Cushioned Running Shoes Linked to Over Pronation Problems

There are a number of factors that contribute to running injuries and over ponation problems is one of them.

Runners need to be reminded that pronation (hindfoot movements of the foot during the stance of running) isn’t all that bad. In fact, some degree of pronation is needed for shock absorption. But did you know that cushioned running shoes may contribute greatly to the over-pronation problems implicated in common lower leg injuries?

Over Pronation Problems

Most of the arguments barefoot running advocates make is that a strong foot has the ability to control pronation and so, running shoes with stability features aren’t needed for injury prevention. This is why I truly believe barefoot running training is a more sensible approach in strengthening the anti-pronatory muscles within the foot rather than investing so much into costly stability running shoes.

How to Prevent an Over Pronating Foot

In running, an over pronating foot is widely accepted as a biomechanical abnormality which typically generates high amounts of joint and bone stresses, but did you know that the foot pronates less during forefoot running than in heel strike running? This may be one of the reasons that forefoot runners suffer less injuries than heel strike runners (Daoud et al. 2012).

Aside from foot strike, what else causes a runner to overpronate?

There could be many reasons, such as shoe type, that causes overpronation during running.

How Traditional Running Shoes Affect Pronation

Denoth (1986) found that traditional running shoes doubled pronation-inducing torque during running. This is why forefoot runners should beware of traditional running shoes (i.e. running shoes with a stacked up heel) and should stick with barefoot like running shoes.

Why traditional running shoes cause overpronation resides in the fact that they increase ground contact time as compared with barefoot like running shoes, and longer ground contact time increases shifts in unnecessary foot motions, making it difficult for the runner to stave of lower leg pain and injury.

Over Pronation Problems

  • Wearing barefoot-like running shoes, or running barefoot rather than running in traditional running shoes automatically strengthens the foot/ankle complex. And, wearing less on your feet forces you to pick up your feet, thereby shortening contact time and limiting the amount of pronation.

The Take Home Message

Overpronation is not that tricky to prevent because wearing barefoot like running shoes makes a world of difference as they are an effective deterrent of abnormal foot motions. You will find that less protection on your feet will force you to have quicker leg retraction or foot removal, and therefore, less ground contact time. And also, less padding makes it easier to control natural foot motions because it makes for a more stable landing surface during running.

Click here to find out why shoe cushioning destabilizes landings during running.

More From Run Forefoot:

Non-Heel Strike Landing Helps Back Pain  – Find out why the farther you land away from your heels during running, the less impact on the back.

Why Older Runners Need Barefoot Shoes – Learn how barefoot like running shoes can help any runner, especially older runners, stay injury-free.

How to Make Your Stride Smooth – Research suggests that stride smoothness depends on foot strike.

Running with Rigidity – Find out why heel strike runners have a more ‘choppy’, rigid gait than forefoot runners and why gait rigidity may cause injury.

More Bad News on Traditional Running Shoes – Here I talk about how traditional running shoes influence poor performance.

Proper Running Shoes – Need help finding the right shoe for forefoot running? Here are my reviews on barefoot like running shoes that will help you maintain your forefoot strike and keep your legs and feet strong.


Daoud et al. Foot strike and injury rates in endurance runners: a retrospective study. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 2012; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3182465115

Denoth J. Load on the locomotor system and modeling. In Nigg BM, editor. Biomechanics of
the Shoe. Champaign IL: Human Kinetics, 1986. p. 64-116.

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

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