The Best Walking Shoes for Supination (Underpronation)

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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.

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What is a Supinator or Under-Pronator?

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 the 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 shoemakers produce far fewer 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 allows the forces at midstance to be distributed more evenly away from the outside of the foot. Design features that allow firm positioning of the heel whilst still cushioning it are also beneficial.

You should know that whatever shoe you pick, it should NOT be a stability or motion control shoe. These types of shoes will resist any residual pronation that might remain in your gait and are negative for supinators.

We have lots of information on supination but, as some readers already know what they are looking for, the reviews are dealt with first. But at the very least please consider reading the list of features that a shoe for supinators should have which begins the Information Section.

You can jump down the page to the information section by clicking the orange button below (use the orange square bottom left of your screen or the button link at the end to get back here again afterward!)

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The table below gives a quick view of the shoes reviewed in this article for men and women. Use the jump links in the table as well as in the reviews to jump up and down the page quickly and easily. Blue links are for men, pink for women.


Navigation Tables & Quick Look at the 8 Best Walking Shoes for Supination in this Review


Best 8 Walking Shoes for Supination in 2019

Orthofeet Mens Gramercy

Check PriceMen's Only.

Vionic Splendid Midi Perf Womens Smart Casual Sneaker

Check Price

Women's Only


The Best Shoes for Supinators

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

Best Power/Fitness Walking Shoes For Supinators

1. Brooks Glycerin 17

Brooks Men's Glycerin 17
$149.89
(As of: 2019/09/18 1:10 am - Details)
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Brooks Women's Glycerin 17
$149.89
(As of: 2019/09/18 1:10 am - Details)
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Shoe Specifications
Style:Athletic Walking Shoe
Use:Power & Fitness Walking
Men's Sizing:7 – 15 Half Sizes to 12.5
Men's Widths:Medium – Wide
Women's Sizing:5 – 12 Half Sizes to 11.5
Women's Widths:Narrow to Wide
Upper:Synthetic
Cushion:Good & Responsive
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Supportive
Rating:95%

Overview

The Brooks Glycerin 17 is the 2019 improved version of last years predecessor the Glycerin 16. The main difference is an improvement in the Ortholyte™ sock liner which adds yet more comfort to an already really comfortable shoe.

The shoe is very lightweight thanks to its DNA LOFT™ foam midsole which combines excellent shock absorbing qualities with cushion and a responsive spring back. They are perfect for fitness or power walking on hard surfaces.

You'll find excellent support for your normal to high arches and cushioning for your heels and toes.

The Brooks Glycerin 17 is made for road running and also suits most treadmill walkers with higher arches as well as supinators or the neutral pronator. Power walkers need more of the qualities of a running shoe than do regular exercise walkers though this shoe would also be great for regular walking too because it is so lightweight.

The upper 3D printed mesh is an excellent material for breathability which is carried over from the previous model.

Brooks has 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 foot and counter excess supination.

With the improvement in cushioning to the sock liner, this shoe has exceeded its already great reputation. The cushioning to the lacing tongue and shoe collar around the heel and ankles are also very good, all of which helps avoid blisters.

The shoe does come up a smidgen small in length and width so you'd be well advised to order a half size larger in each. The black version is available in the largest range of width fittings and sizes in case you are not a medium width fitting.

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

Link to ​Full Review on Brooks Glycerin 16 – Men & Women (Note: That review is still valid for the updated version but the Insole is now better)

Men's Glycerin 17 Running Shoe

Honorable Mention to Saucony Echelon 7  for Men and for Women – 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 at a cheaper price point which is reviewed below.

Wrap Up

An excellent cushioned power walkers shoe for neutral to high arches.

The Brooks Glycerin 17 cushioning allows any natural pronation you have to occur unrestricted whilst supporting your foot arch for even pressure distribution.

The engineered mesh uppers stretch where desirable and resist stretch where needed, to provide a structure which promotes a better fit to your foot.

Best suited to mild supinators, the shoe does not force pronation but gently encourages it through cushioning at the same time as evening out stress and making for a smooth feeling underfoot.

Brooks Glycerin 17 – Features of Interest

Good Things

Good Sole Endurance for Durability

Wide Width Fitting Available (Black)

Flexible & Breathable

Excellent Cushioning, Support

Support for High Arches

Very Comfortable

Well Rated for Strenuous Exercise

Not So Good Things

Colors a Bit Restrained


Most Comfortable Walking Shoes For Supinators

2. Brooks Ghost 11

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29% savings
Brooks Women's Ghost 11
$84.95
(As of: 2019/09/18 2:23 am - Details)
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Shoe Specifications
Style:Athletic Walking Shoe
Use:Power & Fitness Walking
Men's Sizing:7 – 15 Half Sizes to 12.5
Men's Widths:Medium – Extra Wide
Women's Sizing:5 – 12 Half Sizes to 11.5
Women's Widths:Narrow to Wide
Upper:Synthetic
Cushion:Good & Responsive
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Supportive
Rating:95%

Overview

The Brooks Ghost 11 is one of the most comfortable road running and treadmill running shoes from the Brooks stable with a neutral gait focus.

This lightweight athletic style shoe is suited to supinators because it lets the natural pronation that exists in your gait occur without resistance.

As a supinator you want to let any pronation you have to be allowed to happen which is why motion control shoes and more rigid shoe constructions are bad – they actively resist that pronation.

The Ghost has lots of cushioning which is designed to spring back and assist in the push-off phase of your gait whilst providing great shock absorbance and comfort through your entire stride.

Available in a huge range of sizes and narrow to wide width fittings means you should have little trouble getting a good fit.

Apart from the cushioning from the excellent midsole, there is lots more around the heel and collar of the shoe to reduce rubbing and potential blisters as a result.

The tongue of the shoe is also well padded to distribute the forces from the laces so they won't rub either.

This is a responsive shoe which is perfect for the extra pressures fast walking exerts on your feet, giving you the support and cushioning you need as well as good shock absorbing in the heel area and a bit of spring to help you power onwards.

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

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

Honorable mention to Saucony Echelon 7 for Men and for Women – 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.

Wrap Up

The Ghost 11 is a very similar shoe to the Glycerin 17, just with slightly less cushioning (though still plenty), mostly a result of the better foam midsole in the Glycerin. Both shoes are suited for neutral to high arches.

The Ghost 11 is also slightly less responsive than the Glycerin 17 and there are marginal differences in the mesh construction.

Both shoes are supportive of your foot arches and comfortable even for relatively long walking sessions.

Although the Glycerin 17 is the better shoe, it comes at a higher price and for most the Ghost 11 will provide nearly as much comfort, cushioning and support for a significantly lower price point. The Ghost is also readily available in an Extra Wide width fitting.

Brooks Ghost 11 – Features of Interest

Good Things

Fair Sole Endurance for Durability

Extra Wide Width Fitting Available (Black)

Flexible & Breathable

Very Good Cushioning, Support

Support for High Arches

Very Comfortable

Well Rated for Strenuous Exercise

Not So Good Things

Colors a Bit Restrained


Best Exercise Walking Shoes for Supinators

3. Hoka One One Bondi 6

4% savings
Hoka One One Mens Bondi 6
$144.44
(As of: 2019/09/18 2:23 am - Details)
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29% savings
Brooks Women's Ghost 11
$84.95
(As of: 2019/09/18 2:23 am - Details)
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Shoe Specifications
Style:Cushioned Walking Shoe
Use:Exercise Walking
Men's Sizing:7 – 14 Half Sizes to 12.5
Men's Widths:Medium – Wide
Women's Sizing:6 – 11 Half Sizes to 10.5
Women's Widths:Medium to Wide
Upper:Synthetic
Cushion:Excellent
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Moderately Supportive
Rating:92%

Overview

The latest Hoka One One Bondi 6 is a shoe maxed out in comfort courtesy of its extra thick foam midsoles and comfort and cushioning focussed design.

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.

The lacing system is well padded from the tongue and there is plenty of cushioning around the collar to protect your Achilles and ankles and reduce the chance of rubbing and blisters.

A neutral shoe that is roomy enough for your custom orthotics and which also provides excellent shock absorption. This is well suited to supinators because the cushioning allows flexibility to allow the foot to pronate such as your gait style allows.

The Bondi 6 has an excellent breathable upper and wider width fittings available.

Wrap Up

For moderate supinators, the Bondi 6 offers a neutral shoe that is super comfortable.

Excellent cushioning and comfort is the main priority of the shoe, and for walkers who supinate mildly, this is exactly what you want.

The shoe has a slightly wider sole than most of its competitors which will tend to bring your feet back to a more neutral position.

The cushioning also allows your feet a degree of pronation to the extent it occurs in your gait alignment through your stride without torsional reinforcement which supinators must avoid.

Hoka One One Bondi 6 – Features of Interest

Good Things

Lightweight Everything

Wide Width Fitting Available

Flexible & Breathable

Excellent Cushioning Everywhere

Very Comfortable Shoe

Suits Longer Wear Periods – Even All Day

Not So Good Things

Some Colors Hard to Size

Only Moderate Support but Insoles Removable


Best Overall Walking Shoe for Supinators

4. SAS Time Out / Free Time

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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon product page at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Shoe Specifications
Style:Casual Walking Shoe
Use:Casual & Light Exercise Walking
Men's Sizing:6 – 15 Half Sizes to 14.5
Men's Widths:Narrow to Extra Extra Wide
Women's Sizing:4 – 12 Half Sizes to 11.5
Women's Widths:Narrow to Extra Extra Wide
Upper:Leather
Cushion:Very Good
Sole:Synthetic
Insole:Removable
Rating:92%

Overview

The Men's Time Out and the Women's version called the Free Time are two shoes built on the same design principles.

SAS shoes are hand made with premium materials and are built to last more in the style of the tradecraft of cobbling than the mass-produced factory shoes of the major brands.

These shoes are some of the most comfortable walking shoes I own and full of the little extra features that make a great shoe which are often less easily totally automated and so missing in the mass marketplace.

Features like a little elastic attachment to the shoe tongue to keep it in place and stop it slipping off to one side. Small perforations designed into the shoe to make it stand apart but provide functional breathability.

These shoes are lined internally to up the comfort level and have excellent CoolStep insoles that feel cool underfoot and take away any moisture from sweat to keep your feet drier and cooler.

There are excellent Gel pods under the heel and the areas under both balls of your feet which work to dissipate and distribute shock and pressure on those high-pressure areas.

Supinators demand neutral shoes that will accept the pronation that exists in your gait, albeit that smaller than normal, and provide a good stable base underfoot with good arch support.

These shoes really help because the supplied insoles are already supportive but if the support is not enough or you require custom insoles for whatever reason then simply whip out the supplied ones and drop in your custom ones.

The shoes are built to a roomy specification much more so than athletic style shoes which tend to be designed to a tighter fit to constrain the shoe to the foot more in order to keep it positioned under the greater forces that occur in all directions from running or more extreme styles of walking.

So for supinators who are casual walkers or people who want a very comfortable shoe that can be worn for work, these SAS shoes provide a formidable solution.

I do understand that these shoes are higher up the cost scale than some others but you really are buying better quality and the shoes will last longer and serve you better which makes them excellent value for money.

And they are made in the US.

Wrap Up

A neutral hand made shoe of excellent quality that is made in the USA and provides good value for money because quality outlasts mass production.

Beautifully soft and breathable leather uppers, excellent insoles and plenty of space for your feet to spread out and helped to do the job they were designed for.

Cushioning is very good and shock absorbance which is taken care of by strategically placed gel pods in the heel and under the balls of your feet.

A durable outsole that is lightweight and odor control treatment add to the mix to produce truly great walking shoes for anyone with neutral or supinating gaits.

SAS Time Out / Free Time – Features of Interest

Good Things

Substantial but Not Heavy

Wide Range of Fitting Sizes

Excellent Insoles

Decent Cushioning & Shock Absorption

Roomy Design for Orthotics

5 Star Top Quality Handmade Shoes

Not So Good Things

True Sizing Feels Large


Best Athletic Trail Shoe for Supinators

5. Brooks Cascadia 13

Brooks Men's Cascadia 13
$130.00
(As of: 2019/04/25 4:21 am - Details)
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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon product page at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Shoe Specifications
Style:Trail Walking Shoe
Use:Trail Walking
Men's Sizing:7 – 15 Half Sizes to 12.5
Men's Widths:Medium & Wide
Women's Sizing:5 – 12 Half Sizes to 11.5
Women's Widths:Medium
Upper:Synthetic
Cushion:Very Good for Trail Shoe
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Supportive
Rating:90%

Overview

Supinators do not have such a wide selection of specific shoes 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.

The Cascadia has an excellent breathable upper with a rubberized lower section to repel low-level water such as you might find running over grass.

Heel and forefoot positioning comes from a dual suspension positioning system to keep your foot better planted in its right orientation and there's plenty of responsive spring in the shoe.

Honorable mention to Altra Men's Olympus 3 Trail for Men and Women – Good Stability, Cushioning & Traction
ASICS Gel Venture 6 – Read Our Full Review – Best Budget Trail Walking Shoe for Supinators

Wrap Up

If trail walking is your thing then the Brooks Cascadia offers supinators a good cushioned and neutral shoe with lots of technology to protect your feet.

The uppers are made from engineered mesh with a rubberized 3D print section just above the midsole to beef up durability and resist damp.

There is plenty of support under your arches to spread those loads and ease the stress on high-pressure points that are the cause of pain.

A good durable sole with technology to disperse sharp pointy stones pushing into your feet too.

Brooks Cascadia 13 – Features of Interest

Good Things

Fairly Lightweight for a Trail Shoe

Wide Width Fitting Available

Flexible & Breathable

Decent Cushioning and Protection

Good Grip

Support for High Arches

Not So Good Things

Order up 1/2 size


Best Trail Shoe for Supinators

6. Merrell Moab 2

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Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the Amazon product page at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
Shoe Specifications
Style:Trail Walking Shoe
Use:Trail Walking
Men's Sizing:7 – 15 Half Sizes to 12.5
Men's Widths:Medium to Extra Wide
Women's Sizing:5 – 11 Half Sizes to 10.5
Women's Widths:Medium & Wide
Upper:Leather & Textile
Cushion:Good with Ankle Support
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Supportive
Rating:95%

Overview

Merrell is an exceptional shoe manufacturer for trail & hiking shoes. The MOAB line stands for Mother of all Boots but this is a mid-height 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 from the footbed but if it doesn't work for you then the insoles are removable for custom orthotics anyway (though you should order a half size bigger and wider if you think you will be fitting custom orthotics).

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

The shoe features a stability band in the upper to provide lateral support which is helpful when walking over uneven surfaces. Note that this is not the same as a stability shoe which features torsional resistance in the sole to make the shoe resist pronation and which supinators want to avoid.

The fit is quite snug in the heel which helps keep your heel well positioned and reduces slip of the foot in the shoe, it should fit just right in the midfoot area, not tight, and it should be roomy for your toes to allow them to do the job they were designed for which along with the sole design helps spread and distribute forces properly.

Distributing forces is especially important for supinators because the gait pushes the forces in your foot over to the outside which creates overstressing. Better pressure distribution will help reduce the overstressing by spreading the forces out across the shoe as should be the case.

A really excellent trail shoe for supinators with very good reviews. Please note that the shoe linked to in this article is not the waterproof version. If you are hiking in wet conditions then you absolutely should pay the premium for the waterproof version of the shoe.

Merrell - Moab 2 Mid Waterproof Review

Wrap Up

The Merrell MOAB 2 is one of the best selling trail shoes out there and with good reason. It incorporates a lot of features and is an excellent shoe.

The Mid version of the shoe provides better ankle support which can help reduce the risk for supinators turning their ankles.

The shoe is made with room in the toe box but maintains a good fit across the midfoot and snug heel fit to reduce foot slippage on those testing surfaces of the trail.

A good neutral shoe for those with neutral gait and very good for supinators whose passion is trail walking.

Merrell MOAB 2 – Features of Interest

Good Things

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

Not So Good Things

Not So Many Colors


Best Men's Dress Shoe for Supinators

7. Orthofeet Gramercy Comfort

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Shoe Specifications
Style:Casual Walking Shoe
Use:Casual Walking & Work
Men's Sizing:7 – 14 Half Sizes to 10.5
Men's Widths:Medium to Extra Wide
Upper:Leather
Cushion:Good
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Removable Premium Orthotic
Rating:89%

Overview

This one is just for the men – the women's dress shoe is listed later!

If you need a lot of support and are dealing with foot pain but also need a more formal shoe then the OrthoFeet Gramercy 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?

This shoe is made by Orthofeet which is a company dedicated to the design and manufacture of shoes for people with foot problems.

Supination in itself is a problem because of the knock-on effects it causes when the pressure from your weight is taken predominantly on the outside edge of the foot. When you are completing your stride, it follows that your weight is taken more by the small balls of your feet than it is by the larger ball of your foot which is more normal.

That larger ball of your foot is designed to handle those pressures (which is why it is larger!).

In the Gramercy you not only have a little more depth in the toe box but you also have an excellent premium orthotic. The benefit of the orthotic is to provide support to your foot arch so that it transfers pressure to the support (rather than your foot arch flexing to support your off-centered weight).

Better pressure distribution offers less stress on the component parts of your foot and also encourages more of your weight over to the big ball of your foot in preference to the smaller ball. As a result, the front of your foot also has better pressure distribution.

All of this means less chance of higher than normal stresses in the various bones and ligaments that are in your foot.

The additional depth of the shoe also gives plenty of room to remove the orthotic provided if the support is not quite right for your foot shape and insert a custom orthotic.

Many shoes have removable orthotics but not many have enough depth to allow you to remove the customary thinner provided orthotic with a custom, generally thicker orthotic. If the toe box and room in the shoe is skimpy then adding a custom orthotic inevitably leads to less space which can then cause rubbing and pressure issues.

So there is a huge benefit for you if you usually wear, or need, custom orthotics.

The Gramercy has plenty of room in the toe box, plenty of width fittings, plenty of cushioning and support for supinators. Not only that the shoe looks like any normal shoe by and large.

There are not many shoes that look halfway 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.

Wrap Up

The Orthofeet Gramercy is a shoe for general walking as well as a casually formal shoe.

It is more a shoe for general wear than it is for walking around the park for exercise, though it is perfectly capable to serve that purpose.

The shoe offers great support from the provided orthotic and plenty of room to install custom orthotics if you need higher support or support in a slightly more forward or rearward position. Everyone's feet are different!

So if you are looking for a shoe for everyday wear that is adaptable enough to deal with even significant underpronation then the Gramercy might be a good choice for you.

Orthofeet Gramercy – Features of Interest

Good Things

Casual / Formal Shoe

Excellent Orthotic Insoles

Stylish Leather Uppers

Good Choice of Width Fittings

Good Support & Cushioning

Specifically Designed for Plantar Fasciitis & Other Foot Problems

Takes Custom Orthotics if Needed

Not So Good Things

Not Styled for Exercise Walking


Best Women's Casual Shoe for Supinators

8. Vionic Midi Perf

Vionic Women's Splendid Midi Perf - Dusty Pink
Check Size Availability
(As of: 2019/09/18 2:23 am - Details)
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Shoe Specifications
Style:Women's Casual
Use:Work & Casual Walking
Women's Sizing:5 – 11 Half Sizes to 9.5
Women's Widths:Medium
Upper:Perforated Leather
Cushion:Good
Sole:Rubber
Insole:Supportive Orthotic
Rating:89%

Overview

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 the 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 nice casual styling is smart enough for most environments really.

You might not wear them to a ball but then who though glass slippers were suitable all those years ago Cinderella?

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

It has excellent reviews and is really comfortable as well.

Wrap Up

If trail walking is your thing then the Brooks Cascadia offers supinators a good cushioned and neutral shoe with lots of technology to protect your feet.

The uppers are made from engineered mesh with a rubberized 3D print section just above the midsole to beef up durability and resist damp.

There is plenty of support under your arches to spread those loads and ease the stress on high-pressure points that are the cause of pain.

A good durable sole with technology to disperse sharp pointy stones pushing into your feet too.

Brooks Cascadia 13 – Features of Interest

Good Things

Stylish Perforated Leather Upper

Flexible and Lightweight

Plenty of Support

Lots of Colors to Choose From

Only Medium Widths Though Sorry

Not So Good Things

Could Have a Bit more Cushion


The 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
  • A Footbed that cradles the heel to hold it securely in position
  • 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 multiform 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
  • A 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
  • Flexible 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 perspiration 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

  • The 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

  • The last (or shoe shape) 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

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.

Types of Foot Arches
Types of Foot Arches

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 tend 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 for shoe manufacturers. 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 the 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 plantar fascia).

What Are 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 to 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.

The Best Walking Shoes for Flat Feet in 2019 2
The Stages of the Gait Cycle

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 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.

What are the Key Features for the Best Shoe for a Supinator?

For a shoe to help a supinating walker, the following 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 better 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.

 

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2 thoughts on “The Best Walking Shoes for Supination (Underpronation)”

  1. Thank you. This is the best site I’ve found in searching for a jungle hiking boot for a woman who supinates! If the info begins with…” this boot is very stiff so prevents supination”, I move on; because they don’t know what they are talking about. That is the worst idea, to PREVENT ones natural gait. It is VERY PAINFUL. Thank you for giving us really helpful and correct information; and for guiding me to the right boots to try.

    • Absolutely! Trying to correct your gait is a sure way to pain. Supporting and working with the way your body is will gradually help reduce symptoms and work with your natural body movements. I heartily agree. Glad you found the article helpful.

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