Running Shoes by Level of Stability
Below we have listed running shoes under three main categories; maximum stability, stability, and neutral . A subset of the stability and cushioned categories is the lightweight running shoe. Maximum stability shoes are designed to provide significant support for flat-footed or severe overpronators and bigger runners while neutral shoes are designed for lighter more efficient or underpronating runners. Moderate and mild stability offers some features for the majority of runners who fall somewhere in the middle of the pronation and size spectrum. Lightweight running shoes may be found within the stability and cushioned categories and will be denoted with (*).
Footwear manufacturers have significantly increased the number of lightweight and less structured running shoes and decreased the number of maximum stability shoes. The lightweight category has grown significantly in the last year primarily driven by the minimalist movement. Lightweight shoes may incorporate stability features such as medial posts or shanks but tend to be less durable than conventional running shoes.
Manufacturers do not use uniform language when describing their footwear and some models may fall in between categories. The distinctions between categories are not always easily discerned but we have made every effort to place all shoes into the appropriate category.
Until recently, most manufacturers classified running shoes according to three main categories; Motion Control, Stability and Cushioned or Neutral. Now manufacturers are using their own terms such as “structured cushioning” or “guidance”. The major manufacturers use two to four categories to classify their shoes. The AAPSM has chosen to use three categories; Maximum Stability, Stability, and Neutral.
Generally, best suited for severe overpronators and/or moderately overpronating runners who weight more than 180 lbs. The vast majority of runners do not require this level of control but for those who do the structural features provide maximum protection and durability.
Recommended Shoes: Maximum Stability
The majority of the best selling running shoes are found in the stability category. The structural features can minimize overpronation yet still provide levels of flexibility and cushioning not found in maximum stability shoes. The level of stability features can vary significantly within this category.
Recommended Shoes: Stability
* Denotes Lightweight shoe
Neutral shoes may have little to no stabilizing structural features. Efficient runner s who are not prone to injury often do well in neutral running shoes.
Recommended Shoes: Neutral
* Denotes Lightweight shoe
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W = Multiple widths
M = One width
C = Curved
SC = Semicurved
S = Straight
Torsional and Flexion Stability are desirable features to assist in protection from the adverse impact of excessive pronation and to help those individuals with plantar fasciitis. Lateral stability is also desired to lessen the possibility of ankle sprains.
The current commonly used terms of stability and motion control are poorly chosen and inappropriately used. The way these terms are used in shoe descriptions does not reflect biomechanical function and are confusing and potentially misleading. We choose to define shoes function in degrees of protection from over pronation (which is a form of stability and motion limitation) using the term "pronation control". This method is used rather than creating confusion by the use of two similar terms taken to mean something different than they should. Many of the shoes we rate as offering mild pronation control are often categorized as "neutral" shoes.
Cross Training Shoes
Fitness footwear has evolved. No longer called “cross trainers” or “aerobics shoes,” training shoes are a category of footwear designed to provide protection for a variety of fitness activities. This class of footwear is suitable for weightlifting, a variety fitness classes, some racquet sports and overall use at the health club. Training shoes provide cushioning as well as varying levels of stability devices to protect the feet and ankles. Training shoes are the jack-of-all-trades so they work well in a variety of activities but if you participate in one particular sport such as running or basketball, more than 2 times per week then you should have a sport-specific shoe for that as well.
As with any shoe, a comfortable fit is the first priority when selecting a shoe. Other considerations include: