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shoes for an overpronater
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Gregory Keller
(gregkeller) - F
shoes for an overpronater on 04/28/2011 16:24:45 MDT Print View

Could use a little help with a shoe to help stop some of my over pronating. It is causing me a little bit of an issue with some knee pain, as well as shin splints (i think) when i attempt to run. I know that custom orthotics/insoles are probably a good idea, and will probably also use those but i think the best idea would be to start with a motion control shoe and then put a strong insole in those. Also would love to find something that has a little bit of protection from sharp rocks underfoot. Longer hikes here in NJ/PA leave the bottoms of my feet sore from the pointy rocks on the trails. Not sure if it has to do with the material of the midsole or not. I'm pretty much a beginner when it comes to shoe tech. I have used trail runners in the past, a pair of oboz that wore out pretty quick, and showed lots of wear on the inside heel portion of the tread, as well as the "crushing" of the sole material. I'm not a lightweight guy either (about 215 lbs). Currently using a Vasque trail runner, not sure of the model, but they are ok, but starting to see the same crushing of the sole material, and wearing away of the tread in the inner back part of the shoe.

I'm not dead set on sticking with trail runners, but obviously would like to keep things light. Maybe that means going to a lightweight midheight boot to find what I need to support my foot properly, or maybe there is that superlight trail runner with a vibram sole, great stability control and a strong midsole for someone of my weight. Any and all help is appreciated.

Robert Cowman
(rcowman) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: shoes for an overpronater on 04/28/2011 16:38:59 MDT Print View

Ultra 105 shoe or mid.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: shoes for an overpronater on 04/28/2011 17:35:26 MDT Print View

Okay, I am going to go with the unpopular point of view.

If you run barefooted or with minimal shoes (I am not advocating either for the purpose of this thread), you will not pronate either way. Why? Because you will have a front foot strike. This is the natural way to run. And if you learn to run this way, often you will start to hike some of the time the same way without thinking about it.

Why do most runners over-pronate? A few reasons could be being overweight, flat feet, weak ankles, or most importantly not knowing how to run with the proper stride. It is caused by the ankle rolling inward. When you buy shoes to compensate for pronating (either way), they are allowing you to continue running with an inefficient stride. And this can also lead to stride related injuries to hips, knees and ankles.

Doing a lot of hiking with a pack is not the same as walking. It is more like running, as you are subjecting your body to a lot of work/stress. IMO, getting into shape and staying that way by running is going to help your hiking a lot. To me it is a matter of determining and fixing the root cause, other than trying to overcompensate for it by mechanical means (motion control shoes). Whenever you overcompensate there is often an opposite undesirable effect.

Unfortunately, when we go hiking, we need to be in hiking shape... which often means that hiking needs to be a normal part of our lifestyles.

I have been running and hiking for nearly 50 years, and have never had a running/hiking related injury due to the kind of shoe or boot I wore. Probably part of this is that when I started running, I ran barefooted (only because I could not afford running shoes). So this accidently started me on the path of proper foot strike. And over the past 5 decades I have never given a conscious thought to how I run -- mechanics-wise. However I will admit that I have never been overweight... that might just be good genes and/or my lifestyle.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: shoes for an overpronater on 04/28/2011 19:07:35 MDT Print View

> a shoe to help stop some of my over pronating

BAD move right at the start.
Any attempt to alter the mechanics of your feet, ankles, knees and hips will cost you severely. 'Pronation control' is another destructive myth promoted by modern American marketing spin doctors. History and the rest of the world does not subscribe to this myth.

> Longer hikes ... leave the bottoms of my feet sore from the pointy rocks on the trails
A firm sole is useful, but sore feet are often due to the shoes being just that little bit too small - and too narrow. Go for a wider fitting first.


Edited by rcaffin on 04/28/2011 19:08:01 MDT.

Dave Triano
(Dtriano) - MLife

Locale: Desolation Wilderness
Pain.... on 04/28/2011 20:54:39 MDT Print View

So, Roger, Nick.....

What are you advising this man to do? Nick, it seems that you are advising him to go 'cold turkey' and run barefoot (which if his 'over pronation' has resulted in plantar fascaitis will lead to tremendous pain (been there), and get in shape (yes, absolutely agree as a root cause). Roger , are you advocating just a move to wider toe box in his current shoes, or a wider shoe overall?

Exploring this for my own edification, not being combative-


Edited by Dtriano on 04/28/2011 21:01:32 MDT.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Pain.... on 04/28/2011 21:59:13 MDT Print View

Just some thoughts:

You say you're getting pain/"shin splints" when you run or hike longer miles.

How regularly do you train?
How many miles/week do you run?
How many miles/week do you hike?

I've talked at length about the shin splint phenomenon (when I once had a bout) with a close friend who runs for Nike and coaches track/cross country at a large college. She believes that with most folks "shin splints" are in fact nothing more than a symptom of poor conditioning and overdoing it. Yes, they are painful, but they typically disappear with conditioning and stretching. Apparently they're really common in cross country and the track pre-season as athletes get back into high intensity routines. I've only had them a few times, but any time I have it is typically following a hard workout after a period of relative inactivity or a new type of working out, such as running sprints on the track. Every time they've subsided with rest, stretching, and never came back with proper/regular conditioning. I see it as basically a sore muscle issue, relieved by rest and conditioning. But neither her nor I believe it's a shoe-thing.

I fully agree with Nick and Roger that "overpronation" issues are pretty dubious. It makes very little sense to me that if your foot wants to move a certain way that preventing it from doing so will help. If anything, I think it will worsen your issues. I've been there personally: I was "diagnosed" an "overpronator" by a running store fitter back in the day. I bought the appropriate "motion control" shoes, the extra cushy ones because I'm 6'2" and 200 lbs and need all the "support" I can get. I then had a long and lovely affair with ITB syndrome and tendinitis in my foot after running some road marathons, to the point I though I'd have to quit.

On a hunch I ditched the bulky shoes, ran in the flattest, most neutral shoes I could find, switched to a mid to forefoot strike, and I've been running fine ever since, injury free. I remain convinced to this day that highly cushioned "motion control" shoes wrecked my form and caused far more issues than they solved.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Pain.... on 04/28/2011 23:25:35 MDT Print View


I am not an expert and sports medicine is not my line of business. I can only share by what I have learned as a runner and hiker over the years. Also, I need to be careful that I do not offend anyone. If I do, it is not my intent.

But lets look at the two problems; knee pain and shin splints (if that is what is happening).

Starting with shin splints. Often this is caused by over-exercising or over-use of the muscles. Also can be caused by stretching your muscles if you over-pronate. Worse case is stress fractures; this happened to my son after his sophomore year in high school when he upped his mileage too fast and too intensely.

So if we start an exercise program, we need to start with our general physical fitness. If we are over 30, a physical examination and general discussion with a doctor might be in order. Guilty... I have never done this; I only go to the doctor if I need something like a gall bladder removed.

If we are overweight, our skeletal structure may not be conducive to running... yet. We need to slowly and carefully change our diet and start a very light exercise program. Easy walking is great as are some aerobic or gym exercises. We really shouldn't start running until we get down to a reasonable weight. Then the running needs to be very light, only a couple times a week. Best to run on grass in a park or similar. A little barefoot wouldn't hurt, but I am not necessarily advocating that. Shoes should be flat. No heel lift. No motion control. If one has never run much before, some sort of minimal shoe will you help learn a natural stride. But remember we are only doing light running on soft surfaces.

And from there you slowly increase mileage. If you read some of the threads here on 5-fingers and similar footwear; most users will tell you that running in them caused new soreness... mostly in the calves, as their stride changed to a front foot strike. All of this takes months. Too often we are "couch potatoes" and then we jump up and go for the glory. Don't run on cement or asphalt... at least until you have gotten into reasonably good running shape, and then it sill might not be a good idea. Cement or asphalt does not bother me... unless I have not run in a while.

It is estimated that over 50% of people over-pronate. At lot of this has to do with weight for many people. The legs and muscles were not designed to run with the extra weight many of us carry. Lets say that we weighed around 180 lbs when we were 18 years old and at that time we were in fairly good shape; and today at age 40 we weigh 220 lbs. We need to seriously think about losing 30 or 40 pounds before we get to a strenuous exercise program. That alone will take most people at least a year to do, and it is not easy!!

The other thing is that many people do not know how to do; is run naturally... they fight their bodies, and this is where a little barefoot running at first can help.

Knees: unless there is some sort of knee problem or damage, the previous stuff probably applies. Remember I am not an expert.

Once we are in good shape and are hitting the trails or going cross country, I feel that most people should get a shoe with a rock plate. Something to protect the bottom of your feet from impact injuries. I learned my lesson on this last year. I had been doing a lot of hiking and running in very minimal shoes, the lightest that could be bought. I really knew better, but I had convinced myself that the light shoes would send a signal to my brain quick enough to adjust. Last year at about 6 miles into a 60 mile hike I experienced a pretty significant impact injury to the front of my foot. I was able to complete my hike, but I learned my lesson.

Okay, all of this sounds impractical. Take a year to get into shape. Then stay on a regular exercise plan. It takes time. But if we get crazy and rush into things, we can suffer injuries that can limit us for the rest of our hiking lives.

Regarding shoes. The shoe industry created the demand for all this stuff to help us "run correctly." Pretty much did not exist before 1970. And I think that often they have done more damage than good.

What do I use? First let me share something. I have never thought about how I walk or run, stride-wise. I just run or hike. I have a friend of who is an engineer. We have done a few hikes together and he is fairly new at it. Being new to hiking and being an engineer, he analyses everything. How often you should drink, how much you should drink, how long your stride should be going uphill and then downhill, etc. etc. Things I have never even thought about. Last year I went on a fairly strenuous hike with him, and for about 5 miles he hiked behind me and completely analyzed how I hike. I didn't realize he was doing this. When we took a rest break, he mentioned that I hike mostly on the balls of my feet. I didn't know that. But I guess it makes sense... I never wear out the heels of my dress shoes, but need to replace the soles quite often as they wear out under the ball of my feet.

My favorite shoe is a Salomon XA Pro 3D Ultra. Size 12. I wear size 10 1/2 dress shoe. These shoes fit well, are plenty big in the front, protect the bottom of my feet, and I never get a blister. They are in the stable shoe category (between neutral and motion control). I never even checked, they fit best at the time. I run in a performance neutral shoe. My next hiking shoe will probably be a more neutral Salomon, like the XT Wings or XA Comp 5.

Hope this helps. Remember, it is just my opinion.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Pain.... on 04/28/2011 23:29:47 MDT Print View

Craig posted while I was responding. He hit it nicely.

Clint Wayman

Locale: East Tennessee, US
Re: Re: Re: Pain.... on 04/29/2011 00:04:10 MDT Print View

@Nick, I usually just realize that someone else has already posted what I wanted to say =)

And this is DEFINITELY a topic that interests me. I'm 6' 185lbs (formerly 5'10 210lbs when I started running in high school). I'm not super lean/cut, but in DECENT shape. I've been road running in huaraches at home and MT101's at school (tired of ppl stopping me to ask questions about the sandals) and the fore-foot strike is definitely where it's at. The problem is, when I'm walking regularly I still heel strike and naturally over-pronate, leading to slight knee disconfort when hiking. Advise? At the OP, I completely understand wearing away at the inside of the heel.

Fun story:
I ran cross country my senior year of high school. When at the Runner's Market to get 'properly fitted' for shoes, the guy had me go to the wall, take off my sandals and walk torward him. His only expression was, "Oh... wow... that's bad!"

Edited by cwayman1 on 04/29/2011 00:04:43 MDT.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Re: shoes for an overpronater on 04/29/2011 01:42:02 MDT Print View

First a little history.

I first took up running to gain stamina and endurance because I was "gassed" by the time the 3rd game of a two out of three racquetball match came around. I soon found that I was hooked on running and ran many 5K, 10K and longer distances. I completed two 26.2 mile marathons. This was all in my late twenties and early thirties.

Early in my running career I began to develop inflamed soft tissue in my hip joints. It was painful just to lift my leg to press the clutch pedal in my truck. My orthopedist prescribed an anti inflammatory and advised me to ice the joint.

The sports podiatrist diagnosed me as an overpronator and fitted me with custom made and prescribed hard thermoplastic orthotics. I used them in my running shoes from then on. After this my hip joint pain lessened and finally disappeared. Then like Forrest Gump I ran and I ran and I ran.;-)

At present I am in my late 50's and run very little but I do enjoy hiking. Strangely enough I do not seem to need the orthotics when I walk or hike. I have tried them in my hiking shoes and put them aside.

"'Pronation control' is another destructive myth promoted by modern American marketing spin doctors. History and the rest of the world does not subscribe to this myth".

I can't answer for the rest of the world but my doctor helped me to eliminate the painful result of my overpronation. I believe this to be a fact and not a myth. My results are just that, my results.YMMV

I see value in motion control for over pronation. I know that when I was running my orthotics allowed me to continue to do what I enjoyed doing free of my hip pain.

FWIW I see it this way. If you are experiencing symptoms that cause you discomfort seek out a good "sports podiatrist" and let him analyze your normal walking / running gait. The facts as I see them are these. "Spin doctors" are after your money. If you are experiencing pain, it is not a myth. Finally a real sports medicine doctor may be able to help.

Party On,


Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Pain.... on 04/29/2011 02:14:48 MDT Print View


I guess one would just have to make a conscious effort at it until it becomes habit. Do it for 28 straight days and it will be. I do think that when we wear shoes, especially with heels, we tend to heel strike. To me if a shoe forces you to strike differently, then that is going to impact how your knee and hip move and could possibly lead to a new problem. "THE SHOE MADE ME DO IT, THE SHOE MADE ME DO IT!!"

Here are some things that might help. I work in my home office about 90% of the time, and usually go barefooted around the house. When I go out, I wear flip-flops almost exclusively, to my wife's chagrin. This might help me.

Try walking around barefooted, I bet you will find that striking on your heel is uncomfortable. Smaller surface area than the ball, less cushion, and nothing to flex, like all the bones in the front of your foot. Landing on your heel is a hard strike, landing on the front cushions each step. You will tend to walk more on the front, but probably not 100%.

I just looked at my flip flops. There are little designs all over the top of the footbed. Very little wear around the heel area, but a lot of the design has worn out under the ball of my foot, and my toes. Maybe the design of flip-flops makes me grab the the front to keep them on and make me strike more with the front? I don't know.

When you walk around town, walk fast or briskly. If you find you are bouncing up and down like a dork, you might be one... er, I mean you might be walking more on the front of your feet :) Also check your posture when you walk, that might make a difference.

When we hike, we probably walk about 50% uphill... just guessing that even a "flat" trail goes up and down. If we are not used to walking on the balls of our feet, we aren't going to do it, because our calves are not used to that kind of work. We normally will tend to go with a heel first strike. I don't think anyone is going to go front first 100% of the time.

The 10% I travel is corporate suit territory. Even then I don't wear the big clunky shoes that are in fashion today. I buy quality Bostonian or Johnston & Murphy shoes, which normally have thin soles and heels, since I dress rather "conservatively."

To be honest, I have never given it much thought until the past couple of years with all the interest here in minimalist footwear.

This is the problem I have with running stores who are "experts" at fitting you. If their philosophy is that that shoes and insoles will "correct" what your body does naturally, it might be counter-productive. Other stores may just try to put you in neutral shoes that fit, unless you ask for something else. Keep in mind that motion control shoes and insoles generally mean more profit.


Fun story:
"I ran cross country my senior year of high school. When at the Runner's Market to get 'properly fitted' for shoes, the guy had me go to the wall, take off my sandals and walk torward him. His only expression was, "Oh... wow... that's bad!"

I got fitted once for running shoes, a few years ago. I wanted a shoe for training on roads, and some extra cushion, thinking that since I was in my 50's it might be a good idea. It was a very well known store, and the employees are runners. First they started by asking what the intended use was. Then they measured my feet. Then they brought out several pairs of shoes. Then we went outside and they had me RUN up and down the sidewalk in each pair of shoes. The shoe I ended up with was a Brooks Trance 6. Made for an average arch, and high mileage. Brooks wasn't even on my shopping list. And it was the largest size I had ever purchased, size 12.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Pain.... on 04/29/2011 05:09:12 MDT Print View

Ah Nick - you are getting too old and wise. :-)

> Keep in mind that motion control shoes and insoles generally mean more profit.
Ahem ... :-)

> I work in my home office about 90% of the time, and usually go barefooted around the
> house. When I go out, I wear flip-flops almost exclusively
Hey - that was MY line! Honest!

> to my wife's chagrin.
Chuckle - my wife is the same as me.

When one of our grandchildren get married some time in the future, both of us will probably have to buy some shoes for the occasion ...


Dave Triano
(Dtriano) - MLife

Locale: Desolation Wilderness
Pain 2 on 04/29/2011 08:31:12 MDT Print View

Nick, et al, thank you for your comments. As I said, not being combative, just exploring the issue a bit...

So, he is reporting initial knee and shin pain, coupled with a presumably heavier weight, and asking about shoes to help. I have been in the same boat, and it is good advice to a begin a steady 'get in shape plan' to reduce the load on his stressed joints. To do this, however, he needs a specific plan to rehab his lower extremities carefully while he loses the weight.... He needs to pay attention to supportive shoes, and stretch his plantar fascia, all lower joints, and related musculature/connective tissue thoroughly before exercise. Strengthening his lower extremities while losing weight, carefully.
My concern with going barefoot immediately is that he will develop plantar fasciitis (as I did when going 'caveman' to try to rebuild my own
gait) quickly, due to the increased weight on an unsupported, weak arch when barefoot(although he doesn't report it, it's a suspect area, in this scenario, in my opinion). If this happens, he will not be able to maintain any 'shape up' plan.
I got to a good podiatrist, got set up with proper support for my weakened feet, and worked it down from there. I am still not sure if I am to the point of barefoot strengthening..... But it might be worth a try now (dropped from 197 to 170, 5'9", 45 years).

Your thoughts?


Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
shoes for an overpronater on 04/29/2011 10:46:10 MDT Print View

I've been in a similar situation. I'd consider myself very fit, but I'm also pretty stocky at 5'10" and 205 lbs, age 30.

I try to get in about 4 runs per week. I've been at this regularly for the last four years. I've never really liked running per se, I found it to be hard on my joints, feet, shins, etc. considering how much weight I have coming down with each foot strike.

Early on, I was having problems with overpronating and developing shin splints. The shoe-fitting "expert" at the local running shops suggested shoes with motion control. I followed his advice and sought out shoes with motion control. They helped... sort of... I could get in about 3 or 4 consecutive days of running, nothing major, maybe 4-8 miles per day, before the shin splints would flare back up. Then I'd have to take a few days off. This went on for about three years before I decided that something wasn't right.

I did a bit of reading and learned about the barefoot/minimalist footwear concepts and decided on a whim to give it a try. I didn't (and still haven't) gone to anything too extreme (i.e., barefoot or huraches, etc.) but tried to find neutral shoes without a lot of heel rise. I forced myself to learn to strike on my forefoot as you would if you were running barefoot. It was awkward for a while but I eventually got the hang of it and it has in turn, vastly improved my comfort while running. No more shin splints, my stride feels more efficient, and most importantly, I don't feel nearly as beat up afterwards. I've become a believer!

Some other things I do that may have helped along the way:
At home, I mostly go around barefoot. Outside of work, I live in flip flops just like a couple of the other folks mentioned. I try to get in a run every week or so in the soft sand at the beach- killer leg workout! I also spend some time at the gym three mornings a week working with a trainer. A lot of what we do involves various leg exercises and plyometric movements, which seem to help strengthen all those various muscles throughout your legs and feet.

Gregory Keller
(gregkeller) - F
sorry for the confusion on 04/29/2011 11:53:06 MDT Print View

Guys I appreciate the help with the ideas. The barefoot/forefoot strike ideas sound fun. I am not a runner, never really plan on becoming a runner. I get my fitness from cycling. I know at 215 lbs i might not be as fit as I can, and i'm working on that, but my aerobic system is in pretty decent shape. So the idea of running is not that appealing. Every once in a while when the weather isn't conducive to bike riding and i'm sick of the indoor trainer, i'll go out for a short jog. Maybe that's my mistake, and I just shouldn't try running ever. When I do that, I get an extreme soreness bordering on pain in my tibialis anterior, the muscle on my shin that lifts my foot up. It is something I rarely get when hiking. The knee pain I get while hiking is mainly on the downhills and I thought it was due to the way my weight falls on my feet, and especially downhill when my weight is falling on my heel.

So here is the question, I understand the idea most of you have been saying that I need to train my gait, and all of that stuff, but I really don't plan on taking on a running program to train my feet when I really don't like running, and would really just like to get rid of the pain while hiking. I figured motion control shoes would help that and was looking for recommendations. Maybe not, but I just don't see myself giving up riding my bike for running.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
shoes for an overpronater on 04/29/2011 12:40:03 MDT Print View

Of course those of us whose feet are already damaged do need that support. Part of my problem is hereditary--my mother had the same foot problems (bunions, hammertoes, fallen arches) and so do two of my children. Five pregnancies didn't help my feet, either.

With the stability/pronation control in a properly fitting shoe, I can hike all day without ever turning an ankle (big problem back in my boot days). I don't have other issues, either. The important thing is that the shoe has to fit! The 2007 women's Montrail Hardrock is the perfect shoe for me, and I'm glad I was able to find a couple pair on the internet before they disappeared entirely. I haven't found a shoe since that works, but fortunately it's going to be another year or two before I need to worry. (BOO to Columbia Sportswear, who bought the company and ruined the shoe!)

One thing might help, and that's to consult a good sports medicine specialist.

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/29/2011 12:44:29 MDT.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: shoes for an overpronater on 04/30/2011 17:55:03 MDT Print View

>> When you walk around town, walk fast or briskly. If you find you are bouncing up and down like a dork, you might be one... er, I mean you might be walking more on the front of your feet :)

When I get a chance to walk during lunch, I go by an office building that has reflective (mirror-like) windows. I do tend to step lively with a mid/fore foot strike. I'm bouncin' like the Doo Dah man.

Doo Dah

The last two pair of shoes I bought to wear to work in an office environment are as flat as I could find. Using Vibram fivefingers for a little over a month is working well for me. I know minimal is not for everybody but how does one know if one does not give it a try. Worst case: your feet fall off and you die.

Edited by gmatthews on 04/30/2011 17:57:51 MDT.

Terry Trimble
(socal-nomad) - F

Locale: North San Diego county
shoes for a over pronation on 05/02/2011 10:12:09 MDT Print View

When I sold athletic shoes almost everybody pronates to some extent. Very few people are supinations problems.

I have found all foot problems are problems with your stride and just takes some retraining how to run or walk smoothly.

I developed pronation problems when I use to run some heavy mileage back when I was younger. I read a article in runners magazine about smoothing out your running style by pretending that their is board above your head with nails in it and to use very little side arm movement to smooth out your stride my pronation problems went away. I also increased my speed in races learning more efficient way to run.
I also did some reading about how Native american indians tried to walk with their feet pointed straight ahead instead of outward or inward to use less energy. This also helped quite a bit also.

I did start to over pronate when I put on a lot weight back a few years ago then I lost the excess weight and then the problem went away.

But if you want shoes for over pronation a shoe with strong heel cup and denser foam
under the instep will help. If you have a foot problem orthotics from a podiatrist may work to correct your over pronation. Personally for me they only pinched and raised your feet out of the shoe and got blisters on my heel from raising out of the heel cup.