It is generally considered that overpronators should never wear neutral shoes in a healthy shoe rotation.
The most problematic word in that last statement is never, as dealing in absolutes will inevitably have holes in its logic.
As a general rule, runners with overpronation can wear neutral shoes. However, neutral shoes should not be their everyday running shoes.
BUT there are a lot of things to consider before you put your flat food inside a neutral shoe and go for a run, so let’s go over all of it.
Can Overpronators Wear Neutral Shoes? Let's Explain
Quick Lesson: What is Overpronation? Pronation? Supination?
The Pedorthic Association of Canada (PAC) defines Overpronation as “a condition in which the foot rolls inward and down. The arch may elongate and collapse (or ‘fall’) and the heel will lean inward.”
Some of the common conditions observed in overpronators are:
- Heel pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Low back discomfort
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures in the foot or lower leg
The PAC goes on to note that overpronation should NOT be confused with pronation, which is “a normal movement of the foot during weight-bearing, allowing the foot to absorb shock as it contacts the ground.”
This is what most runners seek to achieve, having the right amount of pronation to displace the absorbed shock during the ground contact phase of the gait cycle.
On the other hand, the often less talked about condition is Under pronation.
PAC defines under pronation as “a condition commonly referred to as supination. An under-pronated foot structure may have an abnormally high arch or instep that has very little flexibility when standing.
The heel often leans outward, putting more weight on the outer edge of the foot. Callousing is common under the knuckle of the baby toe because of the weight on the outside of the foot.”
It is important to cover this condition along with the others because it’s common for runners to fear pronation so much that it actually leads to under pronation, which can cause just as many possible injuries.
Here are some of the conditions found in under pronators:
- Heel pain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- IT Band Syndrome
- Lateral ankle sprains
Now that we understand the working definitions of each word, we can talk about why neutral runners can (or can’t) wear stability shoes.
We will look at the arguments for and against neutral runners wearing stability shoes, and come to a conclusion at the end based on the evidence provided by both arenas.
Why Overpronators Can Wear Neutral Shoes
So there are a couple of reasons that overpronators can indeed wear neutral shoes from time to time, but keep in mind that you should always check with your doctor to make sure these conditions can safely apply to you.
1. Use Neutral Shoes to Strengthen Your Feet and Arches
So this might be the most applicable case for the over pronators out there. You can use a neutral shoe strategically to strengthen your feet and arches while you walk around.
Keep in mind that you may not want to use these shoes for any sort of running activities, but if you plan on working out at the home or in a gym then it could benefit you to wear neutral shoes to allow your arches and ankles to go through a full range of motion and get just a little extra workout in that area.
You should definitely ease into this routine, as too much too soon could put you in danger of injury, but it can be beneficial for some to walk around and work out in a neutral shoe for 30 minutes to 1 hour every other day.
If you think this could help you, then consider giving it a try.
2. Increase Balance and Stability
If your foot is used to wearing a stability shoe that has an extra posting or guide filling in your arch or guiding your foot all of the time then it can lead to some slight imbalances and a decrease in natural stability.
This is when wearing a neutral shoe every so often for low-impact activities can help keep you in touch with some natural balance and stability in your feet and ankles.
Merely allowing your ankles to go through a full range of motion from time to time can give them a little bit of a workout, and will activate all of the little muscles in your calves and feet more so than a stability shoe.
Once again, keep in mind that you should be very careful going right into this, doing too much can increase your risk of injury.
3. Get A Very Cushioned Shoe
It is no secret that stability shoes often mean that you need to settle for a stiffer shoe that does not feel quite as comfortable as other options.
Neutral shoes have come a long way as well, and some highly plush and cushioned options out there can provide some real day-to-day comfort for your feet and legs through that softness in the midsole.
The great thing about these shoes being so densely packed with cushioning is that you actually do get some inherent stability within the shoe as well. This can usually give you just enough support so that you won’t increase your risk of injury.
- THIS WOMEN'S SHOE IS FOR: The Ghost 13 is for runners looking for a reliable shoe that's soft and smooth. The Ghost 13 offers improved transitions for zero distractions so you can focus more on what matters most: your run. This Brooks Ghost 13 is a certified PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe and has been granted the APMA Seal of Acceptance.
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 12
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.
Here is my favorite cushioned neutral option that we think can work for many overpronators as well.
Why Over Pronators Can’t Wear Neutral Shoes
For all of the possible good that wearing a neutral shoe can do for those who overpronate, there are still some reasons that probably make it a bad idea to try neutral shoes for some with more severe flat feet or overpronation issues.
We do not really need a list for this section, as it all boils down to the fact that it just might not be safe for those with severe cases.
If you have had chronic or acute pain as a result of flat feet or overpronation then it is probably best that you go FULL RANGE STABILITY and go all-in of providing yourself with as much support as possible.
In this case, you should go see a specialist, who might recommend a certain shoe for you or even make you some custom orthotics that fit you perfectly and will correct the exact issues that you have been having.
This all depends primarily on the severity of your condition and your goals. If you are a young adult who overpronates but still has aspirations to become a great runner, then you might find yourself testing out methods of strengthening and treating your symptoms.
However, if you are a 65+ year old that has some severe flat feet and health consequences from that, then maybe the goal is to just increase the overall quality of life so you can get out of bed and walk around with less pain.
When it comes to the question: can overpronators wear neutral shoes?
The best piece of advice we can give you is to consult your doctor and get a professional opinion based on the severity of your individual condition.
While there may be some benefits to fitting in a neutral shoe from time to time, it is best to make sure that you see progress and are not intensifying any current pain or lasting damage.
Hi, Jeremy Here,
I am the the guy behind Train for a 5K. On this site, I share everything that learned along my running journey. The content I create is the running training I wish I had before we started this journey. About Me.
Last update on 2023-09-25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API