Running Shoes - Neutral Bias

Pictures of ASICS models

Some shoes for UNDER-pronators

(2008 Jan blog post)

I may change or augment this blog post in the future ---
to add new shoe models, or to clarify some points, or
to add web links for further information.

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Introduction

I am bow-legged and tend to land on the outside (lateral, not medial) edges of my feet when I am running. I am the opposite of an over-pronator. I am, as the shoe ads say, an "under-pronator" --- a.k.a. a "supinator".

Unfortunately for me, most running shoes made nowadays (or at least the ones they stock in most sporting goods stores) are "high-end" (i.e. high priced) shoes made for OVER-pronators.

You can tell these shoes by their asymmetric design ---

  • soft materials in wedges seen in outer sides of the heels
  • hard materials on the inner side of the middle of the soles

This particular bias in the use of soft and hard materials in the soles is designed to counter an over-pronator's tendency for the feet to collapse inward --- i.e. it is intended to counter a sort of knock-kneed tendency in those runners.

Since my tendency is the reverse (a bow-legged tendency rather than a knock-kneed tendency), I long for the old-days when running-shoe makers used a homogeneous material throughout the sole --- instead of varying materials in the sole.

Lucky for me, I have found several models of ASICS running shoes that are more suited to under-pronators (supinators) like me.

You will generally not find these ASICS models in stores that specialize in sporting goods, because such stores tend to stock "high-end" (more expensive) running shoes. The 'neutral' shoes, that I show here, tend to be mid-priced (about $40 to $70 --- instead of $90 to $120 or more).

The lower pricing, of these 'neutral' shoes, is probably because most of these shoes use the same material through almost the entire sole, which probably makes manufacturing less expensive. Furthermore, if there are lots of material inserts (material transitions in the soles), marketing departments can claim all kinds of special benefits to justify higher prices.

    If some of those material inserts were on the opposite sides of where they usually place them, the resulting shoes would probably be suitable to a bow-legged runner like me. But I have not been able to find any "opposite-bias" running shoes like that. The following ASICS shoes are the closest I have been able to find. These shoes are suitable for 'neutral' runners --- and will make do for under-pronators/supinators like me.

I have found these neutral-bias ASICS models in the shoe department of Kohl's department store and in the discount shoe chain Off Broadway Shoes --- for prices about $15 below the TSRP (Typical Suggested Retail Price).

There is further discussion of these shoes, below the pictures.

ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase "Anima Sana In Corpore Sano", which translates to something like "A sound mind in a sound body". This was probably meant to say, in brief, "You can have a sound mind in a sound body, but you are unlikely to have a sound mind in an unsound body".

Or, worded briefly in other ways, "An unsound body leads to an unsound mind" or "You're unlikely to have a sound mind in an unsound body".

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ASICS Gel Equation

Model TN723

TSRP = $70

 

 

 

ASICS Gel Kanbarra

Model TN725

TSRP = $60

 

 

 

ASICS Gel Lightning

Model TN630

TSRP = $55

 

 

 

ASICS Gel Oberon

Model TN726

TSRP = $60

 

 

 

ASICS Gel Maverick

Model TN727

TSRP = $50

 

 

 

ASICS Gel Strike

Model TN626

TSRP = $50

 

 

 

Discussion of ASICS neutral-bias models

The ASICS Gel Cumulus (not shown above ; shown below) is an example of a "high-end" shoe that is advertised as a shoe for neutral and under-pronating runners. I bought a pair of ASICS Gel Cumulus (model TN530, the Cumulus 7), since I am an under-pronator, BUT I found that they seemed quite disappointing when I tried them in a 5K run (knee pain).

On inspecting the construction of the shoe closely, I found that it had SOFT gel inserts toward the outside of the heels, thus biasing the back of the foot to collapse toward the OUTSIDE on each heel strike. This is the kind of design that is used for over-pronators, NOT under-pronators.

I think that ASICS may have addressed this situation in a later model of the Gel Cumulus --- the Cumulus 9 (model TN745) shown below. It looks like they have spread the gel insert in the heel across the full width of the heel --- eliminating the soft-bias toward the outside.

In any case, the Gel Equation (or Oberon, or Kanbarra, or Lightning, or Strike, or Maverick) may be a better shoe for under-pronators than the current Cumulus.

Now, instead of my Cumulus, I use Gel Lightnings in 'training' runs --- and I use Gel Equations on 'race' days. I will probably start using Gel Equations for both kinds of runs, as ASICS phases out the Gel Lightnings.

I put 'training' and 'race' in quotes because I am NOT a competitive runner. My times are really slow --- about 10 minute miles now (at age 65), with about 7.5 minute miles in my younger years (about age 38).


ASICS Gel Cumulus 9

Model TN745

TSRP = $90

 

 

 

The page of ASICS running shoes at asicsamerica.com groups the models named Equation (TN723), Oberon (TN726), Kanbarra (TN725), Strike (TN630) and Maverick (TN723) together and describes them as follows.

"Cushioning - Designed to meet the needs of underpronators to mild overpronators. This type of runner does not absorb shock naturally through pronation so they require a shoe with a great deal of shock attenuation."


There is another model, no longer shown at the ASICS-America website, that seems to be very similar in structure to the Oberon, Kanbarra, Strike, and Maverick. That is the Lightning (TN630). It is probably being phased out by ASICS, but it is still available (in 2007) at some shoe stores in my area (southeast Virginia).

The ASICS Lightning is a 'neutral' shoe --- like the Oberon, Kanbarra, Strike, and Maverick. That is, there is no stiffening material on the inner (medial) mid-sides of the shoes and no softening material at the outer (lateral) side of the heels --- which would be typical of shoes made for OVER-pronators --- to keep their foot from rolling inward during each pace forward.

I can get the Lightning (TN630) at A&N clothing stores in our area (in 2007-2008), for only $40. And I can get the Equation (TN723), Oberon (TN726), and Kanbarra (TN725) at a Kohl's department store in our area for about $45.


The Equation is a little different from the Lightning, Oberon, Kanbarra, and Maverick. It has a plastic stiffener in the MIDDLE of the shoe, under the sole, which is probably good for UNDER-PRONATORS --- to help keep them from rolling their foot outward on each footstrike, thus avoiding what could be a bad ankle sprain if the foot rolled laterally to an extreme.


In 2008, I use the Lightning for training runs. Then I use the Equation (for its firmer support for the OUTER heel) when I do races, like 5K runs.

When I wear out my two pairs of Lightnings, I will probably try a pair of Oberons that I bought ... and then maybe a pair of Kanbarras (or Strikes, or Mavericks), if they are still making them when I go to buy a pair. I expect the feel of these shoes to be very similar to the Lightnings.

These shoes (Equation, Oberon, Kanbarra, Strike, Maverick, Lightning) have an ASICS-suggested price of $50 to $70. ($70 for the Equation --- probably because of the plastic stiffener.)

The ASICS site has a couple of more expensive models --- the Cumulus (TN745) and the Nimbus (TN743) --- at suggested prices of $90 and $120 --- that are also suggested for neutral-to-under-pronating runners.

Most running stores and sporting goods stores (Sports Authority and Dick's Sporting Goods) stock the Nimbus and the Cumulus, but not the lower priced shoes for under-pronators.


I bought a pair of Cumulus shoes (model TN530), but I found I got knee pains. As mentioned above, I think that happened because there are soft gel pads visible in the outer part of the heels. They seem to make my under-pronation (supination) worse. I can see that those soft gel pads are located in a good place for OVER-pronators --- to help them keep their heels, and the rest of their foot, from rolling inward. BUT, for that reason, I think the Cumulus (model TN530) is more appropriate for mild OVER-pronators, NOT for UNDER-pronators.

For my situation, I find the less expensive ASICS shoes (the Equation and the Lightning --- or the Oberon or Kanbarra or Maverick or Strike --- when the Lightning is no longer available) to be much more suited to my supinating tendency in running.


In summary, for me, the ASICS models that are homogeneous in material all the way around the sole are the best shoes that I have found to accomodate my UNDER-pronated running. I avoid shoes with stiffening material on the inside (medial) portion of the mid-foot. And I avoid shoes with softer materials in the outside (lateral) portions of the heels.

That type of "bias-ing" of the shoe (stiff sole on the 'in' side, soft heel on the 'out' side) may be good for OVER-pronators --- but it certainly is not good for my SUPINATING (outward rolling) feet.

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Page was created 2008 Jan 22.
Added page breaks for better printing 2009 Oct 26.
Minor format changes 2013 Apr 18.