Pronation, Overpronation, Underpronation, Foot Types And Choosing The Right Footwear



Today we’re going to take a detailed look into choosing the perfect shoes for you. There are specific aspects which come with choosing the right footwear such as understanding your pronation, looking at your foot type and understanding what features work best for you.

Understanding pronation

Pronation is quite simply the motion of your foot rolling from the heel to your toe as your foot strikes the ground when you walk or run. Everyone walks and runs slightly differently, and this is why there are three different types of pronation. When choosing the right pair of running shoes, it’s very important to know which type you have.

Neutral pronation

Neutral pronation is the most common type. This is the action of the foot making impact with the outside of the heel and rolling up to the ball of your foot nice and evenly, about 15 degrees inward. This means you are distributing the stress of the impact proportionately and are pushing off evenly from the front of the foot.



Overpronation will again make initial contact with the outside of the heel. However, when the foot continues to roll, the ball of your foot will tilt inward more than the ideal 15 degrees. This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body and shock isn’t absorbed efficiently. At the end of the cycle the front of the foot is mainly pushing off of the big and second toe causing an excessive force.

Related: Best walking shoes for overpronation

overpronation of the foot

Severe overpronation

You can also have a severe overpronation which means the ball of the foot will roll excessively inwards causing great pressure on the big toe as you walk or run.

severe overpronation of the foot

Underpronation/ Supination

Underpronation means the foot will make contact with the ground with the outside of the heel. However, the foot will then continueS to roll onto the outside of the foot. This means the impact is forced onto a concentrated area of the foot, and when pushing off, the pressure is most applied to the smaller toes.

underpronation or supination of the foot

Understanding foot types

Pronation is generally associated to the height of your arch or general foot type. The arch of your foot is simply the middle area of the foot and this varies from person to person ranging from people with flat feet all the way up to a high arch.

arch of the foot

How can you know your foot type?

One of the simplest ways to know the foot type you have is by performing the Wet Test. This is a very simple method and all you need is a small bowl or tray, some water, and a piece of cardboard.

Step one

Pour the water into your container and place the cardboard on the floor.

Step two

Softly place your bare foot into the container ensuring to get all areas wet.

Step three

Remove your foot from the container shaking off any excess water and gently place it onto your cardboard. Stand normally for a few seconds then remove your foot. The shape of your foot will now appear on the board, and depending on what shape you see is how you classify your foot type.

Determining your foot type

Normal arch 

A normal arch is generally associated with a neutral pronation. You have a distinct curve along the inside of the foot and in the middle should be a little less than half the width of your foot.

normal arched foot neutral

High arch

A high arch is mostly linked to underpronation or supination. You will see a very sharp curve along the inside of the foot and your center width is very thin.

high arched foot

Low arch or flat feet

A low arch is generally associated with overpronation which can lead to overuse injuries. There’s not much of a curve along the inside and your imprint shows a large percentage of the entire area of your foot. In instances of sever overpronation you will see the entire area of your foot mark.

Related: Best running shoes for flat feet

flat feet arch

Choosing the correct running shoe

So now you know what your foot type is and what type of pronation you have. It is time to choose the correct running shoe.

Motion control shoes

Motion control shoes prevent your foot from rolling too far. They have a straight shape to give maximum support to your foot and are the most rigid, control-oriented shoes.

Cushioned shoes

Cushioned shoes allow your feet to roll inward absorbing shock. They have a curved shape to encourage foot motion and have the softest midsole with the least medial support.

Stability shoes

Stability shoes offer a good blend of cushioning, medial support and durability. They often have a semi-curved shape and don’t control foot motion as strictly as motion control shoes. Below is a simple chart which clarifies all the foot and pronation types into which category of footwear you will want to be looking at.

  • If you area an overpronator, you will definitely want to be looking at a motion control shoe and possibly a stability style if you have a mild overpronation for that added control.
  • If you have a neutral pronation, you will have a choice of either a stability or cushioned range for extra support or comfort.
  • If you are an underpronator / supinator, you will simply want to look at the cushioned range to give you the added shock absorbency.

So that’s a detailed look into pronation, foot types, and choosing the perfect footwear for you. We hope this has been of help and please feel free to leave a comment.

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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