Those with a heavier frame might think that they need a special shoe to keep them safer from the impact and force distribution.
Most will lean towards a stability shoe because they provide some extra guidance that can better align the ankles, knees, and hips. But is this actually helpful?
The short answer is yes, overweight runners can wear stability shoes, but that is not the real question here is it? The question you want to be answered is: should overweight runners wear stability shoes?
As the old adage goes...it depends! So let’s go over the scenarios you might be facing and get your question answered.
Can Overweight Runners Wear Stability Shoes?
What Do Stability Shoes Actually Do?
Let’s quickly cover some of the general reasons someone would wear a stability shoe in the first place, as it does not always have to do with the frame of a runner, but rather the biomechanical needs each runner may have.
Stability shoes help stop or slow the rate of overpronation through the heel-to-toe off.
Well, what is overpronation? What is pronation in general?
What is Overpronation?
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.”
Common conditions observed in overpronators are:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinopathy
- Low back discomfort
- Shin splints
- Stress fractures in the foot or lower leg
What is Pronation?
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 about the sweet spot that most runners seek to achieve, where there is just the right amount of pronation to displace the absorbed shock during the ground contact phase of the gait cycle.
Now that we understand the working definitions of each word, we can talk about why heavier runners should (or should not) wear stability shoes.
How Do Stability Shoes Work?
As we said before, the primary objective of any stability shoe is to stop or slow the rate of pronation.
Science has not yet told us if it is better to merely slow, or stop overpronation altogether, but modern anecdotal evidence points to slowing the rate of pronation as a better choice overall, as it allows the muscles in your lower leg to still get stronger from pronation, just with a decreased risk of overtraining or injury.
Traditionally, a solid medial posting has been inserted along the arch of the foot to pretty much just stop pronation.
Nowadays shoe companies opt for a more dynamic approach to stability.
We see the use of guide rails and dynamic stability frames put in place to slow the rate of pronation rather than stop it completely.
Currently, I am not willing to state what philosophy is better than the other, because, like with most things, I think it depends on the individual needs and desires of the person wearing the shoe.
Should Overweight Runners Wear Stability Shoes?
There is a reason why we covered the varying degrees of pronation and overpronation earlier in this article, and that is because it will help us answer this question for you right now!
Whether or not a heavier runner should wear stability shoes is entirely up to their level of (over)pronation.
Refer to the graphic above, if you find yourself looking like the leg to the far left (overpronation) then you should definitely be wearing stability shoes (regardless of your weight).
If you are somewhere in the range of the two images to the right (natural pronation or neutral), then you can feel free to just wear a standard neutral running shoe (once again, regardless of your weight).
Now that we have your question answered in a general sense, your question now is if you need a shoe with stability (slow rate of pronation), or motion control (stop pronation entirely).
Do I Need a Stability or Motion Control Shoe?
If you have decided that you do indeed need a stability feature in your shoe, it’s now important to dig one step deeper to decide if you need general stability or some real motion control.
This will once again depend on a couple of different factors, but the primary influencer will be the severity of your overpronation, and if it is causing you pain or injuries.
NOTE: The best way to see exactly what you need is to find a specialty running shoe store and ask the experts inside to take you through a fitting process. They will analyze your gait cycle and fit you with the exact pair of those that you need.
But if you are short on time and want to know how to self-diagnose and treat yourself, let’s cover that really quickly.
General Stability Shoes
If you notice that all you need is a little bit of extra guidance and support to keep your body aligned while running, then a general stability shoe is a good choice.
Furthermore, most of these stability shoe models are designed to just slow the rate of pronation, so they can also be worn by a neutral runner if they so desire. It will help as much as it needs to, but will not cause any “overcorrection” in your stride either.
Here are some of our picks for the best general stability shoes:
Motion Control Shoes
A quick piece of advice is to see a specialist and get a professional diagnosis for this problem, as you may need some custom orthotics made to ensure proper care is taken in severe cases.
If you find yourself suffering from severe overpronation, but may not need custom orthotics, then you will want to go in for a pair of motion control shoes, as they are your best bet to find comfort, and hopefully, decrease the intensity of your painful symptoms.
Here are our picks for some of the best motion control shoes:
Keep in mind that these motion control shoes are for those seeking to continue running, but in more severe cases you might need a motion control shoe that provides even more support and stability than these, and may have to stop running for a time as you treat your condition.
Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the biomechanical reasons for your stability shoe needs.
While weight may have an influence on your gait cycle, as feet tend to flatten out when too much weight is put on them over time, it does not actually play a specific role in how much stability you will need in a running shoe.
I have seen many runners with a larger frame still have an incredibly neutral gait cycle and wear very learn-neutral shoes. Conversely, I have seen some very small runners require lots of stability in their shoes.
The best thing you can do is to assess your individual needs and for yourself with a shoe that will set you up for the most success in your running journey.
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