I work at a speciality running store, which frequently uses the terms, “neutral, stability, and motion control”. To the seasoned runner, these terms may be familiar to you, however to someone who’s new to the sport, it may seem like foreign language. I almost always get asked what at least one of these terms mean each shift, so I figured now’s the time to explain.
These are the shoes that provide the least support. That may sound bad, but it actually isn’t, (depending on what kind of foot you have). Neutral runners are runners that have very little or no arch weakness, which I’ll explain how to detect later. I should also point out that the amount of support a shoe has and the amount of cushioning it provides are two different things and are commonly confused. The cushioning a shoe provides is literally exactly what it sounds like. Shoes with tons of cushioning can have very little support, (case in point).
We also recommend neutral shoes for people who wear orthotics/insoles. The reasoning behind this is that since the orthotics/insoles correct whatever issues your feet may have, it’s kind of redundant to get a shoe with extra support.
Some other shoes that are neutral are cross trainers, racing spikes, and minimalist shoes.
From my experience of working at Running Room, I find that most runners fall into this category. Being a stability runner means that you have moderate arch weakness, which needs to be corrected in order to have a pain-free run. I find that stability and motion control shoes tend to be a little heavier than neutral shoes, however that’s purely my observation.
An example of a stability shoe is this:
This is shoe that provides THE MOST support. A shoe that falls under this category would be ideal for someone with a completely collapsed arch. I find that this category encompasses the least amount of runners. Although a decent amount of runners have some degree of collapsed arches, few have completely collapsed arches. An example of a motion control shoe is this:
So to recap, neutral shoes have the least support, stability has a moderate level of support, and motion control has the most amount of support.
Finding out how much support you may need isn’t hard to do. If you head to your local specialty running store they can do an analysis for you. Alternatively, get someone to stand six or seven feet away from you. On one leg and not holding onto anything, bend all the way down, (slowly), and come back up. Repeat, but on the other leg. No shaking in the arch or very little shaking means a neutral shoe, a decent level of shaking means a stability shoe, and a lot of shaking means a motion control shoe.
All this aside, you may try on shoes and they may feel good on you feet or they may feel bad. It really depends on you and what feels right; there’s not sense in running in something that you find uncomfortable.
-Running Fast, Lifting Heavy