Sunday, February 7, 2021

Motion Control Shoes To Control Overpronation?

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Most of our patients choose their running shoes based on comfort. Recently, we've had a few new patients who were told to buy motion control shoes to control pronation. Yes, there are still sales people from running shoe shops, doctors, physiotherapists and podiatrists etc who recommend running shoes based on their foot type

They will check if you have a normal, high, low/ or no arches and then recommend you use stability, cushion and motion control shoes respectively. The rationale for motion control shoes are that since a person with low or no arches tends to overpronate, they need sturdy motion control shoes to control that overpronation.

What does current research say?

327 runners were studied and followed up for six months by researchers. The runners were randomly allocated to run in neutral running shoes or motion control shoes (Malisoux et al, 2016). The researchers concluded that runners who used motion control shoes will benefit those with low/ no arches (or or pronated feet).

Another group of researchers (Willems et al, 2020) reanalyzed data from Malisoux's 2016 study to include type of injury sustained. Malisoux was also in this current group of researchers. Running injuries that occurred were classified into pronation related (Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, exercise related lower leg pain and anterior knee pain) or other running related injuries.

Upon analysis, 25 runners were found to have sustained pronation related injuries while 68 other runners had other running related injuries. Those who ran with a motion control shoe had a lower risk or pronation related injuries while there was no difference on the risk of other running related injuries.

The above mentioned results differs from previous published research on motion control shoes which showed that runners who overpronated and assigned to run in motion control shoes actually complained of pain and missed training days after wearing them (Ryan et al 2011). Another published study involving 927 new runners also found that pronation is not associated with increased injury risk.

The contrast in conclusions will no doubt confuse you. I was initially confused too. It is always difficult to combine multiple sources and research methods to come away with practical results because the definitions vary.

The main question for me in the Willems et al (2020) study is how do they really know any of the running injuries are 'pronation related'? They also defined injury as pain interfering with training for 1 day. Other studies defined injury as no running for a week.

My suggestion is to assess individual response to change in footwear and see if it reduces pain/ injury. If it does, then you should lay off that pair of running shoes for a while before trying it again. 


Nielsen RO, Buist I, Parner ET et al (2014). Foot Pronation Is Not Associated With Increased Injury Risk In Novice Runners Wearing A Neutral Shoe: A 1-year Prospective Cohort Study. BJSM. 48: 440-447. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092202

Malisoux L Chambon N, Delattre N (2016). Injury Risk In Runners Using Standard Or Motion Control Shoes: A randomised Controlled Trial With Participant And Assessor Blinding. BJSM. 50(8): 481-487. DOI: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095031

Ryan MB, Valiant GA, McDonald K et al (2011). The Effect Of Footwear Stability Levels On Pain Outcomes In Women Runners: A Randomised Control Trial. BJSM. 45:715-721. DOI:10.1136/bjsm.2009.069849 

Willems T, Ley C, Goetghebeur E et al (2020). Motion Control Shoes Reduce The Risk Of Pronation-related Pathologies In Recreational Runners: A Secondary Analysis Of A Randomized Controlled Trial. JOSPT. pp 1-31. DOI: 10.25

rent Malisoux,
Nicolas Chambon,
Nicolas Delattre,
Nils Guegu

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