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What’s Pronation? Find the Right Running Shoes for You

Even though running is as simple as putting one foot in front of the other, at times it can feel like there’s a huge learning curve. And while shoes are a pretty much non-negotiable part of the running outfit, they can be one of the more confusing topics to tackle. From highly technical descriptions to lots of mentions of pronation (raise your hand if you pretend to understand that word in conversation but really don’t), shopping starts to get complicated. Not to mention, there are seemingly endless options of shoes to choose from. It may seem tempting to give up and pick a pair based on the colors (guilty), but we think there’s a better way.

At Runkeeper we’re always trying to make running that much easier (and fun-ner…yup, totally a real word), so we wanted to tackle this very intimidating topic for you all. We started out by explaining stride and pronation in terms we hope are a bit easier to digest, with clues to help you identify where you fit in. Be sure to check back in next week, when we round up some of our favorite ASICS shoes* across the Runkeeper team, with insights and reflections in human speak.

What's Pronation? Find the Right Running Shoes for You

Let’s Talk About the P-Word

What’s pronation? Simply put, it’s the amount your foot rolls inward when it strikes the ground during walking or running. An inward roll of about 15 degrees has been determined to be the most natural (and neutral) pattern to transfer weight and impact most evenly throughout the gait cycle during a run.

Overpronators

This is you if:  your foot lands on the outside of your heel and rolls inward more than the 15 degrees. This transfers weight to the inner edge instead of the ball of the foot. You may experience runners knee, IT-band pain, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, bunions, or heel spurs as a result of this stride. It sounds dramatic, but you’re in good company, as the majority of runners are on the side of overpronators.

Your current shoes will: show the most wear on the on the inside of the shoe, through the heel and the ball of the feet, especially by the big toe. When placed on a flat surface they’ll tilt inward a bit.

Your arches are probably: low to flat.

When standing: your knees may naturally tilt inward towards each other.

You should look for: a stability shoe that prevents your foot from rolling too far inward. That structure helps keep your stride more in line and alleviates pressure from your knees. It also keeps you moving forward instead of side to side. Firm mid soles also provide nice arch support, and a bit of cushioning helps the more severe over pronators. For extreme over pronators, look for terms like motion control.

ASICS recommends: GEL-Kayano is the leading structured support model from ASICS. GT-2000, GT-1000, and Metarun, are also key stability options, while GEL-DS Trainer and GEL-Noosa are structured shoes for the overpronator who likes a little less bulk in their shoes and a bit more speed. Seeing the words “Dynamic DuoMax™ Support System” in the shoe description is a good indicator it’s a fit for over pronators.

Neutral Pronators

This is you if: you stride follows that 15 degrees of pronation. When running, your foot lands on outside of the heel, then rolls moderately inward to absorb shock and support your body weight. You probably are also always on time, have 20:20 vision, and are generally good at everything. Just kidding! But a neutral stride is the ideal one, so congrats.

Your current shoes will: show even wear in an S-shaped pattern, from the outside of the heel to the big toe.

Your arches are probably: relatively normal. Not too high, not too flat.

When standing: your knees point straight ahead, not too far towards or away from each other.

You should look for: shoes with the “neutral” in the description, but luckily neutral runners can wear a wide variety of shoes, from structured to cushioned.

ASICS recommends: GEL-Nimbus is the leading neutral cushioning model (great news: the only place you can buy it in the U.S. until January 1st is the Runkeeper Store!). For neutral cushioning ASICS also offers GEL-Cumulus, the new Dynaflyte, FuzeX, and the GEL-Quantum series.

Underpronators

This is you if: the outer side of your heel hits the ground at an increased angle with little or no normal pronation, causing a large transmission of shock through the lower leg. This is one of the more rare strides amongst runners, so consider yourself special? (Kidding.) Plantar fasciitis, shin splints, and ankle strain are some of the injuries that can result from this stride.

Your current shoes will: show the most wear on the outside, from the outer heel up through the pinky toe. When placed on a place surface, they may tilt outward.

Your arches may: be on the high side.

When standing: your knees tilt away from each other, also known as being bow-legged.

You should look for: running shoes with plenty of cushioning, to help counter the shock produced by this type of stride. Look for terms like mid-sole cushioning, outer cushioning, and heel cushioning. Did we say cushioning? Flexibility is a nice key word here, too, as that helps distribute impact more evenly.

ASICS recommends: much of the same shoes you’ll see in the neutral running category. GEL-Cumulus is the leading cushioning shoe, but again, you could go for GEL-Nimbus, Dynaflyte, FuzeX, and the Quantum Series.

For more complete shoe recommendations based on your pronation style, check out ASICS’ pronation guide.

We hope that makes things a bit easier! Don’t forget to tune in next week for a deeper dive on some specific pairs, straight from the Runkeeper team. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you! Is there a shoe you’ve had success with? What do you love about it?

 

 

*Why are there only ASICS in here?

The Runkeeper proudly joined the ASICS family through our acquisition in March 2016 and we’ve been actively learning about and experimenting with their products ever since—if we weren’t already running in them, that is. We’re proud of the technology and research they put into their shoes, so wanted to look at the very confusing subject of pronation and shoe selection through an ASICS lens. We understand runners look to a variety of brands, though, so check out this piece from the Running Shoes Guru to understand top models across different brands, all sorted by pronation.

 

 

 

 

 

Erin Glabets

About the author:
Erin Glabets

Erin runs brand and communications for Runkeeper, and likes to run all over Boston, too.

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