For a very long time, shoe brands have made a killing selling products targeted at runners who were supposed to be ‘over’ and ‘under’ pronators.
There is no scientific evidence to support the theory that runners should be matched with shoes based on how their foot pronates. 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 a run. That is such a flawed process.
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.
Be the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 or the Nike Structure 24, the switch to supportive neutral shoes has been swift and merciless. 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 a limited inwards roll) should be matched with a soft, neutral shoe. In industry parlance, a neutral shoe lacks ‘stability’ features like a medial post.
Does this approach work? If the shoe is cushioned, supportive, and fits well, then most runners should have no problem. Having said that, a running shoe is not going to have a significant effect on your gait – unless the shoe is extremely 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.
Based on 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 four groups. The first has soft running shoes; no explanation is necessary.
The second category contains shoes with a medium-soft ride – the kind that delivers cushioning without excessive softness. That’s followed by running shoes that are tinged with firmness. Lastly, we’ve recommended the Saucony Kinvara 13 as the low-profile, low heel offset option.
So what you pick depends on your cushioning preference and use case.
Category 1: Soft running shoes for underpronation
1) Asics Gel-Nimbus 24
The last few years has been a great time for running shoes, and Asics deserves a special mention. There’s been a slew of new releases from the Japanese brand – both old and new.
The Nimbus 24 is one of the ‘old’ legacy models. While an alternate Nimbus exists in the form of the ‘Lite’ version, the 24 retains the ‘Nimbus-ness’ it’s been known for. And collectively, the Nimbus 23 and 24 are perhaps the best Nimbus versions ever produced.
The midsole looks a bit old-fashioned with its visible heel Gel pad, but all the parts come together to deliver a cushioned and supportive ride.
Despite the triple-density midsole, the ride is very smooth. We see the Nimbus 24 as a great daily trainer at easy speeds regardless of the mileage. The V-24 has been updated with a Flytefoam Blast midsole (from the Novablast fame), so the ride is soft yet relatively peppy for a Nimbus.
This Nimbus has a tongue gusset, as did the 23. The fit is secure, and very smooth – all within a true-to-size profile. We’re not a fan of the stretchy tongue though, as it feels out of place on the upper. Our review of the Nimbus 24 is here.
2) Asics Gel-Cumulus 24
For many runners, the Cumulus is often the first entry into the Asics brand. Of course, there are other models like GT-2000 and Kayano, but if one were looking for a cushioned neutral trainer to do it all, it’s hard to go astray with the Cumulus 24.
The Cumulus is an enduring classic that has stood the test of time. Even in 2022, this popular model eschews modern trends like advanced foam materials or cutting-edge cushioning inserts.
The midsole uses Flytefoam (an EVA blend) under a foam lasting and molded insole to deliver its cushioned ride and step-in comfort.
In other words, this is the kind of ride 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. The Cumulus has kept up with the times, so the mesh looks and feels premium, and so do the rest of the trim levels.
3) Asics Gel-Nimbus Lite 3
This is the second Nimbus on this guide, but this isn’t a typo or lazy editing.
The Nimbus Lite 3 is an Asics Nimbus, but minus the flab. The Lite 3’s midsole is a cleverly-designed stack of single-density Flytefoam with the token Gel placement. This is very unlike the decked-up design of the Nimbus 24 that uses a dual-density midsole with visible Gel windows.
From a performance standpoint, the Nimbus Lite 3 distills the cushioning comfort of the standard Nimbus into a distraction-free experience.
And you can tell from our review that we really liked the 2nd edition of the Nimbus Lite. The Lite 3 uses the same midsole as the 2, so the excellent ride character hasn’t changed.
Unlike the Nimbus 24 where its cushioning softness occupies the center stage, the Lite version has a more serious character. The ride is still extremely comfortable, but it feels relatively quicker. The wider midsole footprint makes the ride supportive under the heel and forefoot.
The Nimbus Lite 3 also has an updated tongue with a knit design, which is a departure from the EVA foam-filled version on the Nimbus Lite 3. This change reduces the snug feel over the midfoot, but without (negatively) affecting the fit security.
This nuanced ride character is versatile enough for most gait types, and that includes supinators.
4) adidas Solarglide 5
The name Solarglide is misleading, because the Solarglide 5 is a completely different shoe than the Solarglide 4.
Sure, there’s a full-length Boost foam with an EVA rim, but the redesigned LEP shank is new, and so is the outsole. The upper also receives an extensive makeover.
The suite of updates alters the ride character. For example, the much heavier Solarglide 5 is a slower shoe than the past versions. In our view, this adidas shoe is best used as an everyday cruiser, as it struggles at higher speeds. Read our in-depth review for more on this unconventional running shoe.
At the same time, the midsole stability is an improvement – thanks to the wide midsole and midfoot shank (LEP) that creates a supportive wing over the Boost core.
That being said, the Solarglide 5 continues to be a supportive-neutral running shoe that works for most gait and footstrike patterns.
It doesn’t matter whether you consider yourself an over or underpronator – the adidas SG5 delivers a deeply cushioned and stable ride experience.
Though the new upper is seamless and well-ventilated, the folded edges of the tongue tends to curl over the foot. We have no idea why adidas chose this design.
Category 2: Medium-soft running shoes for supination
1) adidas Supernova
The 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. It’s the midsole with its full-length Boost core that produces a very neutral ride experience. A firmer EVA frame covers the Boost foam on the sides and top to add stability.
2) Brooks Glycerin 19
The Brooks Glycerin 19 hits the sweet spot of running shoes. With a ride that blends cushioning comfort and ride smoothness, 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 19 works for most runners, even if it lacks a cutting-edge cushioning tech or an exciting ride character. Like the Nimbus Lite 2, it works as a reliable daily workhorse for most distances.
3) Reebok Floatride Energy 4
Reebok had a hit on their hands with the first edition of the Forever Floatride Energy.
The 4th update retains most of what was good in the first shoe, and that’s the reason why it’s here. The similar midsole design produces a familiar ride character. And even though the Floatride Energy 4 is now a $110 shoe, it’s excellent value for money.
The expanded Polyurethane midsole is cushioned, but not overly soft. It’s also dense enough to be supportive while being reasonably flexible.
These design elements combine to create a neutral ride experience that works with the foot during the transitions. There are no ‘support’ features that restrict the movement. On this guide, that’s a good quality to have.
The upper is pretty straightforward. The mesh exterior uses embroidered lines for structural support and aesthetic detail, and the padded areas grip the foot in secure comfort. The V4 drops the asymmetrical lacing that we saw on the last three versions.
4) Nike Air Zoom Structure 24
A few runners will be surprised to see the Nike Structure 24 rather than the Pegasus 38 or Vomero 16. On the surface, that may appear strange; isn’t the Structure a ‘stability’ shoe?
It was, till it was not.
In our in-depth review of the Structure 23, we described in detail how – and why – the Structure was a true neutral running shoe with a balanced cushioning delivery.
The wide midsole doesn’t have a medial post, and its just-right softness makes it comfortable and versatile enough for most gait types. The 24 is virtually identical to the 23, so the ride quality stays the same.
And unlike the Pegasus, the Structure feels smoother due to the better uniformity of midsole material.
In other words, the forefoot and rearfoot do not feel like separate parts of a midsole. Though there’s a forefoot Zoom Air bag, it’s not stiff because of its grooved construction.
It’s an excellent shoe to do it all – be it everyday runs or slightly spirited workouts. Its versatility for various foot-strike and gait patterns is the reason why it deserves a mention.
Category 3: Firm running shoes for under-pronation
1) Saucony Ride 15
Despite the transformative redesign, the Saucony Ride hasn’t lost sight of what made the series successful.
In other words, the Ride 15’s midsole has a firm undertone. At the same time, it’s also neutral, comfortable, and supportive – we covered the finer aspects of the Ride 15 in our in-depth review.
Not everything is firm; there’s a removable insole made of expanded PU foam (Pwrrun+) that adds a cushy layer of step-in comfort.
This unique blend of cushioning attributes adds a lot of versatility. The do-everything nature doesn’t just apply to different run types. This supportive and cushioned midsole also works with most gait patterns, supinating or otherwise.
The Ride 15’s upper is more spacious than some of the earlier models we’ve reviewed. The upper mesh and laces are soft; the inner sleeve and padded tongue/heel create a plush interior. The ventilation is excellent too, owing to the lightweight and perforated mesh.
2) Mizuno Wave Rider 25
This running shoe is different from the others. What sets the Rider 25 apart is its ‘Wave’ plate – a thermoplastic PEBAX insert between the EVA foam layers. Though this is limited to the rear and midfoot, it has a significant influence on the ride quality.
Though the Rider 25’s midsole stack is dual-density foam, the Wave plate makes the heel very stable and neutral. For this guide, this character trait is very desirable. The midsole cushioning is unbiased, as both the inner and outer sidewalls have a balanced design.
Like the past Mizuno Riders, this version also has a wide forefoot midsole and an upper to match. The Wave plate has shrunk in size and no longer forms the midfoot footbridge, so it is not as stiff as the older models (versions 23 and earlier).
Also see: The Wave Inspire 17
Category 4: Lightweight running shoe for supination
1) Saucony Kinvara 13
So far, most shoes on this guide are mid-weight trainers. But what if you wanted a lightweight and efficient running shoe for fast-paced runs? One that is also comfortable for up to half-marathon distances?
The Saucony Kinvara 13 is the answer.
The midsole has a wide flare for support, whereas the firm midsole adds a protective layer of underfoot cushioning. Along with the removable insole, Saucony uses a Pwrrun+ topsole (an e-TPU foam) over the midsole for added comfort.
The balanced midsole sidewalls produce a neutral ride without any bias, and the inherent firmness of the Pwrrun foam (EVA blend) adds stability. This neutral-supportive character makes the Kinvara 13 suitable for most gait types and footstrikes.
The design sticks to the basics, so the single-piece upper is smooth, secure-fitting, and breathes well. The Kinvara 13 is more spacious and breathable than the 12 due to its use of a partial gusset (The Kinvara 12 had a full sleeve).