The Best Walking Shoes for Supination (Underpronation)

This guide reviews the best men's and women's walking shoes for supinators as well as an extensive look at the topic of supination. Use the in-content buttons to easily move around teh page and find what you are looking for. Please rate our post at the bottom of the page if you found it useful - thanks!

Last Reviewed on 30 December 2018

Woowalkers – The Fitness Walking Resource 1

by Jennifer

A supinator is a person who tends to walk on the outside of the feet where the foot does not roll inwards as weight is transferred from heel to the midfoot. The forces from the body weight are therefore taken predominantly by the outside of the foot. 

A minority of people supinate, so finding the best walking shoe can be a problem as shoe makers produce far less models for supinators than other gait types.

What are the Best Walking Shoes for Supination?

The best walking shoes for supination are neutral shoes that have plenty of cushioning to absorb impact forces, especially to the heel and toe area. They have arch support that allow the forces at midstance to be distributed more evenly away from the outside of the foot. Design features that allow firm postioning of the heel whilst still cushioning it are also beneficial.

Main Features a Walking Shoe for Supination Should Have

Heel

  • Shock absorbing design to dampen the forces on heel strike
  • Cushioning to further help spread impact forces
  • Footbed that cradles the heel to hold it securely in positition
  • Slight heel to toe drop to allow measured and normal Achilles tendon stretch
  • Heel Cap to position and protect the heel properly

Midsole & Arch

  • ​Some flexibility to ensure any natural pronation is allowed to happen
  • Support under the arches to help more even distribution of forces
  • Arch support should extend laterally and longitudinally enough to suit your arch
  • Uniform cushioning to further help reduce uneven pressures and for comfort
  • Removable insoles to accommodate custom orthotics if necessary.
  • Non-Slip insoles
  • Avoid mutiform midsoles, posts and stability devices

Lace Area

  • Wide lace opening design nearest the toes to make it easy to put on the shoe
  • Secure and even lacing system
  • Padded tongue to reduce spot pressures under laces themselves
  • Tongue that does not extend too much at the top and so rubbing the top of the instep 

Toe Box

  • Room for the toes to spread out naturally and function as intended
  • Flexibly retaining qualities of the upper to help foot maintain position
  • Cushioning and support from the insole to help reduce pressure on the smaller toes

Uppers & Linings

  • Breathable to allow moisture from your foot perpiration to escape
  • Flexible but containing to encourage shoe to foot positional relationship to be maintained
  • Internal linings to reduce rubbing and padding at critical areas such as around the heels

Sole

  • Sole should have torsional resistance - if twisted front to back it should not twist easily
  • Uniform pressure distribution from full length sole construction - full length midsole
  • Back of heel should not extend rearwards too much beyond the back of your heel
  • Heel width should not be too wide as it increases already off center heel strike
  • Heel resistance to collapse in the sole on impact which would increase supination effect

Shape

  • Last should accommodate foot type - more box like for flat feet and more shaped for high arches
  • Adjustable shape around the instep to accommodate higher insteps as well as normal
  • Range of width fittings and half sizing in length for proper fit

Select the Button for The Type of Walking Shoe You Want Below

THE BEST MEN'S SHOES FOR SUPINATORS

Best Men's Power/Fitness Walking Shoe For Supinators

Brooks Glycerin 16 

The Brooks Glycerin 16 is a fantastic lightweight shoe perfect for fitness or power walking on hard surfaces.

It has excellent support for your normal to high arches and cushioning for your heels and toes. 

It is made for road running and also suits most treadmill walkers with higher arches as well as the neutral pronator.

Brooks have ensured the support to the arch area, excellent heel cushioning together with the segmented crash pads to the sole work together to help distribute pressures more evenly across the foor and counter excess supination.

If you do your running on the trail check out the trail pick below.

Link to 8 Best Men's Walking Shoes for Supinators Buyers Guide

Link to Full Review on Brooks Men's Glycerin 16

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Good Sole Endurance for Durability
  • Wide Width Fitting Available
  • Flexible & Breathable
  • Excellent Cushioning, Support & Comfort for High Arches
  • Very Comfortable & Well Rated Shoe for Strenuous Walking Exercise

Honorable Mention to Saucony Echelon 7 - Made for flat-footed Supinators and especially suited to anyone wanting to use custom orthotics as it has room for them. The Brooks Ghost 11 is also a contender.


Best Men's Casual Sports Shoe For Supinators

Hoka One Bondi 6

The latest Hoka One One Bondi 6 in black is a shoe maxed out in comfort.

Lightweight and super cushioning from the full length EVA midsole with great but restrained styling (in black) and so suited to all day casual wear.

A neutral shoe that is roomy enough for your custom orthotics and which also provides excellent shock absorption.

Excellent breathable upper and wider width fittings available.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Lightweight Everything
  • Wide Width Fitting Available
  • Flexible & Breathable
  • Excellent Cushioning Everywhere
  • Very Comfortable Shoe Perfect for All Day Wear

Best Men's Trail Shoe For Supinators

Brooks Men's Cascadia 13

Supinators do not have such a wide selection to choose from but Brooks make the Cascadia 13 to suit you.

Apart from the fact it looks awesome, it is a neutral shoe with excellent cushioning. Naturally as a trail shoe the cushioning is not maxed out otherwise you would lose stability

These shoes are a little too small in the toe box if you want custom orthotics as the insole is removable but does come in a wide fitting which might be an option if you are a normal width needing orthotics..

Excellent breathable upper and plenty of responsive spring with this shoe.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Fairly Lightweight for a Trail Shoe
  • Wide Width Fitting Available
  • Flexible & Breathable
  • Decent Cushioning and Protection
  • Good Grip

Honorable mention to Altra Men's Olympus 3 Trail - Good Stability, Cushioning & Traction
Merrell MOAB 2 Ventilator Wide Width - Suits Custom Orthotics & an Awesome Trail & Hiking Boot
ASICS Gel Venture 6 - Full Review - Best Budget Trail Walking Shoe for Supinators 


Best Men's Dress Shoe for Supinators

OrthoFeet Gramercy Comfort

If you need a lot of support and are dealing with foot pain but also need a more formal shoe then the OrthoFeet Garmercy Comfort is a great option.

it is probably not going to win the fashion award of the century but who cares if your feet hurt right?

Plenty of room in the toe box, plenty of width fittings, plenty of cushioning and support for supinators and well receives orthotics if the excellent provided ones don't suit you.

There are not many shoes that look half way normal to suit people with moderate to severe foot problems and even using custom orthotics sometimes is an issue of the fit is too tight. You will not have that problem with these.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • OrthoCushion System to Guide Your Gait Naturally
  • Normal, Wide & Extra Wide Width Fittings Available
  • Smart Leather Upper Good Enough for the Office 
  • Excellent Cushioning and Support
  • Takes Custom Orthotics if Needed
  • Specifically Designed for Plantar Fasciitis & Other Foot Problems

Select the Button for The Type of Walking Shoe You Want Below

THE BEST WOMEN'S SHOES FOR SUPINATORS

Best Women's Power/Fitness Walking Shoe For Supinators

Brooks Glycerin 16 

The Brooks Glycerin 16 for women is one of the most comfortable road running and treadmill running shoes for women.

Particularly suited to power and fitness walkers because of its running shoe roots.

If you have high arches then you'll appreciate the comfort that the excellent cushioning provides along with arch support to suit your feet.

Extra attention to the heel and toe push off areas make it a perfect fit for high arched supinators whilst still suitable for normal arched users. 

It is made for treadmill and road running.

If you do your running on the trail check out the trail pick below.

Link to 8 Best Women's Walking Shoes for Supinators Buyers Guide

Link to Full Review on Brooks Women's Glycerin 16

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Rubber sole made for durability
  • Super snug and comfy
  • Jaquard Mesh Upper for Optimal Fit
  • Wonderful Cushioning Yet still Lightweight
  • Narrow, Medium & Wide Widths Available

Honorable mention to Saucony Echelon 7 - specially made for flat footed supinators and practically as good as the Brooks especially if you use your own orthotics.
Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 17 Women's Walking Shoe - On a par with the Glycerin just slightly different fit really.


Best Women's Casual Sports Walking Shoe For Supinators

Brooks Women's Dyad Walker

The Brooks Women's Dyad Walker is a top quality sneaker with neutral and cushioned characteristics.

A smart leather upper makes the shoe look great for casual wear out and about as well as for your normal style walking exercise.

If you have high arches and intend to wear all day then I suggest considering custom orthotics as the support may not quite be enough.

Excellent cushioning and nicely lightweight smart shoe for women.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Adaptable Proprietary Cushioning to your Weight & Speed
  • Slip Resistant Soles
  • Good Comfortable Dural Leather Uppers for Style
  • Order up 1/2 size
  • Medium & Wide Widths Available

Best Women's Trail Walking Shoe For Supinators

Merrell MOAB 2 Ventilator Women's Trail & Hiking Shoe 

Merrell is an exceptional shoe manufacturer for trail & hiking shoes. The MOAB line stands for Mother of all Boots but this is a trail shoe.

The Merrell Ventilator 2 comes in Normal as well as Wide fittings and there is also a waterproof version -  not meant for standing in water but resists wet grass and the odd puddle.

If you have high arches then you'll appreciate the support but if it doesn't work then the insoles are removable for custom orthotics anyway.

The shoe is quite roomy and lightweight for a trail shoe with proctive sole and rubber toe caps. The EVA contoured midsole keeps the weight down whilst providing lots of cushioning where you need it.

A really excellent trail show with very good reviews.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Leather & Mesh Upper for Flexibility & Style
  • Excellent Brand Technology
  • Extra Heel Cushioning to Dissipate Impact Forces
  • Durable Vibram Sole
  • Medium & Wide Widths Available & Waterproof Alternative

Best Women's Dress Shoe For Supinators

Vionic Women's Midi Perf

Looking for a shoe that can be worn to casually formal occasions can be tricky if you want support as well.

The Vionic brand was born from teh dreams of a podiatrist and focuses on shoes with support and orthotics.

This Vionic Midi Perf is a good looking shoe without being overly formal so can be worn pretty much anywhere and with most dress styles too.

The shoe is supportive and lightweight with good cushioning as well as support from the orthotic insole.  

It has excellent reviews.

Some features that are worth mentioning here include:

  • Stylish Perforated Leather Upper
  • Flexible and Lightweight
  • Plenty of Cushioning and Support.
  • Lots of Colors to Choose From
  • Only Medium Widths Though Sorry

What is Supination and How Can Shoes Help Counter its Effects?

There are two basic types of gait-control or balance-enhancing mechanisms that our feet resort to while we walk. These are called:

  • Supination (also called "underpronation")
  • Pronation (excessive pronation is called overpronation, see my article "best shoes for overpronation")

When you are all set for a run, have you noticed how the front part of your feet always push off the ground when your body takes off for the sprint? This outward ‘roll’ of your feet is exactly what supination refers to.

When supination occurs, the pressure of your entire body is concentrated on the smaller toes of the forefoot as your foot rolls outwards.

This happens one foot at a time obviously and so the pressure increases as we run because your whole body weight is supported by that one fore-foot which you are pushing towards the ground to give you the acceleration required.

Now, this is an absolutely natural procedure that is inevitable if we want to push our bodies forward but anything in excess is never good. When there is too much supination happening the tendons and ligaments of our ankles undergo a lot of strain. This can result in torn ligaments or sprained muscles, which often happens to athletes and marathon runners.

Picture of foot arch shape and bone structure beneath

Various Types of Foot Arch

Supination also occurs in people with high-arched feet (or cavus feet as they are commonly known, see my guide about the top walking shoes for high arches). This type of foot with an abnormally high ‘arch’ (the portion between the front-foot and the heel) tends to also have arches that are inflexible that tends towards supination. Supination is also referred to as under-pronation. To understand that you need to know what is pronation.

Pronation is simply the inward roll of your feet when your body weight begins to be taken by your foot arch which acts as a spring to diffuse pressure and in so doing rotates the foot towards the inner edge. 

Our feet are the hardest working parts of our body, allowing us to walk from place to place, balancing our body with a comfortable gait and supporting our weight.

To decide on the best shoes for supination we will need to understand some basic mechanics of our stride as a supinator.

It’s important to understand that the interactions of our bones, muscles, etc., are incredibly complex and interrelated. It is not just your feet doing all the work when you walk.

Many variables affect how our body parts work when walking. If we are taking a stroll and walking slowly, our posture will be more upright than when we are fitness walking and moving much more quickly. When we run the effect is even more pronounced.

How heavy we are, the type of surface we are walking on, the speed of motion, our habitual gait and the unique alignments of our bones and muscles and flexibility of our ligaments all affect the forces acting on our body as well as the arrangement of each as we walk.

‘Uniqueness’ is not something useful to shoe manufacturing. It is helpful for our basic understanding but to be useful commercially these actions need to be separated into groups.

And so we end up with terms to describe these groups – pronation, supination or underpronaton, overpronation, and excess pronation or supination.

Muscles Joints & Ligaments We Use To Walk

Muscles Joints & Ligaments We Use To Walk

Critical Takeaway

The action of our feet, alignment of our bones and forces exerted by our muscles to walk is unique. The terms supination and pronation are terms that help podiatrists and doctors quickly describe a class of movement - generalities that may apply to you to a greater or lesser degree.

What muscles do we use to walk?

A better question would be “What parts of our body do we use to walk?”

The fact is many parts work together as we walk. Ligaments stretch and compress; muscles work on our ankles, knees, hips, and spine to balance us; joints flex and push to propel us. It is a fluid set of movements unique to us.

Did you ever see a person from behind and instinctively know who they were because of the way they walked?

Our gait is part of our personality and developed as we grow, cope with injuries and from the way our muscles develop from the activities we do.

A Quick Overview of the Main Movements within our Feet

Our feet rotate about several different axes the main ones being:

Some of the Axes of Rotation of the Foot

Some of the Axes of Rotation of the Foot

The longitudinal axis which runs from the bottom of our ankle to the side of our middle toe nearest our big toe. Rotation about this axis moves our big toe and little toes nearer or further away from the ground.

Our heels rotate about an axis that is called the oblique axis, running from the outside rear of the heel (where most people land when walking) to a point where the heel and midfoot meet near the inside edge of the foot.

Our heels rotate about an axis from the outside rear of the heel where we most often make the first contact with the ground each stride, through to the front inner part of our heel – called the oblique axis at an angle of 25-35 degrees from the longitudinal axis. It is about this axis our heels tilt outwards (eversion) or inwards (inversion).

Our toes, whose bones are called the metatarsals, flex at the joints nearest the balls of our feet, known as the metatarsal break. This knowledge is important as our muscles exert forces on the floor to propel us at push-off by flexing our toes about this break.

Our ankles rotate about an axis that is almost (but importantly not quite) 90 degrees to the longitudinal axis – this is called the transverse axis.

There is also the upward and downward motion of the ankle named dorsal flexing. This flexing also causes the tensioning and contraction of the plantar fascia (which is the major ligament connecting the heel and toes) and teh Achilles Tendon at the back of your ankles.

What is Dorsal Flexing of the Foot (angle between leg and foot)?

Video of Dorsal Flex

Example of Dorsal Flex

Dorsal flexing of the foot is the movement of the foot about the ankle in a vertical plane with the ankle as the fulcrum.

When you move your toes upwards and away from the ground the plantar fascia stretches along with the Achilles tendon.

If you sit with your foot up in the air and move your toes back towards your body your foot dorsally flexes and you should feel a tension in your Achilles tendon at the back of your foot as well as the tendon near the middle bottom of your foot (the platar fascia).

The Three Segments of Gait

We can split our gait into three sections:

  • The Heel Strike Phase
  • The Midstance or Support Phase
  • Push Off or Propulsion Phase

The Heel Strike Phase

This phase starts when our heels impact with the ground gradually handling the increasing forces as we transfer our weight onto the ground. It is a fluid phase of impact and rapid transfer of forces to the midfoot as our legs straighten up in the middle of the midstance phase.

When we plant our foot at the beginning of our walking stance, the position of impact on our heel and the angle of the foot at impact will depend both on our gait and our activity.

The angle of our foot makes with the ground is about 15 degrees at an average pace, but this angle decreases when walking at a faster pace and in runners can approach zero. A slight splay at the back of the heel of the shoe thus helps walkers.

Also, most people land more towards the outer edge of their heel with an angle formed on the inward side of the heel (inversion of the heel) of about 15 degrees. In other words, looking from behind the weight is on the outer side of the heel with the inside of the heel slightly off the ground. This angle increases with speed.

So speed has the effect of increasing the inversion of the ankle and extending the contact area of the shoe or foot with the ground (because of the decreased dorsal flex angle).

As far as walking is concerned, the faster we walk, the more the landing forces of our body weight are spread because more of the shoe tends to be in contact with the ground at impact.

These are averages. Overpronators will tend to have less inversion of the heel and land nearer the center of the back of the heel for instance.

Supinator Foot Pressure Transfer Through Gait Cycle

Supinator Foot Pressure Transfer Through Gait Cycle

The Midstance Phase

From the point of heel impact to the transfer of forces to the midfoot and arch, there is some supination rapidly turning to pronation as the arch takes over the pressure of our weight from the heel acting as a sort of spring. Flexing of the arch rotates the foot towards its inner edge as it distributes and dampens forces.

As our legs straighten to perpendicular, our center of gravity rises to give us the bobbing action our heads make as we walk.

As we continue to move forward towards the beginning of the push-off phase our arch springs back up helping to propel us and our weight is transferred towards the balls of our feet.

The degree of flex of the arch is quite significant in the degree our foot pronates before returning to a supinating rotation into the push off phase. But remember our feet are only part of the story here as our legs and general body alignment are all also influencers.

Phases of Gait When Walking

The Push Off Phase

As the balls of our feet take over the forces from our weight transfer from our midfoot and arch, our toes flex at the Metatarsal break ready to push us off.

This transfer of forces leads to increased pressure in the balls of our feet and at our toes which exert the forces to propel us on our way.

Because our big toe sits forward of our smaller toes, our feet naturally reverse from the pronating phase of the midstance and turn to a supinating phase once again.

Critical Takeaway

Our feet initially supinate as we land on our heel and transfer weight towards the midfoot, then pronate during the midstance phase as our midfoot receives the forces transferred from our heel, dissipates them and passes them onto the balls of our feet and toes.

So what is a Supinator?

Now we understand how forces are working on our feet at a basic level we can see that the feet of every person both supinate and pronate at different stages of the gait cycle.

The differences between a pronator, supinator, and neutral gaited person are on the degree that the foot pronates and supinates during the cycle.

Supination Visual - Comparison of Neutral & Supinator Ankle Alignment

Comparison of Neutral & Supinator Ankle Alignment

A supinator will land on the outside of the heel, possibly more to the outside than a more normal gait. The foot then supinates in the usual way as the heel transfers to the midfoot, but the pronation phase caused by the arch flexing does not happen to a normal degree.

This supination leaves the weight of the body more on the outside edge of the foot than usual.

Then as the cycle moves towards the push-off phase the foot is aligned on the outside edge and is unable to transfer so much force to the big toe side of the foot.

This leaves the smaller toes to do much more of the work in the push off phase.

A supinator, therefore, is a person whose gait alignment leaves the weight of the body supported more by the outside of the foot with uneven pressure distribution as well as increased and disproportionate pressure on the toes at push-off.

How does all this help me find the best shoe as a supinator?

For a shoe to help a supinating walker, several points should be addressed.

  • The heel needs to be encouraged to a firm seating to avoid slipping because of the offset loading on the (more) outside of the heel.
  • The heel also needs to be cushioned to diffuse the impact forces but not so much as to allow the heel to wiggle around.
  • It is crucial the back edge of the heel is not too far behind the heel as this would cause shin muscles problems in breaking the foot before there is full contact with the ground. A beveled edge to the back of the heel is helpful with this. Alternatively a shock absorbing material in the heel at the back can be provided.
  • The heel should not be too high as this forces the posture to strain the lower back and cause pain and also causes Achilles problems if worn long term as the Achilles Tendon shortens because it undergoes little tension
  • On the other hand, heels that are too low can introduce Achilles stress too and also stresses the calf muscles.
  • The sole heel width should not be excessive as this increases the rotational torsion of landing on the outside of the heel and stresses the inner leg muscles and introduces instability.
  • The heel also needs to be soft to act as a shock absorber but hard to ensure the heel edge does not collapse under the weight. This is the reason that old worn out shoes are terrible for your feet.
  • The heel cap – the section around the back of the heel – should encourage stability by restricting torsion, help absorb shock and hold the heel still and in position.
  • The foot arch needs to be allowed to flex to the point that does not introduce too much stress step after step on the plantar fascia which is stretched by arch flex as well as by the dorsal flex of the foot to the leg at the push-off phase.
  • So the arch needs some support, high, inflexible arches need a lot of support (and will need orthotics as they are a comparatively small market for a commercial shoe product line). Lower more flexible arches will still need support, only less.
  • Also, the positioning of the support from front to rear needs to be correct as we all have different foot anatomy and arch heights, as well as lengths, vary.
  • The supinator needs room for the toes to be able to spread to push off and plenty of cushioning under the toes to avoid pressure overload and damage. The foot expands about 1cm in width and length on bearing weight, so it is necessary that you allow for this.
  • The supinators foot needs to be able to flex as much as possible, so medial post support and stiffened parts in the sole in the center of the shoe are not helpful.
  • While the foot needs to be able to flex to encourage the normal pronation – supination cycle – the shoe should provide resistance to torsional deformation in a measured manner.
  • The lace area needs to enable the shoe to be adequately held in place while allowing for different instep heights and without introducing pressure points. By providing a fuller throat at the bottom of the lace opening and a padded tongue to distribute forces from the laces, uneven pressure points is avoided.
  • The sole needs to be suitable for the activity. Rough surfaces need more rigid heels to protect the foot from pressures from stones etc., pushing through the sole; walkers on hard surfaces need upgraded cushioning but can accept less protection in the sole; walkers on treadmills can take less cushioning as the treadmill itself is cushioned. And people standing on their feet all day need more cushioning and support to offset the continual pressure on the arches and plantar fascia having to take our weight for long periods.
  • Heavier people will need more shock absorption than lighter people and so on.
  • The shoe last, which is the shape the shoe is designed to, refers to a foot mold that is used to manufacture handmade shoes to ensure regular shaping. A flat-footed person needs a squarer shaped shoe whereas a high arched person will need a shoe tighter in the midfoot and with more room in the toe box. A regular shoe last would be somewhere in between.
  • The insoles need to be removable to allow for orthotics if necessary, allow for wicking away moisture and providing support and cushioning without moving around.
  • The uppers need to be able to constrain the foot to a small degree without rubbing and yet allow for the flexing of the foot's different shapes.
  • Inside the shoe needs to provide some protection against rubbing to avoid blisters and the heel inner is particularly important to avoid rubbing the Achilles, typically having a notch in the heel cushioning to allow room for the Achilles.
  • As a supinator, you do NOT want Medial Posts, Stability rigidity in the midsole or other such devices which ARE beneficial to overpronators.

If you wish to study this topic further there is a good resource here.

The Best Walking Shoes for Supination (Underpronation)
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