Why Should You Choose Motion Control Running Shoes?
These days there are all sorts of specialty running, walking and exercise shoes. Each claims to be more specialized and more perfect than the last. How can you know exactly what sort of shoe is right for you? In this article, we will describe several different types of running shoes and discuss the criteria for making your choice. We will focus on motion control running shoes designed especially for runners with low or no arch, and we will make specific recommendations in brands and styles to suit the needs of these runners. Read on to learn more.
Are You Flat-Footed?
Do you have little or no arch to your foot? If this is the case, what does this mean and what should you do? When you are flat-footed, you may have a tendency to overpronate. This means that as you walk or run, your foot will roll inward. This can cause stress on your feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
If this state of affairs goes uncorrected over a long period of time, it can lead to the painful condition known as plantar fasciitis, in which the long ligament that runs from the heel of your foot to the base of your toes becomes damaged. It may even become detached from its attachment point at the heel.
Luckily, these problems and complications can be avoided through the use of proper footwear that provides good support, stability and motion control. Your best choices in footwear if you have a low or non-existent arch are stability shoes or motion control shoes.
It is important to understand that these types of shoes are distinctly different from one another, so you will need to choose carefully to get just the right support, stability, control and cushioning to suit your needs.
What’s The Difference Between Cushioning Shoes, Stability Shoes & Motion Control Shoes?
Cushioning shoes are intended for people who have an average or high arch. They are useful for people who have a neutral gait when walking or running and for those whose feet tend to roll outward (supinate). They do not provide enough support, stability and motion control for people with low or no arch whose feet tend to roll inward (pronate).
If you have normal arch, you may still have a bit of a problem with pronation. Stability shoes are designed to help prevent and correct this tendency. If you are flat-footed and/or your weigh more than 180 pounds, you will have more of a tendency to overpronate. In this case, a motion control shoe is highly recommended. These shoes provide even more stability and can help prevent damage and injury to your feet, legs and lower back.
Most running shoes are stability shoes and provide some pronation control. They are equipped with firm medial and/or lateral posts, which provide extra support at mid-foot and in the heel. They are usually fairly flexible and cushiony.
Motion control (aka: high-stability shoes) typically have a very firm midsole, and they provide very strong support to help prevent overpronation. This type of shoe always has a very firm medial post and a very firm lateral post to keep the foot securely in place from the heel to the toe of the shoe.
This extra support and structure does make the shoe a bit heavier and somewhat inflexible; however, the end result is that your foot will not slide about inside your shoe. The added support and structure keep your feet securely aligned to prevent an asymmetrical gait, which can lead to torque in the ankles, knees and hips, resulting in injury.
Our Top Picks
When seeking running shoes, you will probably find a vast assortment of stability shoes, which offer a combination of cushioning and support. If you are truly flat-footed and have a real problem with overpronation, these are unlikely to give you enough control and support. Here are our top picks in effective motion control running shoes:
ASICS Gel Fortify
Hoka One One Gaviota
ASICS Gel Foundation 12
New Balance 857v2
Saucony Redeemer ISO
New Balance 1340
Brooks Addiction 12
Brooks Beast 16
New Balance 1540V2
Saucony Omni 16
Are Motion Control Running Shoes Backed By Science?
There have been a number of studies regarding the efficacy of motion control shoes, but the results are somewhat sketchy for a number of reasons. For one thing, the studies were often funded by makers of motion control shoes. Furthermore, very often the studies where informal and not truly scientific, so they were plagued with problems such as inconsistent methodology and participants dropping out before results could be tallied. Nonetheless, the findings are of some interest; although, they should be taken with a grain of salt.
Some studies have found that people who wear shoes that are specifically designed for their foot type experience no fewer running injuries than those who do not. Other studies have found that flat-footed people who wear motion control running shoes experience greater foot comfort and less pain in the quadriceps.
In 2010 one study reported that women who switched from their accustomed running shoes to shoes that were specifically designed for their foot type experienced pain when running. This may, or may not be significant as any switch in equipment can cause some initial pain. Additionally, if the participants in this study were not experiencing any problems with their accustomed shoes, there was no reason to switch.
One of the very best and most conclusive studies comes from the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers conducted a large scale study for the purpose of investigating whether or not motion control shoes actually help reduce injuries in runners who tend to overpronate.
The study included over 300 participants with varying degrees of arch structure. In the final analysis, researchers found that motion control shoes do, indeed, reduce risk of injury significantly for this flat-footed runners. The researchers caution that use of motion control shoes by runners with neutral or high arches is not beneficial and may actually be damaging.
It should also be noted that podiatrists and running specialists caution against total reliance on footwear to avoid injuries. Remember that form and fitness also play a very big role in avoiding injury. Podiatrist, Nicholas A Campitelli points out that knowing how to run correctly is at least as important as wearing the right footwear.
Pros and Cons of Motion Control Running Shoes:
These shoes are specially designed with a straight last (sole) to minimize pronation and provide you with maximum support and control. They are typically made of very dense and supportive materials to prevent collapse of your heels. The outer soles are normally made of rugged carbon rubber for maximum durability. This combination of sturdy materials and strong support structure adds up to greater stability and support when your foot hits the ground.
The positives of this design include:
- Improved control and support
- More durability
- Less pronation
- More support
- More control
All of these qualities are especially valuable for runners with flat feet. They are also beneficial for larger bodied runners who may put excessive stress on the plantar fascia. Overpronation can also lead to injuries and problems such as:
- Achilles tendonitis
- Runner’s knee
- Muscle pain
The one downside of this type of design is lack of cushioning. This could prove problematic for long runs. This problem might be addressed by switching out to a fresh pair of running shoes of slightly different construction at rest stops. Wearing substantial socks can also be helpful.
How Does Motion Control Help Prevent Or Soothe Plantar Fasciitis?
This type of shoe holds your foot firmly in place. This helps prevent over-stretching of the plantar fascia. When this ligament is held secure, it is less likely tear. Without proper arch control, your arches (even flat arches) are very stressed and may collapse as you run. Shoes that hold and support your foot firmly can prevent this from happening.
Motion control shoes stop your heel from sliding about in your shoe. They have a deep heel cup that holds your heel firmly in place and prevents it sliding up and down or side-to-side. Excessive motion in the heel can cause the plantar fascia to become detached from its connecting point in the heel. This is an extremely painful event that may require surgery to correct.
Qualities To Seek In Running Shoes For Motion Control
Medial support is the most important quality in motion control shoes. This is the aspect of the sole that stops your foot from rolling in as you ambulate forward.
A firm, heel with a deep heel cup is also very important. Look for shoes that hold your heel in place firmly. The back of the shoe should have a padded collar that prevents your heel from slipping up and down as you flex your foot.
Avoid shoes with excessive cushioning as this creates potential for motion. When cushioning begins to break down, space is created inside the shoe.
It may feel strange at first to wear shoes with very little cushioning, but remember that firm support prevents injuries. Excessive cushioning can cause injuries. Seek a balance between comfort, support and control.
The Bottom Line
Every body is different. That is why there are so many different types of running shoes and so many different ideas about what is right for which type of foot, body and runner.
As a matter of fact, there may be no single type of perfect running shoe for you. In addition to considering your feet, your body type and your level of fitness, you must also consider use. You may need different shoes for running long distances, sprinting and running over different surfaces. The shoes you use for trail running may be very different from those you would wear when running a marathon over paved roads.
Here are a couple of guidelines to keep in mind when selecting your shoes:
- Pay close attention to fit. Your shoes should hold your foot securely and provide ample room for your toes.
- Be sure the shoes you choose have adequate shock absorbing features.
- Look for shoes that give you the right amount of grip and traction for the terrain you have in mind.
- Be sure the shoes you choose provide comfortable support for your foot type.
- Pay close attention to the way your foot moves inside the shoe. You should be able to flex your foot comfortably, but it should not slide or shift as you walk or run.
Before purchasing shoes online, it’s a good idea to go to a sporting goods store and try on a variety of running shoes to get a feel for the different brands and types. This will provide you with valuable information regarding fit, features and styles when making an online selection. ASICS stores provide especially comprehensive fitting services.
When trying on shoes, be sure to wear the socks you intend to wear for running. Go at the end of the day when your feet are expanded to their fullest size. This will ensure the best fit.
Follow recommendations and your instincts. Although you may be strongly guided toward motion control shoes for your flat feet, if you try a shoe on and it is just not at all comfortable, steer clear of it.
Break in new shoes gradually. Wear your new running shoes indoors for an hour or two at a time for the first week or so. This will help you get accustomed to them, and if you do find they are not quite right, you will be able to return them.
If you have trouble finding shoes that fit properly and feel right, consult with your podiatrist. He or she can provide sound advice on brands of shoes, inserts, training techniques and more.