For a very long time, brands have made a killing selling products targeted at runners who were supposed to be “over” and “under” pronators.
There’s scant scientific basis to support the idea that runners should be matched with running shoes based on their level of foot pronation. Even today, many running shoe stores and brands will ‘analyze’ your gait and suggest a ‘suitable’ running shoe – all based on how your foot rolls during running.
For example, if the ‘gait analysis’ indicates that the extent of inward foot roll was minimal (supination/under-pronation), then a neutral running shoe is likely to be recommended.
Conversely, a person with excessive foot roll (over-pronation) would be paired with stability running shoes.
We’ve been saying for years that all this is hogwash. If you want proof, just look around. Brands are divesting traditional stability shoes in favor of supportive neutral shoes.
Even Nike, the home to all things bold and new, is claiming that the new React Infinity Run showed a 52% lower injury rate than the Structure 22, their flagship ‘stability’ shoe. In short, old-school stability shoes have been a lie all along.
The same logic applies to supinator-friendly running shoes.
Conventional wisdom states that a person with a supinating foot with limited inwards roll should be matched with a soft, neutral shoe. In industry parlance, a neutral shoe is a type without stability features like a medial post.
Does this approach work? If the shoe is cushioned, supportive, and fits well, most runners should have no problem. That being said, dispel the notion that a running shoe is going to have a significant effect on your gait – unless the shoe is really soft or/and doesn’t fit the way it should.
High arches and supination are often used interchangeably, so why do two different buyer’s guides exist? Well, even high-arched runners can over-pronate, so both circumstances shouldn’t be conflated.
From our experience, all supportive neutral running shoes are a safe bet. This is regardless of whether you classify yourself as someone with supination or over-pronation.
We’ve divided this guide into three groups. The first has soft running shoes; no explanation is necessary. The second kind has a medium-soft ride – the kind delivers cushioning without the excessive softness. In the last group, you find running shoes that are tinged with firmness.
So what you pick depends on your cushioning preference.
Category 1: Soft running shoes for underpronation
1) adidas SolarGlide 3
From the outside, the SolarGlide 3 appears to have a midsole made only partially of the soft and responsive Boost foam.
The reality is more comforting; the Boost foam extends right up to the toe area. The EVA rim is just that – an additional overhang that makes the ride supportive through the mid-section and forefoot.
The important part of the midsole is single-density, so that makes the ride consistent yet compliant enough for most loading patterns. The upper gets the standard adidas treatment. A no-sew shell with a plush heel makes the interiors smooth and secure.
2) Asics Gel-Cumulus 22
The Cumulus of 2020 is a much-changed, so forget what you thought you knew about this model.
The latest update morphs into a neutral trainer with a soft, comfortable ride – the kind that allows the foot to work through the gait cycle naturally. The upper is smooth-fitting, true-to-size, and is available in various widths.
Making the magic happen is a reformulated Flytefoam midsole that dials up the levels of cushioning and step-in comfort. The 22 is an upgrade from the 20 and 21 in more ways than one, so that’s a reason why you should give this neutral running shoe a try.
3) Saucony Triumph 18
The Triumph went under the knife in 2019, and what emerged was a renewed Triumph. It ditched the firmer Everun midsole in favor of the softer and bouncier Pwrrun+. Not only that, but Saucony also widened the midsole to increase the volume and stability.
The Triumph 18 is similar to the 17, except that it has an improved and less constricting upper. The midsole delivers the same cushy ride experience that accommodates a variety of gait patterns without any instability.
There’s ample Pwrrun+ foam available under the foot regardless of the gait pattern. The Triumph 18’s neutral ride quality is an important trait in the context of this guide.
Category 2: Medium-soft running shoes for supination
1) adidas Supernova
The newly released adidas Supernova is one of the better-looking running shoes from the German brand. The upper even has embroidery, and details like the vented forefoot and midfoot panels show that someone has spent time on the shoe’s appearance and functionality.
Not bad for $100, we say. The selection of soft upper materials makes the insides comfortable as well. And like most adidas shoes, the Supernova fits a bit snug.
But what’s under the aesthetically pleasing upper is more important. That’ll be the midsole with its full-length Boost core that produces a very neutral ride experience. That doesn’t come at the cost of stability; a firmer EVA frame covers the Boost foam on the sides and top to prevent the shoe from becoming overly soft.
2) Asics Gel-Nimbus 22
Barring the Nimbus 21 – which was a disaster – this neutral running shoe from Asics has always been a safe choice.
The Nimbus 22 is one of the better versions of this series; the cushioned ride is comfortable and supportive due to the redesigned Flytefoam midsole. This is an 11-ounce shoe, so it’s best used as a daily trainer for runs at relaxed speeds.
It also has a plush and spacious upper to match.
3) Brooks Glycerin 18
The Brooks Glycerin is the proverbial ‘nice guy’ running shoe. While it doesn’t bedazzle in any form, the Glycerin’s road manners are polite enough to please most runners. As a bonus, it’s very neutral too.
The cushioning is plush enough for all-day comfort while being smooth and supportive enough to let the foot do its thing. We share a similar opinion of the upper. The knit mesh exterior combines rearfoot plushness with a smooth, seam-free interior.
In short, the Glycerin 18 works for most runners, even if it lacks a cutting-edge cushioning tech or an exciting ride character.
4) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
If you saw this shoe on a list of ‘stability shoes for overpronators’ on another website, take that with a large grain of salt.
The midsole has an unbiased yet cushioned ride quality that works for most runners. Though it is marketed as a stability version of the Ghost, both the shoes ride very similar to one another. The Adrenaline no longer has a medial post.
In fact, if you want to get the Brooks Ghost 12 instead of the GTS, that will work too.
5) Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit
Among the bag of tricks would be the urethane stabilizer cupping the rearfoot and a wide full-bodied midsole that packs a lot of React foam. It’s also worth highlighting the grooved outsole works together with the midsole instead of adding stiffness.
All these features connect to deliver a cohesive ride experience. That kind that allows the foot to roll naturally while being supportive enough for road running.
We’d like to point out that the Infinity React is a soft shoe, so it’s best used for straight-line road running and not off-road endeavors.
6) Reebok Floatride Energy 2
Reebok had a hit on their hands last year. We’re talking about the Forever Energy V1, of course. The annual design refresh retains most of what was good in the first shoe, and that’s the reason why it’s here. The ride is identical, and the upper has several fit and structural refinements.
The expanded Polyurethane midsole is cushioned but far from soft. It’s also dense enough to be supportive while being reasonably flexible.
Add all these up to create a neutral ride experience that works with the foot during transitions. There are no ‘support’ features that restrict the movement. On this guide, that’s a good quality to have.
7) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 37
Now and then, a popular shoe series makes a drastic switchover to something nearly unrecognizable. The Nike Pegasus 37 versus the 36 is a good example.
The latest Pegasus is softer under the heel, and even the forefoot feels different. That’s because the Zoom Air bag has been removed and replaced with a React foam core. The forefoot still has Zoom Air but the ride behavior has markedly changed from the 35 and 36’s full-length Zoom set-up.
Even though we don’t like what Nike has done with this model, the Pegasus is still a decent neutral running shoe. The shallow scoop of the rear midsole adds stability and cushioning balance. Unlike the Structure, the midsole density is even on both sides and does not make gait corrections.
But be warned: the Pegasus 37 is nothing like the 36.
Category 3: Firm running shoes for under-pronation
1) Saucony Ride 13
Despite the Saucony Ride 13’s switch to the new ‘Pwrrun’ midsole foam, this shoe has a very familiar ride. The kind with a firm cushioning, and one which is also neutral and supportive.
This unique blend of cushioning attributes makes the Ride 13 versatile. The said versatility doesn’t just apply to different run types. This supportive and cushioned midsole also works with most foot-loading patterns, supinating or not.
The strappy mess that was ISOFIT no longer exists on the Saucony Ride (Hence the omission of the ‘ISO’ suffix). In its place is a regular-looking engineered mesh outer shell that fits smooth on the inside and locks the foot down.
2) Mizuno Wave Rider 24
Okay, this is a running shoe that is very different than the rest. What sets the Rider 24 apart is its ‘Wave’ plate – a thermoplastic insert between the soft foam layers. Though this is limited to the rear and midfoot, it has a major impact on the ride quality.
Though the Rider 24 has a softer midsole density, the Wave plate makes the heel very stable and neutral. For this guide, this character trait is very desirable in a running shoe. The midsole picks no side, with both the inner and outer sidewall being pretty balanced.
Similar to the past Mizuno Riders, this version too comes with a wide forefoot midsole and an upper to match. It is softer than the 23, so there’s nearly no break-in period required.
Also see: The Wave Inspire 16