What To Look For
Underpronation, also known as supination, is the foot rolling outwards at the ankle. Because the foot is a complex part of the body, providing mobility sometimes across uneven surfaces while maintaining the body's balance, some underpronation is normal while walking or exercising.
When underpronation becomes excessive, it may generate severe pain as well as damage to the tissue in the feet. Common symptoms are pain through the foot's arch or heel. In prolonged cases, underpronation also can cause back and knee pain. Stability also may become impaired in extreme cases, and medical conditions such a plantar fasciitis and heel spurs can result.
While shoe inserts that support the heel and outside of the foot can offset underpronation, the best solution is to acquire shoes that are designed to offset any tendency of the foot to roll outward. Look for flexible shoes with a soft midsole to act as shock absorbers for your feet. Pertinent keywords when shopping are "flexible" or "cushioned."
Running and walking shoes once were generic in construction with little attention to the tendencies of feet to roll outward or inward depending on their physical characteristics, such as abnormally high or low arches. Inexpensive shoes often offer little to offset underpronation.
Where To Buy
Larger cities have stores that specialize in athletic shoes and are a logical choice for anyone seeking walking or running shoes specifically built to offset underpronation. They can be found online or in commercial telephone directories. Sales staff are likely to be more familiar with foot orientation and how to correct for problems.
Larger outdoor-equipment retailers, such as REI and Eastern Mountain Sports, often have similarly knowledgeable sales staffs who can guide your purchase.
Certain shoe manufacturers are known for walking and running shoes that correct for underpronation, including Asics, New Balance, Brooks, Saucony, Aetrex and Mizuno. Online shoe retailers such as FootSmart and Mephisto Finest Walking Shoes specialize in footwear that compensates for underpronation.
Shoes specifically built to offset underpronation sold by manufacturers listed above generally range in price from about $60 to $130. FootSmart sells such brands. Mephisto offers its own line of shoes ranging from $200 to $400.
While many athletic shoe manufacturers make walking shoes designed to compensate for underpronation and use a variety of cushioning technologies, the choice of the appropriate footwear ultimately is personal and should be based on fit, comfort, aesthetics and perceived value.
A variety of shoe inserts and ankle wraps offer additional help offsetting underpronation. FootSmart makes it own line of equipment. Other prevalent brands include IsoArch, BandIT, Spenco, Royce and TruFit.
Article Written By Gary Olson
Gary Olson is a freelance writer, editor, photographer and designer with 34 years of experience. His work has appeared in such publications as Sailing, Northwest Living, 5280, The Arizona Republic, The Denver Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.