3 basic types of running shoes

When shopping for new running shoes, there are 3 basic shoe types that are commonly recommended for runners. Here is a brief summary of each shoe type:

Neutral

Neutral shoes are designed for feet with a high arch. Lighter weight runners with normal arches may be able to get away with neutral shoes as well. These shoes offer very little additional support for the foot. Ideally, most runners wearing a neutral shoe will have pretty efficient biomechanics and won’t pronate too much. Neutral shoes have a very curved shape and posting (use of different density midsoles), or denser cushioning in order to slow the foot’s natural rate of pronation.

Support/Stability

Support shoes are designed for the runner with a moderate or “normal” arch. These runners need some additional support for their foot since they will pronate some. Support shoes generally use cushioning of different densities to slow the foot’s rate of pronation and prevent injuries. The use of different density midsoles is referred to as “posting.” The outside (lateral side) of the heel will generally be a regular density foam and as the foot rolls inward, it will encounter a denser foam that slows the foot’s pronation and keeps it from rolling too far inward. Support shoes are cut along a straighter line than neutral shoes, but they still have some curve.

Motion Control

Motion control shoes are designed for maximum support of the foot. These shoes are targeted towards a flat foot with a low arch. They use the same method as support shoes to “block” the foot from overpronating. Many motion control shoes also use a hard TPU (thermal plastic unit) piece in conjunction with denser cushioning to really support the foot. Motion control shoes are generally cut along a pretty straight line that creates a wider base for flat feet. Unfortunately, motion control shoes are usually heavier than neutral or support shoes simply because of the extra support features that are built-in.

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