And the latest question in our Ask a Coach series comes from Samantha…
Samantha: I am a moderate overpronator and was wondering if it would be harmful to incorporate running with the nike free (designed to simulate barefoot running) into my training. Would it hurt my form and my body?
Run SMART Coach, Vince Sherry: The Nike Free Run is designed to work for mild to moderate overpronation. If you look at the bottom of the shoe you’ll notice that it looks flat and rather broad under the arch. This allows for optimal surface area to come into contact with both the ground and your foot. Due to the Free’s large surface area and low profile you should find that you do not pronate any more in the Free than you would in an average stability shoe. The difference is in torsional rigidity (the stiffness of the shoe under the arch). The Free is hot-knifed (the process that creates the slices throughout the mid sole), to accomplish flexibility. An average stability shoe is reinforced in the arch area, to relieve stress on the plantar fascia. The Free is designed to allow the structure of the foot to work naturally, while a stability shoe is designed to absorb the majority of the stress before it reaches your foot.
If you’ve been running in stability shoes your feet are likely the weakest link, when running in minimal shoes or barefoot. If you’re going to try the Free I would recommend starting off by wearing them while walking around for the first couple of weeks (especially if you rarely go barefoot). After that point you can wear them for about 10% of your total weekly mileage. You could start a few runs a week in your current shoe, then swap to the Frees and get a couple laps around the block to finish. From that point use your judgment, but be cautious. It takes time to build foot strength, just like building mileage for a marathon. It should be a gradual progression.
Other minimal options to consider for mild to moderate overpronation:
Saucony Progrid Kinvara: Similar concept to the Free, with slightly less arch support and a lower profile.
Brooks Racer ST 4: Stability racing flat. Think stabilty shoe, with lower profile and more “natural” feel.
Mizuno Wave Musha: Stability racing flat. Similar to the Racer ST… Light weight and low profile with stability shoe type support and structure.