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Neutral Versus Stability Running Shoes

Estimated read time: 7 minutes.

Running is one of the best exercises in the world. You can run for fun or compete in a marathon race. The secret to excellent performance is the running shoes you wear. The best running shoe provides support and foundation for your whole body.

Additionally, using the right shoe helps in preventing unnecessary injuries and makes it more enjoyable when exercising. Basically, the best perfect pair will fit well from the start and complement your body and running style.

This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to learn about neutral and stability shoes. Keep on reading to find out more insightful information.

What Are Neutral Shoes?

If you have a proper running style, a neutral running shoe is a perfect match for you. These running shoes are perfect for people whose feet make contact with the ground. Additionally, wearing neutral shoes during jogging or exercising reduces weighing down your feet or prevents unnecessary support.

First of all, you must determine your pronation rate. Having this information will help you to know the right shoes for you. In case you have a problem finding a matching shoe, you can visit any store and seek help from the experts. Neutral shoes are perfect for people who run with proper form, and it’s approximated to be 50 to 60% of runners.

Basically, neutral running shoes are lighter and faster because they are not equipped with extra material and thicker cushions. Also, these shoes have a more curved design that makes them faster and more efficient to use.

Furthermore, neutral running shoes are suitable for everyone without any physical issues. These shoes are pretty simple to identify. They have a slab of the same density midsole foam that offers proper cushioning in the shoe. Make sure you consider the zero drop shoe that is completely flat on the bottom.

The design of running shoes keeps evolving to cater for different styles and needs. The latest designs are stable neutral shoes. The way the wave plate is designed provides mild stability to the runner. These new models are slightly different but still comfy and easy to run with.

Features of Neutral Running Shoes

As the name suggests, neutral shoes don’t have any complications. The best neutral shoe tends to have the following features:

  • They flex naturally and respond to the runner’s feet.
  • They sit pretty low to the ground.
  • Lightweight enough to allow long-distance running.
  • Strong enough to endure daily training.
  • Have a better proportion of cushioning in the heel.

What Are Stability Shoes?

Stability shoes are designed for runners that roll their feet inwards. Basically, stability running shoes are heavier because they are built with stabilizing technology such as the Dynamic DuoMax used in ASICS Gel-Kayano 27. This advanced technology protects your feet from roll or excessive pronation.

Nevertheless, stability shoes are not everyone’s design. If you don’t suffer from pronation, there is no need for buying stability shoes. The risk part of excessive pronation is that it affects how the body handles shock absorption. The normal pronation for a person when running is 15 degrees. Anything more or less than that can cause severe injuries.

People with excess pronation should choose maximum support shoes that are tailored for overall shock absorption. They are the best designs for people with weak arches as they provide support and balance.

Features of a Good Stability Shoe

The following are the key stability features to consider when buying new shoes:

  • Dual Density Foam: This foam is a wedge placed between the midfoot and midsole. Its main work is to help the foot to roll inward less. The high density of the form helps to support the foot without being heavy. Additionally, it helps in shock absorption for the arches.
  • Midfoot Shanks: Most stability shoes have plastic pieces between the outsole and midsole. These shanks support the foot’s natural shape while running. Also, they help protect the shoe design and prevent early wear out.
  • Guide Railings: Many stability shoes have guide rails to provide support to the midsole. They help the foot to align correctly and support weaker arches.
  • Midfoot Overlays: The upper part of stability shoes keeps the foot snugly in place. The overlays work with guide railings to align the foot.
  • Good Saddles: Saddles are overlays that help to provide a secure and comfortable fit for the runner.
  • Heel Counter: These counters wrap the back and side of the heel. They work by keeping your heel snug and secure.
  • Lacing Pattern: The laces’ pattern plays an important role in maintaining stability for runners. A good design should support your arches and make you comfortable.

Determining Your Foot Pronation

Pronation is a common term you’ll come across when discussing running shoes. It refers to the natural way your foot rolls inward when hitting the ground and propelling forward. There are three different types of foot pronations:

Neutral Pronation

Neutral or basic pronation is the normal way of landing legs when you are running. Whenever your foot rolls inward, it enables your body to absorb impact and release pressure on the knees and joints. The best running shoes for neutral runners are neutral shoes as they work for mild pronators. These shoes don’t use motion control features to enhance performance.

Overpronation

Some runners are overpronators. Their feet roll inwards excessively, putting them at the risk of injuries. Overpronators require stability or motion control shoes to provide support. Also, stability shoes are not rigid like the motion control shoes. To tell whether you are an overpronator, look for patterns of wear near the big toe and the inside sole of the back of your shoe.

Underpronation

Supination or underpronation is when your foot moves outwards when striking the ground. Not many runners supinate; the few who do may require shoes with more cushion. The easiest way to tell if you are an underpronator is by checking the wear marks along the outer edge of the sole.

wear pattern v2
Right shoe that is showing the wear pattern.

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes

If you find buying new running shoes a difficult task, we’ve got your back. These are the key things you can do when buying running shoes:

Analyze Your Running Gait

The easiest way to analyze your gait is by running on a treadmill and using a camera to capture your steps. Replaying the video in slow motion will help you to know the type of runner you are. Alternatively, you can hire a professional to study and analyze your feet and advise the right shoe. The pronation of your foot rolls will decide whether you need a stability or neutral shoes. These pronations are neutral, overpronation, and supination.

Running Ground

Decide where you are going to run. Is it on a treadmill, gravel paths, or trail running? Every running shoe is designed for a specific surface.

Road running shoes are light, flexible, flat, and with smooth soles. The designs enable them to create a consistent surface for paved roads.

Trail running shoes are made for rough terrains with mud, rocks, and other obstacles. These shoes have bigger lugs, have a stiffer heel, and are enhanced with plates.

Another type is cross-training shoes that are suitable for gyms and in-door training. They are lightweight and with a balanced sole.

Consider Cushioning

Choose if you want more or less cushioning underfoot. The thickness of the cushion and firmness of the foam are critical features to remember. Most runners prefer medium size cushioning to enjoy each stride while maintaining contact with the ground. There are different types of cushions:

Maximum cushion shoes have thick padding in the midsoles to offer the ultimate feeling. Many runners opt for maximum cushion when going on long distances or multi day races. Some shoes have moderate cushions that balance between pillow-soft and slim cushions. The minimal cushion shoes are the favorite type for many runners. These shoes offer a great connection of the foot and the ground.

Choose the Right Shoe Size

Another significant element to remember is to pick the right size that fits your foot. Wearing the right size will make you feel comfortable while running. While testing your new pair of running shoes, aim for the thumbnail length and make sure you can move your toe. Additionally, you should consider footbeds or aftermarket insoles that enhance support.

Be Flexible To Different Options

Do not be rigid in your choices. Try to be flexible and open to as many options as possible. The more options you have, the better decisions you will make.

Understand the Shoe Drop

Generally speaking, the drop of a shoe affects the way your feet pronate. Most traditional running shoes have a drop of around 10mm or higher. The shoes have a lot of cushion in the heel. On the other hand, zero drop shoes have an equal amount of cushion beneath the heel and all the toes. The less the drop, the more support a shoe provides the runner by lowering the impact stride than a heel strike.

Which Is the Best Shoe – Neutral Or Stability Shoes?

The decision to buy neutral or stability shoes depends on various factors. Neutral shoes work in a simple way, and with neutral shoes, you get less support than the stability shoe. The main function of these shoes is supporting your most natural moving strides. The things you must consider include foot strike, the shape of the feet, and whether you overpronate or supinate when running.

If you want to choose between the two running shoes, you must keep in mind the strongness and flexibility of the arches. Runners with high arches require more support, while the low arch support shock absorption is provided by stability shoes.

However, you’ll find that some running shoes don’t provide the flexibility you need. The good thing is that you can test out different brands before choosing the right running shoes.

If you are a runner with high arches, it can be hard to absorb shock while you are running. Additionally, it can cause your weight distribution to be thrown off, discomfort, or even injuries. 

Many runners with high arched feet need a shoe that provides enough arch support. Neutral shoes are best for high arch runners because they have a curved design that helps to supplement a flexible high arch.

Running shoes with medium and low arches are the best designs for walking, jogging, and any other physical exercises. The problem with a low or flat arch is that it causes the runner’s feet to be too low on the ground. In addition, they let the foot to flex naturally and motion control.

Lastly, if you are an overpronator, you require shoes with good support from the inside to prevent your ankles from turning inward on impact. Such runners need shoes with enough midfoot and midsole support. The top recommended running shoes for overpronators are stability.

With this information at hand, you can choose the best running shoes that fit and match your feet.

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