When you see running shoes offered as neutral, stability or motion control, you may have a hard time figuring out which type you need. How can you tell? The bottom line is that each of these types of shoes is designed to accommodate a specific level of pronation or supination (inward or outward rolling) of the foot during running. In this article, we describe these three types of shoes and provide sound advice to help you select the right type of shoes to suit your needs. Read on to learn more.
How Do Pronation And Supination Affect Running?
As you run, your feet may roll inward or outward. Some rolling is normal for everyone, but if the amount of rolling is excessive, it is called overpronation or oversupination. If it is not corrected, this movement can affect your running gait and cause pain in a number of ways. Excessive pronation or supination can contribute to the development of blisters, calluses and corns on the feet. It can lead to painful tendons, ligaments and joints.
What Can You Do About Pronation and Supination Problems?
If you are flat footed and your foot rolls inward (overpronation) outward (supination or under-pronation) when you are walking barefoot, it will continue to do so in shoes that do not provide correction and support. For this reason, excessive pronation or supination must be dealt with using stability or motion control shoes which prevent the foot from rolling.
Stability shoes are appropriate for mild overpronation. Motion control shoes are appropriate for severe overpronation. If neutral shoes are worn in this instance, they will soon become bent out of shape and deformed by the constant pressure of the overpronating feet. The end result of this will be even more excessive pronation.
If you are overweight and have mild pronation, stability or motion control shoes may also be appropriate for you as a way of preventing damage to your feet.
If your feet do not tend to roll excessively either way, stability or motion control running shoes may not be necessary for you. In this case, you may want to seek out a neutral shoe or one that has minimal stability features.
How is Support Added to Stability & Motion Control Shoes?
Shoe designers aim to counteract the effects of excessive pronation by adding more density in the shoes’ midsoles. This is typically done using a very firm material to provide arch support to prevent overpronation or by building up the sole of the shoe on the outer edge to prevent supination or under-pronation.
By contrast, a neutral shoe will have minimal or no support structure, simply allowing the foot to move and flex freely. If you have strong, healthy feet that neither over nor under pronate, this can be fine. If your feet do roll inward or outward to excess, this sort of shoe can be extremely painful and damaging.
How Do You Know the Shoes You’ve Chosen are Right For You?
Comfort is key to choosing the right shoes for any purpose. Ideally, when you put on a pair of shoes, your feet should feel comfortable and well supported. You should never have to “break in” your running shoes. Although they may feel new and unfamiliar at first, they should never feel uncomfortable.
Your running shoes should give your feet the proper level of stability whether you overpronate, underpronate or have no significant pronation problems. One way to judge this is to have someone watch you from behind as you walk in your new shoes. If you have the correct level of support and correction, you should be walking straight with no tilt at the ankles.
If you purchase your running shoes at a reputable store, the clerks should be knowledgeable enough to help you with this. In some running supply stores, you can have video taken from behind so that you can see your gait for yourself. Of course, in any store, you could get the clerk, a friend or passerby to use your phone to take a video of yourself.
How Do You Know a Running Shoe Store is Reputable?
Word of mouth and online reviews will help you find the best running shoe stores in your area. You may also wish to ask your doctor, podiatrist and/or physical therapist for recommendations.
A good running shoe sales person should offer you several different options in shoes. He or she should know how to advise you in terms of shoe inserts and support that will accommodate and support your feet. He or she will consider your budget and refrain from attempting to pressure you to spend more than you had in mind.
The best quality running shoe stores also provide easy returns. Be sure the store you choose has a flexible return policy before you make what may be a fairly significant investment in a pair of neutral, stability or motion control running shoes.