Do you overpronate when you walk? If you're not sure, a podiatrist or the staff of a good retailer that sells athletic shoes may be able to help you determine your level of pronation. An overpronator's feet tend to roll too much to the inside of the foot while striding, putting most of pressure on the big and second toe and making it difficult for the ankle to stabilize the gait.
While overpronation is typically associated with flat arches (see: Best walking shoes for flat feet), other causes might include weakness or stiffness in muscles located in the lower leg, a “bow-legged” gait, or loose ligaments.
If you want to learn more about choosing the best walking shoes for overpronation, keep on reading this article. Below I've picked out a few shoe models which might be a good fit for your feet.
Overpronators are more vulnerable to shin splints due to increased rotation of the inner part of the shin bone, known as the tibia. This is especially true for people who have a fitness regimen that includes certain aerobatic activities like walking or running or work in fields that require them to be on their feet for several hours at a time.
Knee and hip pain is also an issue because an ankle that rolls too far inward can also cause alignment issues in other leg joints.
Overpronation reduces the foot's ability to distribute the “shock absorption” of walking and running, leading to greater risk of bunions and bone fractures in the first and second toes. Severe overpronation can lead to acceleration of the rate of bone deterioration in people with arthritis in the leg joints.
The wrong kind of shoe leads to most complaints of sore feet and exacerbation of an existing pronation issue. Shoes built for people with an underpronation issue (see my articles about good shoes for cavus feet and walking shoes for underpronation) , for instance, can actually add to an overpronation problem and increase the risk of injury.
This leads to most of the complaints that an otherwise good pair of shoes did not work for someone with a pronation issue. For this reason, shoppers for a motion control shoe should talk to someone who is pretty knowledgeable about issues with pronation and the brands of shoes that might help before they make a choice.
A motion control shoe built for overpronators includes features that assist with stabilizing the ankle's tendency to roll inward such as a thicker midsole made of a hard material. These shoes tend to be heavier and more durable than many “stripped-down” versions of athletic shoes.
With the most highly recommended motion control shoes, you can remove the insole to put in your customized insert or use the shoe with an orthotic device.
Here are the shoe models that I recommend:
Brooks Addiction Walker
This is a good motion control shoe with both a men's and a women's version. The company isn't quite as well-known as some producers of athletic shoes but “picky” podiatrists often recommend these shoes to their clients as part of correcting serious overpronation problems.
It's not a fashion statement. Even though you can get it in a few color options, these shoes tend to look pretty plain. Neither is it a cheap shoe. However, it's a popular shoe for people who might have had trouble finding a shoe that worked for their pronation problem and also makes room for orthotics.
New Balance 928
New Balance has a good reputation for producing supportive athletic shoes and produces this version for both men and women. It includes a Graphite rollbar to minimize the rolling of your heel and ankle and a rubber outsole with a thick wedge heel that works alongside shock absorption elements to reduce the force of impact that reaches your foot.
Many longtime users of New Balance shoes say that there were improvements that made the 928 better-looking and less clunky than previous versions.
Although this shoe isn't a cure for an inflamed tendon in the foot, it can help reduce the pain of plantar fasciitis or just the all-around sore feet that happen to overpronators who have to be on their feet most of the day.
New Balance 847v2
This is the updated version of the New Balance 847 for both men and women and includes the familiar rollbar and rubber outsole designed to support the gait of overpronators that do a lot of walking that longtime users of New Balance motion control shoes generally like.
The upgrades to Version 2 of this shoe include improved ventilation that keep feet cool and dry during the summer when people do most of their outdoor walking.
They can run a size small but the wide range of width options made this popular with people who have wide or narrow feet. Some people did prefer to use their own insert but otherwise seemed to like this shoe.
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You may have already tried several different pairs of motion control shoes and they just aren't doing it for you. This can be a frustrating experience, especially in cases where those shoes normally get consistently good reviews and even your podiatrist is scratching his head about why that shoe didn't work.
However, treatment of your overpronation may simply require considering options other than motion control shoes. In cases where overpronation may be caused by something other than flat feet, orthotics or exercises designed to strengthen the muscles and improve your gait used while walking may help.
Many fitness trainers are used to working with people who have issues with their range of motion and may be able to show you exercises with an inexpensive exercise band that can reduce overpronation. This can take a lot of patience because it usually takes several weeks to make real progress and build good pronation habits. These exercises are especially helpful for people whose overpronation is caused by muscles in the legs and ankles that need to be strengthened.
Here's a video with ankle mobility exercises for flat feet and overpronation:
Pronation issues caused by a bow-legged gait can sometimes be treated with orthotics like a leg brace. This is especially useful for young children who have trouble walking because their bones are still forming and it's easier to correct issues. If a child is under 4 years old, a bow-legged gait is normal though the child should be watched for signs of rickets or malnutrition that can affect the development of the leg, ankle and foot bones.
However, a child who is bow-legged past that age may have a condition known as Blount's disease or did not fully recover from a broken leg. The affected bone usually runs from the knee to the ankle and is curved outward to the point where the gait is affected. In older children or adult patients whose difficulties arose from trauma such as a broken bone or occupational health hazards, orthopedic braces may provide relief.
Surgery is another option for people who want to get rid of the cause of overpronation such as bow-legs, loose ligaments or ankle difficulties permanently, but this comes with the downside of extra recovery time.
If you have an overpronation issue, your podiatrist can help you determine which options are right for you. In most cases, good walking shoes for overpronation and a customized insert will give you the support you need to make your feet more comfortable (see: Comfortable shoes for walking and my article about long distance walking shoes).
When you have a job that requires you to be on your feet all day or your weekly fitness routine includes walking or running, you should not ignore pronation issues because your feet and legs will feel much better and be less prone to ailments ranging from bunions to painful shin splints if the problem is allowed to continue.