For a long time, brands have made a killing selling products targeted at over and under-pronators.
There’s scant scientific basis to support the idea that runners should 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’ indicated 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 the favor of supportive neutral shoes.
Even Nike, the home to all things 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 running trainer is the kind 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 two different buyer’s guides? Well, even high-arched runners can over-pronate, so both circumstances aren’t identical.
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 needed. The second kind have a medium-soft ride – the kind delivers the 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 SolarBoost 19
Though the Boost foam is 7 years old, it has aged nicely. The Boost midsole and Continental rubber outsole pairing has been around for such a long time that ones knows exactly what to expect.
The soft foam is served along with a nice dose of bounciness, the kind that makes most runs very enjoyable. The EVA side rims offer a touch of support so not everything is left to the Boost softness.
This shoe’s durability is tried and tested, so you don’t have to think about replacing it for several hundred miles. Though the knit upper lacks optional widths, it fits smooth and true to size.
2) Saucony Triumph 17
In other words, the cushioning is responsive without the mushiness; additional design features such as a wide midsole base add stability during the transition cycle.
There’s sufficient cushioning in the tank to last a marathon distance while being fun enough for your daily workouts. The plush upper is snugger than before, but hey – that makes the fit secure too.
Category 2: Medium-soft running shoes for supination
1) 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 at relaxed speeds.
It also has a plush and spacious upper to match.
2) Brooks Glycerin 17
As a running shoe brand, Brooks is a crowd pleaser.
Except for the DNA AMP based shoes like the Levitate, Richochet, and Bedlam, most of their models have a ride quality that melds a medium soft and conventional cushioning with a supportive overtone. The upper with soft-touch materials is comfortable with a Goldilocks fit.
The Glycerin 17’s well-balanced character has made it a popular neutral daily trainer over the years. The full-length DNA Loft foam design delivers a smooth yet predictable ride that works for most runners.
3) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
If you saw this shoe on a list of ‘stability hoes for overpronators’ on another website, take that with a large grain of salt.
The new GTS 20 (and the 19) is nothing more than a supportive neutral. 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 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.
4) Nike Epic React Flyknit 2
The lightweight Epic React 2 is softer than the Asics and Brooks models listed above. At the same time, this is not your typical ultra-cushioned running shoe. The rubbery React midsole delivers a deep, consistent cushioning with a bit of responsiveness.
At 8.5-ounces, it is also the lightest in the group. That makes it one of the most versatile running shoes in this group. Be it daily trainer at higher paces or the occasional 20-miler, the React doesn’t disappoint. The single-piece Flyknit upper disappears over the foot.
Also see: The React Infinity Run – a more supportive version of the Epic React.
5) Reebok Floatride Energy
Speaking of versatile, here’s another cushioned trainer capable of most things running. The durable e-TPU cushioning has just the right amount of cushioning to keep it comfortable for long runs but low-profile enough for slightly faster runs. We voted it the best shoe of the last year.
Unlike the Asics Nimbus or Brooks Glycerin, the upper here is pretty minimal and stripped down of niceties. That’s good, because it disappears over the foot while providing a secure (yet somewhat longish) fit.
And did we tell you that this Reebok retails at $100?
Category 3: Firm running shoes for under-pronation
1) Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 36
The Pegasus is just a few years shy of 40 and has been through countless variations. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed – the Pegasus 36 hits the sweet spot between cushioning and firmness and appeals to the majority – supination or not.
The full-length Zoom Air (though thinner than before) adds a firm layer underneath while midsole casing adds some degree of softness. The sleeved upper is spacious, secure and fits true to size.
2) Saucony Ride ISO 2
Dependable. Versatile. Peppy. Cushioned. Supportive. These are some of the adjectives come to mind when describing the Saucony Ride ISO 2. That’s the reason why the Saucony Ride has proved so popular over the years.
And it’s not just the midsole that sits in the sweet spot between firm and soft. The upper combines soft linings, foam padding, and an engineered mesh to create an interior that not only fits securely but is also comfortable.
3) Mizuno Wave Rider 23
We recommend the Rider 23 for those who want their running shoe to be padded yet very supportive.
The Wave plate creates a stable foundation while adding a bit of responsive pop from its curved structure. The upper is old-school, yet has all the space and interior comfort that one needs.
No matter whether it’s a case of supination or overpronation, the Mizuno 23 should have you covered. A word of caution however; the Wave plate is an acquired taste.
Also see: The Wave Inspire 16