive.
    First, let me say you bring up some excellent points and foment a debate that definitely needs to be had. The categorisation of athletic footwear into stability, neutral and cushioning urgently needs to be demolished because it is completely meaningless. That said, I would gently urge you to show caution in terms of absolutes!
    Over pronation most certainly does exist.. it is just that it is not well understood and has been used as a cop out at many levels. For example.. pronation is a description of motion, and if one over pronates ones wrist, it is likely that a wrist sprain will ensue.I am not trying to be smart, because I know you are discussing pronation in relation to the foot, but it is important to have on the table that the term is not exclusive to the foot at all.
    Right, now to the gist of it. I would be interested to know where you got your 98/2 ratio for pronation/supination. I have never heard that before, and to the best of my knowledge this is quite argumentative. Notwithstanding, foot overpronation certainly is a real thing and certainly exists. There is also an over whelming body of evidence in the scientific literature that links it strongly, if not absolutely to injury. As a point of order, I disagree with your assertion that plantar fasciitis (an incorrect term).. ” that’s caused by tight or weak lower legs/calves.”. Well.. no it is not.. there is no evidence for this statement at all. The evidence points to the fact that it is caused by a change of the energy dissipation ratio of the fatty tissue under the heel, and that this has been shown, in multiple randomised controlled trials to be related to BMI and a pronated foot position! In fact, the trials show that a pronated foot position does not cause the issue, but exacerbates it once present.So again.. I gently urge you to reconsider speaking in absolutes! It is now generally agreed that tight or weak calves have nothing to do with the general condition of plantar heel pain, which is not inflammatory and therefore very rarely indeed actual “plantar fasciitis.”
    Now back to the crusty issue of “overpronation”. I believe the point you make is related to the quantity of observed pronation at the joint below the ankle, the subtalar joint.I absolutely agree that this is largely irrelevant and largely uninfluenced by running footwear. However, the real culprit in terms of pronation and injury is the timing of the event. Pronation and supination are normal and essential gait events, each one serving a purpose. They have very specific timing within the gait cycle, and if this timing is altered, it has a very big effect indeed on athlete function. Subtalar joint pronation normally only occurs for about 20-25% of the stance phase of gait, then the foot begins to supinate from that pronated position and eventually ends up actually supinated at take off (propulsion). If pronation occurs at a time when it should not, for example late in the midstance or even propulsive phases of gait, it most certainly is pathologic, most certainly can cause of contribute to injury at pretty much any level, and most certainly by my definition is ‘overpronation”. The model is all about how a tissue is stressed by movement, not how much movement occurs!
    Shoes, and especially shoe geometry can help this… a lot,
    Now it may be that the list you have created works for you and your store, but for some people, I promise you, you are throwing the baby out with the bathwater. For some people, a “a new, neutral shoe without the so-called correction.” will work an absolute treat, and for others, it may well injure them. Just like the barefoot/minimalist movement had its share of injuries, just like people may be injured in a Kayano or an Adrenaline, absolutes rarely work for runners, because the variability of the human organism is just too broad for absolutes.
    Good luck with the challenge, and I hope these comments have provided food for thought.
    Simon Bartold

    • Chris – You made it a point to jump all over the responses of the undereducated people but you just got SCHOOLED by Simon. This was about the best written comment to a blatantly written marketing pitch I’ve ever seen.

      Simon – great job.

      Don’t go buy shoes at Rogue – they’ll just try to shove you into something using an absolute.

      Chris – get an education that involves more than being a coach before making statements like this again in the future. You look foolish.

    • Simon: Thank you for contributing to the discussion. I appreciate your points and the nuances that you bring up. Also, I assure you that this isn’t about absolutes. The shoe industry has made this about absolutes by implying that a posted shoe is the end-all and be-all of fixing running related issues. And alas, we sit here in a day and age where ~60% of runners in specialty are fitted in posted shoes and now they have as many problems as they have ever had. This discussion is about shattering that over-simplification and treating every runner that walks in the door as an individual that cannot be placed in one of 3 categories. I happen to believe (and have tested it for 2 years myself) that happier and healthier runners come when you take the posted shoes out of the mix and focus on other variables in the fitting process.

      One follow-up for you: When you were at Asics, I understand that you helped pioneer some of the research around the fluid axis and how it might (at varying angles) help provide a better concept of stability. If there are some instances where overpronation can occur, as you say, what stability concepts might provide a more direct benefit than the “post?”

      • It is a great question Chris! The biomechanics of the STJ are complex, but it rotates about an axis (which varies from athlete to athlete), which is aligned from the posterior plantar heel to the anterior dorsal midfoot.. so imagine taking an iron rod and driving it through a shoe from the outside bottom, diagonally, to the inside top. then grab the iron rod at each end and “twirl” the rod. this is the subtalar joint axis and it controls the amount of pronation and supination, which we agree are normal and essential movements. BUT.. if the axis is excessively deviated, the foot will pronate more.. maybe a lot more.. and this might be a problem. So the idea is that by manipulating the geometry of the midsole, we should be able to make a difference to this motion.. no added weight.. no counters dual density blah blah.. hope that makes sense!

  8. Hi Chris,
    Good on you mate!
    I previously worked for the biggest 2 Running shoe chains in the UK and more than not sold people neutral shoes with a full explanation why.
    Don’t be surprised if the cynics accuse you of doing this for marketing reasons.
    Anyone if their mind is open and goes through this process day after day in a shop
    environment quickly realises somethings not quite right with it.
    Keep up the good work!

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  10. I have been plagued with shin splints for years and have tried almost everything (compression socks, new shoes, special insoles, seeing a podiatrist and sports medicine doc, etc). I had some relief from them for about 9 months when they came back suddenly, but only in one leg. I looked at some of my race photos and that same leg is also the side that pronates excessively, whereas the other does not pronate as much, and has no problem. I am a medical student, so I have higher-than-average knowledge of human anatomy and biomechanics, and I read that over pronation puts more of the force requirements for plantar flexion on the tibialis posterior, rather than the gastroc’s and soleus (which are more fatigue resistant). I would LOVE to know what to do to get rid of these injuries, but at this point I’m clueless.

    • Bekki: Thank you for the comment. Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or scientist (as I said in the blog), just a coach, running shoe geek, and someone who has previously suffered with shin splints (that led to a stress fracture).

      First of all, if you live in Austin, I would encourage you to come to Dr. Spears, who offers a free injury clinic on Wednesday from 4-6 pm in our downtown store. He is an orthopedist who has spent his lifetime dedicated to fixing overuse injuries in endurance athletes. He knows his stuff and would certainly be another opinion worth getting if you are here.

      If not, then perhaps trying what has worked for me (and others I have coached) on this issue will help you. Perhaps not, but I hope so.

      I have had the most success with a focus on strengthening and stretching the shin muscle (Tibialis anterior). For stretching this muscle, you can do this post-run by sitting on your knees and moving back into this position ( with your toes pointed straight behind you. You may not be able to go back this far at first, just lean back until you feel the stretch. For strengthening, 2 primary exercises:
      a. Toe lifts with a little bit of weight (like a coke can or can of soup). You can do this easily by elevating your leg and then looping over your toe a plastic grocery bag with a coke can or can of soup in it.
      b. Walking on your heels for 30 meters stretches. This one is simple. Just walk on your heels and you will feel that muscle fatigue of the course of 30 meters.

      I recommend that people start with 3 sets of 10/30 meters every other day. Do 10 toe lifts with each leg and then walk for 30 meters on your heels and then repeat 3 times.

      At the same time, I would do the things that help reduce any inflammation that might be there – ice and compression particularly. I had the most success with wrapping my leg lightly with an ace bandage at night on the most painful area instead of an overall compression sock. The more targeted compression seemed to help more with relieving pain in my case.

      I hope this helps and would love to hear how things turn out for you.



  11. Hi Chris,

    Interesting discussion. There is still much to be learned about running bio-mechanics. I do agree that injury prevention and rehabilitation is the most underrated aspect of any running store – so much can be deterred with simple preventative routines. As Simon said above over-pronation (“exaggerated, extended, etc”) is very real, however, the extent that it is a major concern to the well-being of a runner is debatable.

    One flawed aspect in your post is how you are labeling running shoes. You spend a good portion insinuating that what we know about pronation is wrong and that shoe companies are proliferating a myth with their stability and motion control category shoes. Yet in your “Challenge” you have listed a bunch of shoes that are considered stability without any true verification that these shoes are stability other than relating to the marketing of the companies that you’ve previously deemed as feeding customers and running stores “bullsh*t”. In the real world, Chris, there are independent running shoe testers (such as Opis Test – ) who show that some of the shoes you have selected for your “Challenge” are not actually stabilizing shoes (The Ghost 6 is rated higher in stability than the Lunar Eclipse – The Kinvara more stable than both).

    My point is not to say that you’re a loony, or that what you are doing is asinine, but to bring to your attention that if you are going down this rabbit hole don’t stop half-way. Your goal to your community as an owner of a running store is to provide the best information possible to your customers, not the information that you think is correct. All you have proved so far is that there are dissenters to the common dialogue in the running industry. As you’ve stated, you are not a Doctor nor do you have any special qualifications as a scientist or health professional. We should probably leave it that way.

    One other thing: quoting Nietzsche in a discussion about foot bio-mechanics is quite a stretch. If you’re goal is to paint an existentialists view on the topic at hand, then by all means quote away, but if it is to have a lively discussion lets leave the old, dead dudes out of it.

    Cheers friends,

    F. Soup

    • Francis:

      Thanks for the comment. I appreciate this and all contributions to the discussion.

      On your point about labeling… it is not lost on me that there are shoes in the so-called “neutral” category that are more stable than shoes in the “stability” category. For the purposes of the blog, I was using the industry’s convention b/c that’s what I was trying to bust. To tackle the more refined point that you discuss would have created another rabbit hole to chase down. But, I assure you, in our fitting philosophy, we absolutely view certain highly stable neutral shoes with the appropriate skepticism as well.

      And, my apologies to Nietzsche. You are right in that he didn’t deserve to get dragged into this silly discussion.


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  13. @chris amazing article. What is your Opinion of Nike free 5.0 shoes for long distance walking exercise. I can see that you voted for the neutral shoes. What about flexible shoes like Nike free 5.0 that has fair cushioning (transitional / elemental shoes) also. Also your comments on minimalist running shoes and the trend.

    • Thanks for your comment and the kind words! On your questions:

      1. The Free can be a great shoe, BUT it is definitely not for everyone. Because it is soft and highly flexible, I tend to only recommend it to those with highly efficient gaits and really flexible feet. For anyone with more rigid feet or who might need a firmer platform to run efficiently, then it can cause problems.

      2. On minimalism: I don’t tend to like the term b/c it has different meanings for different people. And, with the downfall of barefoot running and Vibram, many in the industry like to say that “minimalism is dead” as a means to justify a movement back to the same old ways of fitting. And, it’s true, most people shouldn’t be running barefoot or the equivalent, but what the barefoot fad has done is forced innovation in the weight in shoes. That is something that is here to stay. No longer must more cushioning equal heavier shoe. And, the traditional cushioned trainers, from the innovative brands, are now 2+ ounces lighter than they used to be with the same functional and cushioning properties (e.g the Mizuno Wave Rider). That to me is where the magic is. 2 ounces per foot is huge for someone taking hundreds and thousands of steps on a run.

      • @chris Thanks for the reply.
        What about power walking… 1 hour walking daily.. Can Nike free 5.0s be recommended for that..? I have heard flexible shoes is what is required for walking.. Yet to know the truth.

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  15. @chris Thanks for the reply.
    What about power walking… 1 hour walking daily.. Can Nike free 5.0s be recommended for that..? I have heard flexible shoes is what is required for walking.. Yet to know the truth.

    • Jack: Generally, the same rules apply for walking and running when it comes to your shoes. I would only recommend the soft, flexible Nike Free to someone with flexible feet (whether for walking or running).

  16. Thanks Chris for being so brave.
    This is definitely a debate worth having. I am from the UK and am appalled by the nonsense that Runners World and so called experts come out with re: shoe selection. They have absolutely no business in propagating this myth based on pseudoscience. I am from a medical background and am taught to question all medical claims, yet egged on by the shoe industry this otherwise excellent publication have continued to let themselves and their readers down.
    I should add that I am not a minimalist runner (switched from Asics 2xxx to Mizuno Wave Riders, when I started to question the benefit of a medial post).
    Once again, thanks

  17. Completely agree with this post, I heavily pronate but have a rather flat arch of my foot which causes any ‘correcting’ shoes to cause pain after the first few miles. Switched to neutral shoes several years ago, no injuries, no pain even running marathon. Plenty of studies to back this up too (remember reading about one performed on 10,000 army recruits in ‘The First 20 Minutes’ which showed no difference to performance or injury prevention).

  18. My wife was mistakenly fitted with some shoes that “corrected ” her and was injured just walking a short distance not even running. She got a double small fracture from walking in these shoes and by the time we realized it was the shoes, it was to late and the damage and pain was bad. They took back the shoe and she now is in Normal shoe and all is back to normal. The Shoe store apologized, but the damage was done and she was out for 4 weeks. From what I have read, more people get injured from fitted shoes than neutral ones. Th

  19. hello,

    forgive me if this comment is ignorant (im new to all this) but it seems like you refer to over pronation specifically in runner (athletes). What about us every day folks who have been diagnosed with over pronation?

    I first started feeling extreme foot pain last summer after walking around for long hours (touring a city in Europe) with flat nike high-top style shoes. I ignored the pain for a while but I couldnt walk much because of it. The situation got worst and worst with months to come until I finally decided to go see a podiatrist. He diagnosed me with overpronation and suggested custom orthotics.

    I’ve tried the best prebuilt orthotics online (sofsole, sole, powermaxx) but all of them only reduced the pain a bit but never fixed it. I’m still waiting on the custom ones to be delivered any time now.

    My question is this: If you say overpronation doesn’t exist, then what exactly am I experiencing here? Are you saying that this immense pain i get from walking, or even standing up for more than 5 minutes, is the result of something entirely different and my podiatrist doesn’t know what he’s doing? I get that there is financial interest to convince me that I need custom orthotics, but surely if they help my situation and take the pain away (the way soooooo many people have successfully done in their online stories) then I do infact have a problem from pronation, and therefore the condition is real?

    Thanks in advance for your reply :)

    • David:

      Not knowing your specific situation, it is hard to say definitively. But, if I were betting on it, I would happily wager that your podiatrist has no idea what he is doing or diagnosing and that you are wasting money on custom orthotics.

      In the case of walking or standing, when the impact of forces from stepping are much smaller than with running, the points I make above are even more true.

      When walking or standing, the foot is just looking for a firm platform on which to feel the ground and provide structure below it. I usually recommend firm and low profile shoes in those cases, while must people walk around in soft, squishy shoes that are the equivalent of sleeping on a mattress that is too soft for your back. Your foot gets annoyed or aggravated b/c it spends the whole day trying to dig itself out of overly squishy foam. That foam feels good when you step into it, but provides no solid platform on which to create a meaningful foundation. Often, off the shelf orthotics are equally squishy and not any better.

      Ultimately, I believe that you could probably fix your problem with a firm, low to the ground shoe that provides plenty of room for your foot to splay at the toes. Now, usually custom orthotics are really firm, so that might help your problem but that has nothing to do with the degree of your pronation. Plus, the shoe option is usually cheaper.

      What shoes might work? In the running category, the Inov195 or New Balance 1600 would be options. A good pair of birkenstocks would also do the same thing.

      I hope this helps. Let me know how things go!


      • Hello Chris,

        Thank you for that information. I get that the podiatrist might be selling me things that might not help my situation but I dont see how my shoes are to blame.

        I wear almost solely sports shoes. Hightops from nike which are standard basketball shoes. DC skate shoes which most skaters wear. I dont see how sports shoes like that can cause an issue in my foot? I’ve been wearing the same shoes all my life without a single problem until recently.

        The fact of the matter is im in pain. Im in pain when i stand, im in even more pain after doing sports (soccer, running, skating, snowboading). The only time the pain fades is if i do soft massages, submerge my feet in hot water, and dont walk too much. Surely that means my feet have some sort of a problem? if its not overpronation then what is it?

        • It’s impossible for me to say since I can’t see your foot or talk to you to know what’s going on. Plus, I’m not a doctor, I’m just a coach and running store owner who has seen lots and lots of these issues over the years. If you lived in Austin, then I would tell you to drop by our store on Wednesday afternoon when we have our free injury clinic with a local doctor who gets these things.

          All I can say is that, if I were to wager on it, then I would wager (even without seeing or talking to you) that it has nothing to do with pronation or the degree to which you pronate. Why? Most of these reasons you read above, but a few others:

          – If overpronation is the problem, then why didn’t it pop up before now? Generally, people’s biomechanics don’t change abruptly, so in theory you have “overpronated” for a long time. Then, why is it suddenly causing you an issue?
          – Also, if overpronation is the problem, then why aren’t you experiencing the problem identically on both feet? Usually, people are pretty symmetrical with their biomechanics, so you should be experiencing the same problem on both feet. Why are you not?

          Also, I’m not actually blaming the shoes specifically. Most overuse injuries arise b/c of a fundamental weakness or imbalance in the muscles, tendons, or ligaments and are usually accompanied with an abrupt change in how those muscles, tendons, or ligaments are used. Likely what happened is that you went from using your foot in a certain way at home to using it in a very different way on your trip. You went from using it to play basketball, skate, soccer, etc to walking and standing for long hours. Those don’t sound like fundamentally different or incompatible uses, but they can be depending on what you body is ready for. Plus, you made the shift in a shoe that was probably old and worn down from hours of basketball and also not originally constructed to be used in that way in the first place. A shoe made for jumping and running is not necessarily good for walking and standing long hours.

          As a result, your foot revolted and broke down in some area of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in it b/c it was suddenly being used in a way that it wasn’t trained for in a shoe that didn’t help at all. Now, you can’t shake the pain b/c everything you do and every time you move it, you are just making it worse rather than addressing the fundamental tissue breakdown that occurred in the first place.

          Unfortunately, most podiatrists (and doctors in general) have no idea how to deal with overuse injuries, however they pop up. Sometimes footwear can help solve the problem, but most of the time, the fix has nothing to do with it. You have to address the inflammation in the tissue itself (if there is any) and then strengthen the area of weakness or imbalance to get to the root cause.

  20. Interesting discussion, I wish I were in Austin. My situation is not the norm, I have a very high arch. It is flexible and collapses causing a late stage pronation/toe off. I was born with my legs twisted an wore braces for my first few years. I now run and am in training for the Big Sur Marathon 26 April. Last few weeks body revolted! Knee pain that has focused into IT band from tight hips. My physical therapist is saying I am get a lot of stress where the tibia meets the femur and was asking about my shoes. I have been running the last 2 years in the saucony mirage 3 (since my last marathon and It band issues trying to get away from the heavy stability shoes).

    Anyway, I definitely have an issue with my feet, but not the traditional issue any suggestions regarding different running shoes. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    • Kristin: From my experience, your PT is asking the wrong question. With issues at the knee joint and above, likely your problem has nothing to do with your feet but rather with strength and stability in the hips/glutes and core muscles. Knee pain manifests b/c your knee picks up the load when your muscles are too weak or imbalanced to do so. I would find a shoe that feels natural (i.e. disappears when you put it on) and not overthink that part, then focus on strength and stability work in the hips/glutes and core muscles, with a particular focus on the glutes (as those are often the real cause in IT band related issues from my experience). Hit that strength work and hit it hard. You should notice a difference with focused work in 2-3 weeks time. And frankly, I would find a new PT to do it. If he/she is blaming the feet/shoes, then you need someone who better understands how the body works.

      Good luck in your journey. I hope you are able to abate the knee issues before Big Sur!

  21. Hi Chris,

    Very interesting to read the debate on this topic. I have had multiple sports injuries around my feet/knees etc and my issues have been ongoing for about 20 years going backwards and forwards from orthotics or not and different types of shoes.

    I have recently decided to never wear orthotics again. I am a severe over pronator with flat feet and used to wear brooks beasts until my podiatrist said no wear orthotics and brooks Dyad 7. I then had even worse issues which I don’t think was the shoe, however once I took the orthotic out(6 months later) I feel that the orthotic has influenced the shoe and I still get pain. My feet feel generally ok, however I notice pain the most on the inside on my knees and lower back.

    I get no pain when I wear simple sandals or bear feet or blundstone work boots which have a heal… why???? My question is what would you recommend as I confused on what shoe to now purchase. I really only like Brooks or Asics. Orthotics I believe cause much of my problems, so they are now out of the equation., The reason I kept going back to orthotics was after time I would start getting pain again, I have now put this down to the shoe simply wearing out.

    Any advice is appreciated and what shoe would you recommend.

    • Matthew: The Brooks addiction is a pretty structured, so I would stay away from that as well. My guess is that the sandals and the work boots better allow your foot to move as it wants too, naturally, vs. being controlled or “stabilized” by the structured shoe or orthotic. Here is what I would recommend:

      Go to a local running store and ask to try on 5-6 pairs of neutral shoes that come in a variety weights, levels of cushioning, and firmness/softness levels. Then, as you try those on, choose the one that feels most natural to you, that disappears when you walk in it. Ultimately, I am learning that your feet don’t lie, so gravitate toward that choice, and it is likely the best for you. For someone who has flatter feet, I generally prefer to fit you in a lighter weight and firmer option b/c it gives the best platform for weaker feet. An option like the Brooks Launch or Asics 33-FA would be examples but there are others as well like the Adidas Adios Boost or Boston Boost or Mizuno Sayonara. That will be a big departure from the Dyad or Addiction even, but I think would make you happier. I would suggest recommend that you start at lower mileage and easy paces when you start in any new shoe and work up based on how you feel.

      Let me know how the journey goes!

  22. Hi Chris,
    Thank you so much for the article, agreeing completely that neutral shoes are the way to go, we can say that Neutral shoes are unstructured compared to the Stabiity or Motion control ones. What about going a notch further and getting an Elemental Shoe which is even more unstructured but allows the feet to move more naturally. I am not referring to the very minimalist shoes like Nike Frees 3.0s or even Vibrams but the ones with natural flexibility with more cushioning like Nike Frees 5.0 and other shoes in its category. Can that be recommended (atleast for long distance walks)

    • Jack: I think much depends on how your foot works. What you describe should work for people with flexible feet. However, I tend to find that people with really rigid feet don’t do well in a really flexible shoe, but they can still do well in a lightweight, low to the ground option with a firmer midsole. You might look at a brand called Skora which I think is another leading brand in trying to match how the foot and body works. Thank you for the comment!

  23. I was a victim of the “over-pronation” scheme. I now believe the foot pain (arches) I was suffering was actually being produced by the shoes that were supposed to correct it. For the last 8 years I have worn only Sanuks–that’s right, for running as well as for everyday wear–and the pain has disappeared completely. For those who don’t know, Sanuks are about as simple a shoe as you can find…flat flip-flop type soles with a cloth upper. Wish I had known back in the day; I might not have had to quit the college cross country team.

  24. Chris,

    Very interesting article. I have cronically flat feet and severe over pronation. I wish I had seen this article earlier – for the last several years (4-5 at least) I’ve worn nothing Brooks and Asics models that you mention on your list (4 of them to be exact). I am never uncomfortable or experience pain when moving around barefoot so I decided to give the Nike Free 5.0 a chance for the last year to see if I could help “naturally” strengthen my feet. I wouldn’t say the shoes hurt but I have been much more prone to shin splints and have noticed soreness that lasts several days of heavy activity in the Nike’s. At first I thought that I would just adjust but never have. I moved from Austin less than 1 month ago so I will not be able to come by your store unfortunately. I hate asking for free advice but I would appreciate anything suggestions you can make that might help!

    • Nick:

      The Free is tough for many people b/c of its flexibility. I truly believe that one of the least known causes of foot issues comes from a mismatch between the shoes flexibility and the foot’s flexibility. Plus, the Free has gotten softer through the years and that provides very little structure under foot which can induce greater fatigue than in a shoe with a firmer platform. It’s the foot’s equivalent of sleeping on a mattress that is too soft for you. Your muscles spend a lot of energy trying to keep itself from sinking too deep in the foam, and it adds a lot of stress and fatigue to the equation.

      If the Free has otherwise worked for you, then I would try something that is similar in weight and cushioning but with a firmer platform under foot. Shoes like the Mizuno Wave Rider, Adidas Boston, or New Balance 980 would fit the bill.

      I hope this helps. If you are ever back in Austin, come see us!


  25. Very interesting topic…

    For the last few years while running both my feet goes completely numb… It makes for a very unpleasant run, because I literally after 3km now, have to stop every 3minutes.

    I am an emergecy medicine doctor and I am quite sure that I develop a sort of tarsal tunnel syndrome while running.. I don’t have any other secondary causes and it is most likely caused by over pronation..

    That said.. I am not an expert on anything that is not an emergency, but this kind of feels like one..

    I’ve been looking online for shoe options and came across this discussion.

    I’ve tried both Nike as well as Asics neutral and cushioned shoes, and was thinking about Brooks for over pronation..

    Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    • I suppose I should focus more on running rehab and technique but buying a shoe sounds so much easier 😂…. I need to get back to my usual 21km…

      • Colette:

        In my experience with people who have numbest issues, it usually results from one of two things. a) The shoe or toe box they are using is too small or not wide enough for their feet (or what their feet require). Getting a larger shoe (sometimes going up a half size helps) with a bigger toe box and plenty of room for your toes to splay might solve the problem.
        Or, b) there is a mismatch between their foot’s flexibility and the shoe’s flexibility. A rigid foot does better in a rigid shoe and a flexible foot does better in a flexible shoe. You can test this by standing with your feet shoulder width apart and then, while keeping your heel and midfoot on the ground, flex your toes to the sky. If they can bend off the ground by 45 degrees or more, then you have a flexible foot. If you have trouble bending the toes up at all without lifting your foot off of the ground, then you have a rigid foot.

        To summarize, I would play with two those variables and see what works.

  26. I’m not sure of any of the validity of either side but I know my feet hurt like hell after a couple miles of just walking. I have completely flat feet and use Kayano’s exclusively now. Is there a better option for me?

    • Jason:

      The Kayano is one of the top shoes in the industry, but we don’t carry it b/c we believe it is over-built and too corrective. It gets in the way of your body’s natural movement.

      In our opinion, flat feet don’t necessarily require a stability shoe. It isn’t about the height of your arch but how it moves and works in conjunction with the rest of your feet and ankles.

      It is hard to say what would be better without seeing you move, but it sounds like you have nothing to lose in trying something else. I would suggest walking into a running store that carries at least 6 major brands. Don’t let them fit you, but rather tell them you want to try a variety of neutral shoes with differing levels of weight, cushioning and midsole firmness. Try on at least 5 options that fit the spectrum within the neutral category and choose the one that feels most natural to you. Choose the one that disappears when you put it on regardless of what logic might tell you. Let your feet decide and then build up gradually from walking to running in those shoes.

      I hope this helps!


  27. Hi Chris
    Your blog made me confused now. I have been using asics gt2xxx models for years as it was always recomended to me for my over-pronating feet.
    I am just about to buy new shoes because I’ve started suffering with shin pain again but this time in one leg only, probably due to old shoes now (2yeas old). So my choice was easy just buy another pair of asics gt2000 but now after reading your interesting blog I am thinking if I shouldn’t try something neutral but lighter and more flexible. The problem I have got Chris, I just can’t afford to buy shoes and hoping that you theory is right and if not buy another pair until I find the suitable one.
    So what would you do if you limited budget like me?
    Tom from Poland

    • Tom:

      First of all, shin pain is usually caused by weakness and imbalance in the lower leg muscles, not the shoe. Although in your case, the age of the shoes could also be contributing. I have personally suffered from shin splints and had the most success with a focus on strengthening and stretching the shin muscle (Tibialis anterior).

      For stretching this muscle, you can do this post-run by sitting on your knees and moving back into this position ( with your toes pointed straight behind you. You may not be able to go back this far at first, just lean back until you feel the stretch.

      For strengthening, 2 primary exercises:
      a. Toe lifts with a little bit of weight (like a coke can or can of soup). You can do this easily by elevating your leg and then looping over your toe a plastic grocery bag with a coke can or can of soup in it.
      b. Walking on your heels for 30 meters stretches. This one is simple. Just walk on your heels and you will feel that muscle fatigue of the course of 30 meters.

      I recommend that people start with 3 sets of 10/30 meters every other day. Do 10 toe lifts with each leg and then walk for 30 meters on your heels and then repeat 3 times.

      At the same time, I would do the things that help reduce any inflammation that might be there – ice and compression particularly. I had the most success with wrapping my leg lightly with an ace bandage at night on the most painful area instead of an overall compression sock. The more targeted compression seemed to help more with relieving pain in my case.

      As it relates to shoes, it is hard to recommend anything definitive without working with you in person. But, here is what I would recommend:

      Go to a local running store and ask to try on 5-6 pairs of neutral shoes that come in a variety weights, levels of cushioning, and firmness/softness levels. Then, as you try those on, choose the one that feels most natural to you, that disappears when you walk in it. Ultimately, I am learning that your feet don’t lie, so gravitate toward that choice, and it is likely the best for you. The Adidas Boston or the Mizuno Wave Rider are two great neutral shoes that are lightweight and have a firm platform that would provide a nice transition from the GT2000, but there are others. Once you pick one, I would recommend that you start at lower mileage and easy paces when you start in any new shoe and work up based on how you feel.

      I hope this helps! Please keep me posted on how it goes.


  28. Hi Chris!
    Very nice writing, and the argument makes complete sense to me.
    Here’s the deal; I’m 24 years old, My main sport (hobby) is soccer. I have a minor knee injury (6 months, healing slowly.) on one leg and a stubborn ankle sprain (3 months) on the other. Physical therapist on my side, doing a pretty good job…
    I am kind of a beginner at running as a regular sporting activity. Whenever I did run, it was back when I lived out of town, running easy trails (5-10 km), sometimes sprinting up hills.
    Now I’ve moved to the city and finding my Salomon Sense Pro to be uncomfortable for urban running. I went to buy Newtons based on pure intuition (Saw a friend run in em, thought they looked HQ, 100% ignorant about shoe types, running techniques, etc…). The running shop dudes told me – No way, you have injuries and you have over-pronation, you need Brooks. The Brooks were OK but something told me this wasn’t the right solution, so I went out empty handed. Being worried about my newly discovered deformity and all, I went online and got caught in the marketing net you described in the article. After trying on like a dozen shoes I bought Kayano 21’s. I got them because they felt the most subtle and least “correcting” stability shoe. On the same day I stumbled across your article. D’oh.
    So now I’m wondering what to do..
    I am a beginner so I am not yet used to a specific style of running. I can easily get used to running forefoot (I used to run barefoot, and in soccer shoes you run forefoot in all running paces).
    Will the Kayanos necessarily get in the way of my body’s natural movement or can they be OK as long as I don’t embrace bad running habits like heel striking ect…?
    Another thing to consider is maybe those shoe salesmen right to some extent, that a minimal shoe on urban surface would be too much for my recovering injuries?.. So far I am happy with the Kayano’s and feel like my knees are too, but reading your article made me think twice about the whole thing.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this,
    Thanks !


    • P.S, Both my injuries were from silly mistakes during a game. I’m not saying every muscle in my body is sufficiently strong, but neither injuries link directly to muscle weakness.
      Knee was hurt from impact (sprinting and then slipping on invisible mud. damn.)
      Ankle was hurt trying to do a semi-acrobatic kick in stoppage time. Totally moronic of me, I know.

      • TD:

        First of all, soccer is the perfect sport for aerobic endurance and working the small stabilizing muscles in the lower legs to keep you healthy. As you say (and other than the acute injuries that sometimes pop up), your body should be sufficiently strong to build a running program pain-free in a neutral shoe.

        The Kayano is highly, highly stable, one of the most stable shoes that is available. It’s so stable that we stopped carrying it about 4 years ago. Since, you have already started running in it, and it’s not hurting you, then I think it’s ok to keep for now. BUT, I would buy a second pair of shoes (lighter weight and neutral to start working into your routine, perhaps running in the alternative pair every other day. Note: it is generally good to alternate shoes anyway.

        To find that shoe, I would follow the advice that I gave the previous comment:
        Go to a local running store and ask to try on 5-6 pairs of neutral shoes that come in a variety weights, levels of cushioning, and firmness/softness levels. Then, as you try those on, choose the one that feels most natural to you, that disappears when you walk in it. Ultimately, I am learning that your feet don’t lie, so gravitate toward that choice, and it is likely the best for you.

        Options that I like: Adidas Boston, Brooks Launch, Mizuno Wave Rider, New Balance Zante, Asics 33-FA. All of those are neutral, weigh 2 ounces or more less than the Kayano, yet have plenty of shoe to protect you from the road.

        Once you find the alternative, start working it in with the Kayano and then gradually increase your mileage in it as it feels good. Your feet should feel very liberated in the lighter option, so I suspect you will make the transition quickly.

        I hope that helps. Good luck in your journey!


  29. Hi Chris,

    This has been a great read, makes me question the ‘fitting’ I had yesterday at a shop in London.
    I was filmed on a treadmill and told that I over-pronate.
    The lady tried me in a pair of Asics Kayano 21s,Brooks Adrenalines, Saucony Hurricanes and a pair of Saucony Omni 13s. She said the best for me were the Omni 13s and they did feel pretty decent but unsure if they are the ones.
    I also tried a pair of Saucony Triumphs but on video, it was easy to see that they offered very little support.
    I’m just looking for a shoe to do between 5-10km runs in just for fitness. I’m an ex rugby player and professional weight lifter, 6ft, 98kg if it makes any difference?


    • Ryan:

      Thank you for the comment!

      I’ve had trained physio therapists who regularly conduct gait analysis tell me that they can not tell bio-mechanical deficiencies with the naked eye, regardless of how slow you play it back. You have to force plates and other sophisticated tools to measure what is going on. So, the running on a treadmill thing is another marketing tool, designed to fool you into thinking something is wrong. If you watch your foot pronate in slow-motion, it’s going to look bad, but who is to say your foot isn’t doing what it is supposed to do in order to dissipate the ground contact forces?

      I would lean toward the Triumph or any other neutral shoe that feels natural to you. If I can’t work with someone directly, this is what I usually recommend:

      Go to a local running store. Don’t let them fit you but rather ask to try on 5-6 pairs of neutral shoes that come in a variety weights, levels of cushioning, and firmness/softness levels. Then, as you try those on, choose the one that feels most natural to you, that disappears when you walk in it. Ultimately, I am learning that your feet don’t lie, so gravitate toward that choice, and it is likely the best for you.

      I hope you find the shoe that works for you, but stay away from any of those stability shoes recommended!


  30. Read a number but not all of the posts. I have to state that over-pronation caused by chronic injury can need support. This is not natural and, in my case, “may” only be corrected by invasive surgery with inherent risks. I’ve tried all sorts of shoes, personalized orthotics and am still unsure what is best. I can feel “okay” for months to years then push myself too hard to suddenly find myself in a heap of hurt.

    In general I do find that supportive shoes help. I currently have GT-2000’s and they seem to aid in proper alignment. I sometimes wear with an orthotic sometimes not. To look at over-pronation as a cause of injury and not the other way round is narrow in focus. Over-pronation can be a real issue needing correction when it is caused by prior injury. In my case it was a sever ankle sprain with tearing etc. followed by three more sever sprains and now chronic issues.

    • Robert:

      I believe you are right to a degree. One thing I have learned from this post and subsequent discussions from it are that “over-pronation” is only a thing when the pronation leads to injury. That said, I believe now that those cases are very rare, much, much more than prescribed, and also rarely should stability shoes be used proactively prior to injury.

      In your case, ankle stability in both directions is probably important given the sprain history, but I would think that the shoes or orthotics are only a bandaid fix. I would bet that a major physical therapy regiment to strengthen the muscles and tendons around the ankle would be much more important for you, likely to follow with a lifetime of strength exercises to keep things in control. I would consult a physical therapist if you haven’t already.


      • Thanks Chris,

        I have seen therapists in the past with minimal if any improvement. My injuries were sports related when in my late teens and early twenties. It was not until my forties that I started to experience real issues. I am going to a physiotherapist for an assessment tomorrow. This therapist was recommend by a friend who is an ex. Olympian and very accomplished power lifter. I am hoping I might have more success this time round.

  31. My orthopedic surgeon advised me over 4 years ago that shoe stores incorrectly pushed the pronation myth. I’ve successfully worn neutral ever since. She is also also an Ironman so has considerable practical experience as well.

  32. i have flat feetw here there is no arch i wear out the outside of the soles. my pt told me its the insoles i been using i been using ahight insole and he said i needed something flat. i went to him becuase i had aproblem eith my calf giving out and they did video with and without insoles an di was better without the now i need anew pair of shoes just dont know which one sto buy. any sugestions would help me out. thanks bob

    • Robert:

      I would recommend something with a firm midsole to provide some structure in lieu of your arches doing so. The Mizuno Wave Rider or Brooks Ghost would be great moderate cushioned options or the Adidas Boston or New Balance Borocay if you are looking for something a little lighter (but still with plenty of cushioning).

      I hope this helps!


  33. What rubbish. I had big calf and foot pain last year – couldn’t get rid of it. Ended up seeing a physio who I thought had lost the plot when he suggested I bought an insole to correct over pronation. I tried it and after about a week all leg/feet problems disappeared. For me it really was a miracle cure – I would never have believed it could be such a simple remedy – insole to raise part of the foot due to over pronation. Not rocket science really so to say over pronation has never caused injury etc in your article above is headline grabbing stuff but a load of bullshit in my view and experience.

    • Paul:

      I am always wary of calling anything a miracle cure because usually there are a number of factors that go into pain going away, and in my experience (covering thousands of fittings), an an off-the-shelf insole rarely ever solves the core problem.

      Four questions:

      – If you over-pronated before the insole intervention, then why didn’t you have problems all of your life? Why did it just pop up last year?

      – Since the insole, have you ever run without it and been pain free? What if you took it out altogether now? What would happen? Does the pain automatically come back?

      – Was your pain only on one side? Humans are remarkably symmetric people and often have similar biomechanics on both feet, but pain most often presents on one side only. If that was true for you and over-pronation was the cause, then why didn’t it present equally on both sides?

      – What did the insole do for you? Did it really change your pronation or did it simply provide a firmer platform to facilitate your body’s movement?

      I don’t doubt your experience, and I appreciate the feedback in this discussion, but my burden for proof requires more data collection. I can also assure you that what I discuss above is no more bullshit than what the shoe companies have been spitting for 30 years about shoe fitting. We had 40 customers take the challenge discussed above and only 1 of them came back unhappy in their new shoes. I’d say that’s sufficient data to say we are on to something, but alas, I can’t convince everyone and don’t need to.

  34. Very interesting article. I have very high arches and have been told I overpronate to a high degree. I have tried many shoes and was happy with my kayano 21 until they ripped my toenails off. A natural running store here in Spain put me in some skechers performance gorun4, and they feel like slippers. Couldn’t be happier and no knee foot or ankle.problems at all, just happier feet!

  35. Chris thank you for this great article and hello from Chattanooga, TN. I woke up this morning determined to find a shoe that would fit my “pronation” needs. I did the famous “wet test” and was alarmed to find out I am flat footed with a very low arch. Even just standing I can see that there is some natural pronation in my stance, but when taking it into consideration with the bigger picture of my body as a whole, it doesn’t look out of place at all. This led me to believe it that maybe I was overthinking it. I am no expert when it comes to shoes, though.

    I am new to taking a shoe purchase seriously. I was always more on the lookout for the best deal rather than the most comfortable shoe. I currently wear the older Reebok RealFlex Strength TR for just around the house and at work (solid concrete floors at work), and I notice that after a couple of hours of walking around my feet specifically hurt around the outer edge of my foot (distal) and my heel. I never seem to have pain in the arch itself or really even much on the ball. When I look at how these shoes wear in the mirror closely I can see that there does appear to be some pronation, but not more than I would say is my natural position standing without shoes on.

    I also have a pair of Merrells that I wear during the winter months and have found them to be more comfortable even though they seem to be a firmer shoe than the Reebok.

    I’m also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical responder (in addition to my day job) and as such a lot of my interest in shoes revolves around durability and that they be waterproof. I know that this is about running shoes more than anything else, but I wanted to ask if you may have input on good shoes that might fit those categories as well. Is there a general way of shopping online or in a store where I can determine if the shoe I’m looking at is neutral? What the firmness of the midsole is? Etc… Of course we all want a shoe that has it all. ;) So what I’m saying is: I’m a complete newbie when it comes to this, but if you could offer any advice I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you sir for the great article and all the best to you in Austin.

    • Thank you for the comment. I fit countless runners with low, bug well structured arches, that have no issues with pronation and have no need for stability shoes. My guess is that you fall into that category if the Merrells are working for you.

      My favorite type of shoe to recommend for those walking or standing is a low, firm shoe. Standing in a soft shoe (like the Reebok) is like sleeping on a soft mattress. Your body spends the entire time trying to pull itself out of the soft padding/foam that it creates a ton of fatigue and soreness (either in your back or your feet). This is also why people love Birkenstocks…. it has that firm corkboard midsole that allows your foot to relax while it does the work.

      A firm shoe also allows your body to feel the ground better and therefore adjust to what is underfoot. I think one of the current trends in footwear that will cause issues is that brands are making shoes softer and softer. They feel good in the store when you initially try, but are hell on your body over time.

      I highly recommend firmer, neutral running options like the Adidas Boston, New Balance Zante (or Vazee Pace), or Mizuno Wave Rider. They are firm and lightweight but with plenty of cushioning that makes them easy to adjust to from whatever your starting point.

      You can easily find these on the website I link to at the bottom of the blog or search on their shoe type filters down the left of the screen (for “neutral”).

      As for your job, you might look into getting a firm, trail specific shoe with a waterproof upper for work. I don’t have a specific recommendation there but there are some great ones from Inov8, Salomon and North Face.

      I hope this helps. Good luck on your journey to happier feet!

  36. Pingback: Gear Diary » Study Confirms the Best Way to Shop for Running Shoes Is Common Sense

  37. Your premise that no correction is needed for overpronators could be as off the mark as the universal need for high correction. It has always seemed clear to me that the concept of ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL is applicable to almost everything in life. Every person is different and that same person is different at different points in their life. I have had severe overpronation since childhood and have always struggled with workouts from running to walking to aerobics classes and anything high impact. I also have a larger body structure and very small ankles and calves. Now, at 58, the mechanics of my foot and ankle have deteriorated to the point where you can actually SEE my feet pronate with every step and fat pads from under my foot have been forced out to the outer sides by my ankles. My physician sent me to a rheumatologist thinking I had some disorder, but the rheumatologist sent me to a podiatrist who made the correct diagnosis. Serious serious problems are in my future and I will be quicker to the walker/wheelchair than those with neutral gaits. I probably need some sort of stability shoe for even just walking. But I’m vain and a woman and those big space boots don’t look good with office suits or little black dinner dresses.

    Sure when I was younger I could spring back from the stress and problems caused by poor foot structure – overpronation – but as you age you make a mess of your foot and ankle with continued high impact activities and shoes without proper support and correction. It is easy for a younger person who DOESN’T HAVE THESE PHYSICAL PROBLEMS yet and/or has never overpronated to give bad advice. You don’t have a clue. So many older people regret their early life shoe choices when they have to hobble around with a walker earlier than others.

    Shoes that may feel comfortable when you put them on in the store can still cause lifelong problems over time. Just like smoking – or cocaine. It may feel wonderful when you are young and first start but if you keep doing it, you can die or live with diseases and misery as you age.

    So Chris, your advice to just put on a pair of shoes and choose what is comfortable does not take into account the critical, long term effects of overpronation, risky foot biomechanics, high impact activity and aging, nor each individual’s unique set of characteristics and needs.

    There is nothing more dangerous that a shoe salesman giving out medical advice!

    I don’t know what the answer for foot health short and longer term is for those of us who overpronate, but it for sure is NOT putting on a pair of shoes and walking around a store with them on and picking the one that feels most comfortable!

    • Donna:

      Thanks for the feedback. A few clarifications:

      1. Our fitting philosophy is more complicated than you have interpreted through my words and far from one-size-fits-all. As I said above: “There are so many other variables that are important in shoe fitting – the relative flexibility/stiffness of the shoe, the cushioning, the weight, how it fits/feels, the way the upper hugs your foot, or the relative heel to toe differential (aka “drop”).” We look at all of those things (and a few others) to hone in options for a given customer, and then use the input they provide from how natural each option feels in order to help them make a final decision.

      2. I have learned through this blog and feedback on it, that overpronation does cause issues/injury in extreme cases like you describe in your feet. I have also learned that those cases are pretty rare in the grand scheme of things, making the current rate of prescribing stability shoes (at over 60%) way, way over-indexed. Plus, I still believe that the “post” or traditional forms of correction aren’t really that helpful in those extreme cases where overpronation causes injury. Rather, it’s important in those cases to collaborate with a medical provider who understands those issues to work on the problem in a holistic approach where shoes in only a small part.

      3. In terms of your dangerous comment, I am not naive to think that I am a doctor or have the credentials to treat medical issues. In cases of extreme issues, I have 2 local medical providers that I trust on this topic, and I am always quick to consult them. The amount of bad shoe and running advice that I have heard from so-called medical providers is beyond staggering, especially when you realize (in talking to the few well-educated and experienced providers that do know what they are doing in this area) that there is no documented training curriculum that teaches this stuff to them. So, I am one voice trying to change lives through shoes. And, judging by the number of happy customer and runners of all ages and types in our community, then we are doing something right. I am also happy to report that we had 40 customers take the challenge discussed above, and only 1 of them came back unhappy in their new shoes.

      Thanks again for your comments. All in all, I am still very convinced that my approach is far better than the prevailing shoe wisdom, but we can agree to disagree on that.


      • Chris, as I stated, while a shoe may feel great, years later you can pay the price. Just like 6″ heels cause destruction in people who wear them that happens insidiously over time, so does wearing shoes without proper support.

        Similarly, younger people may wear the wrong shoes and they can feel great. But when you are older and your feet damaged from wearing these shoes, you feet may feel stressed and tried in any shoe.

        It seems to me that this is an area where there is so little expertise in the world that we all are poorly informed. Even medical professionals and specialists know very little. You get conflicting advice from everyone.

        I don’t see that shoe companies make more money on pronation or other foot issues. Their shoes cost a lot no matter which ones you buy. You’re going to buy whichever is available. So really all the expense of research, design and marketing for pronation likely doesn’t result in a higher level of profit than if a person just buys a high end shoe period.

    • Ha! I love the grammar.

      My wife is a doctor, and I have the utmost respect for the MD world. Unfortunately, 99% of them have no idea how to treat running-related maladies b/c there simply is no curriculum on it in their training. Plus, the time it takes to understand and treat running injuries simply isn’t rewarded or allowed for in our current payor/provider system. Orthopedists, for example, are paid to do surgery on acute joint issues; they can’t spend the time to truly help a strength-related overuse issue because there is no reward in it. As a result, they love to simply tell you to rest or inject cortisone into the site (which just masks the issue rather than corrects it). The link you reference is full of mis-information and over-simplifications to the point of being cringe-worthy.

      I have learned through my time looking at a lot of feet that there is a HUGE difference between someone with a low (even nearly-flat), but well-structured arch and someone who truly has a collapsing arch. It isn’t about the height of the arch but rather how it WORKS that is important. In the cases of truly collapsing arches, which in my experience is much more rare than the number of low to flat arches out there, then providing structure for that arch is important. I personally don’t think that a posted shoe is the answer in those cases but rather a well-structured orthotic or insert working within a neutral shoe. In less severe cases, many times a really firm neutral shoe can even do the trick as well.

      Thank you for prompting this additional dialogue on arches!

  38. What if you’re flat footed and pronate while just standing still? I would think that running will exaggerate/increase the pronation and cause for injury?

    • John:

      Running will likely cause further pronation, but that won’t necessarily cause injury. Pronation isn’t bad on its own, and I don’t believe it’s something you want to preemptively control in any extreme. I have fit many, many flat-footed folks with pronated stances and do so successfully in a firm “neutral” shoe with the right upper construction to accommodate the inward movement of the foot. Let the foot move how it wants to and get the shoe out of the way.


  39. Ok so I’m in desperate need of some advice. I have extremely high arched feet, and I’ve been told I over-pronate. To be honest, up unto this point I didn’t think it was bad or good I just thought it was. Lately though my feet have been killing me, and now my knees and back as well. I work 10-12 hours on my feet and I’m not allowed to wear sneakers. I do yoga, running, and cross-fit and have never had these problems before. I have tried just about every type of insert and nothing is helping, if anything it’s only getting worse. I’m open to any ideas as to what is causing this. Thanks!

    • Taylor:

      High arches are generally well structured and doing their job as-is, so don’t let anyone tell you that you need some kind of correction!

      What are you currently wearing to work? And what do you wear for the running and cross-fit that you do do?

      For standing, I generally recommend a firm shoe that allows your foot to relax in it vs. doing a lot of work digging itself out of a soft insole. For dress purposes, Dansko shoes are a great option.

      For shorter running/cross-fit, a firm and low to the ground option would work best. Usually, what typically might be called a racing flat is a good choice b/c it has those characteristics. Shoes like the Adidas Adios, Mizuno Hitogami or Ekiden, NB 1400, or Asics DS Racer would fit the bill.


      • Thanks for the quick reply. I wear basic loafers to work with added shock absorbers. While working out I wear minimalist shoes Vivo barefoot I believe. I actually found out today that I have plantar fasciitis; at least I have an explanation for the pain. I’ve been told night splints and inserts are best for it. You wouldn’t happen to know anything about it would you?

        • Taylor: I would bet money the loafers and “shock absorbers” are your issue. Those shock absorbers are kryptonite for your feet, just too soft making your feet work all day to stay on a firm platform. Switch to something like Danskos for work and see how things go, but I would bet you see immediate relief. The Vivo barefoot shoes probably aren’t your problem but might in the short term be exacerbating the pain, b/c with no heel, they are putting additional strain on the kinetic chain between your calf through the achilles to the plantar. Keep wearing them for now but I would definitely switch the work shoes.

          Don’t waste money on night splints or inserts. The night splint might make take away some of the morning pain but it won’t solve your problem. Instead of getting inserts, just get firm shoes like I describe. Instead, I would invest in a calf roller and start working to loosen the calf which will help the entire kinetic chain down to the plantar.

          Moral of the story: invest in firm work shoes like Danskos and a roller, not night splints and inserts.

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