Neutral vs Stability Running Shoes, Differences Between Both

Are you planning to engage in a running expedition? There are many factors that you should put into consideration. First and foremost, your footwear matters a lot. This specifically refers to the shoes that you choose to wear during your expedition. If you wear the right running shoes, you can be sure that it will provide the much-needed proper foundation for your entire body. Besides this, the shoe will prevent you from getting injuries along the way and also make the entire exercise more enjoyable. With countless brands and thousands of running shoe styles, you might get overwhelmed whenever you are choosing the right shoes to wear for your running expedition. Two of the common types of shoes that you will find out there are neutral and stability running shoes.

Neutral running shoes are ideal for those runners who put excessive tension on the forefoot and rearfoot. Stability running shoes on the other hand usually help bring the foot to its original alignment. This article will outline the major differences between these two so that you can understand which shoe is better for you.

How Do Neutral Running Shoes Function?

To start with, neutral running shoes are designed for those runners who have a neutral ‘correct running pattern’. To understand this better it is important that you understand terms such as pronation. Pronation is a term that refers to how our feet roll inwards as we jog or walk. Ideally, whenever a person jogs or walks, the outside heel of the foot normally makes the first contact with the ground.

Thereafter the heel smoothly rolls in by about 15° and the rest of the foot comes into contact with the ground where it assumes a flat position. Then, the foot pushes off from the ground with the toes at the same time. Generally, this is commonly referred to as neutral walking or running movement.

Our feet usually pronate in order to help with shock absorption and it is a natural movement. Different runners normally pronate by a different amount and therefore running shoes are usually designed to cater for varying degrees of pronation. Neutral shoes help guide your feet and legs through the above-mentioned mechanism.

If your feet do not pronate excessively, the above-mentioned shoes will offer the much-needed level of support as they will reduce the speed of rotation.

Neutral shoes normally provide cushion in the heel since the whole foot comes into contact with the ground and thereby helps distribute the weight evenly. Also, these shoes are generally lighter compared to their peers as they do not add so much support compared to stability shoes. Finally, neutral shoes are usually curved or semi-curved.

With this feature, it means that the sole of the shoe will not touch the ground all at once. Also, they are designed this way as they do not require offering addition support in the front half of the sole. As a result, they are designed for faster running. If you normally out a lot of tension on the forefoot and rear foot, these shoes are the best choice for you. They will help you absorb shock and enable you run more efficiently and comfortably.

How Do Stability Running Shoes Function?

Stability running shoes are basically built around supportive features in the midsole area, and more specifically under the arch of the shoe. These shoes are normally designed for people who tend to slightly or moderately over-pronate. You will note that there is an additional cushioning in the midsole are that helps offset the inward tilt.

By doing this, these shoes are able to bring your feet to a neutral alignment. This support is commonly known as medial post. Compared to a neutral shoe, stability shoes will align your legs in a better way. Since these shoes have a more arch support, they are ideal for those with a flat arch and over-pronate. If you love the feeling of support, these shoes are the best option for you. By wearing these shoes, you will enjoy a good balance of motion and cushioning.

Choosing The Right Shoes For Running

It is no secret that looking for a running shoe can be a daunting task. Since there are different types of running shoes out there, chances of getting  wrong or spoilt for choice are very high. Remember that each of these shoes is specifically built for a particular type of foot. Ideally, the best running shoe is the one that feels more comfortable on your foot and fits you well. The following are some key features that you should be keen to look at when selecting running shoes out there:

1. Determine the nature of the surface you are running on?

Different people normally run on different surfaces. For instance, you might be running on pavements or on a soft muddy trail. If you are running on a pavement, you can consider getting road shoes. These shoes offer more cushion to your feet since you are running on a hard surface. Besides that, these shoes can readily handle the daily wear and tear of a hard surface.

On the other hand, if you are running through a soft muddy trail, a pair of trail shoes is the best option for you. You should ensure that these shoes have deep tread so that you can enjoy the much-needed grip and ankle support. In fact, such shoes are ideal for running on an uneven terrain. If you are engaging on these two surfaces from time to time, a hybrid running shoe is the best option for you. Such shoes are known to offer a mix of cushioning and grip to the user.

2. Determine your foot type

Besides knowing the surface on which you will be running on, it is imperative that you determine your foot type as well. For you to do this, you should check your arch height first. A wet test will help you achieve this objective.

In this case, you should wet both feet and then stand on a paper bag for about 10 seconds. Thereafter, you should step off the bag and then check the imprint made by your foot on the bag.

If you notice that there is a distinct curve alongside your foot with a band that is less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and the toe, you have a normal arch. However, if you notice that the imprint shows most of your foot and there is no significant curve along the inside of your foot, you have a low arch.

Finally, if you notice that there is a curve along with the insider of your foot and a thin band that connects your heel and toe, it shows that you have a high arch. In fact, if you have a high arch you might not even see anything connecting the heel and toe. Generally, the height of your arch will inform the type of running shoe that you will choose.

3. Determine your gait

This is the other component that that you should check whenever you are looking for running shoes out there in the market. Since you have already determined your arch height, you can now use this information to determine your gait. Gait generally refers to the way your feet behave when you run. As we speak, there are 4 types of gait types which include:

  • Severe overpronation-When your heel strikes the ground first, it rolls inwards excessively. Here, your ankle does not have the ability to stabilize the body properly. If you have a flat foot or an extremely low arch, chances are that you belong to this category. In this case, you should consider investing in a motion control shoe
  • Mild overpronation-Here, the outside of the heel strikes first and then the foot rolls inwards slightly in order to absorb the shock. Such is very common if you normally have a low to medium arch. When looking for a running shoe, the stability shoe is the best choice for you.
  • Neutral-If this gait, the middle or slightly outward part of the heel is the one that strikes first and then the foot rolls inwards slightly so as to absorb the shock. An individual with this kind of gait usually has a medium arched foot and the best shoe to choose is the neutral cushioning shoe.
  • Underpronation. Also, known as supination, if someone supinates, he or she normally strikes the ground with the outside of the heel first and then stays on the outside of their foot through the entire foot strike. This actually inhibits your foot from absorbing the impact of the foot strike. Such is always the case when you have a higher arched foot and it is advisable that you choose a neutral cushioning shoe.

4. How much cushion do you want to feel?

Cushioning is very important if you are underpronate. Simply put, cushioning is important of your feet do not roll inwards enough or roll outward by a large margin. You will note that the rolling motion normally helps your feet to absorb the shock of every step you make. By choosing highly cushioned shoes, you can be sure that they will help reduce the shock as they will help imitate the natural process.

5. Check the shoe length

If your running shoe of choice has enough toe room, you can be sure that you will enjoy more comfort when wearing it. Since these shoes come in different lengths, you should choose a slightly longer one so that you can have enough space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe. If you choose running shoes that are too tight, chances are that you get blisters and black toenails in the long run.

6. Check the width of the shoe

Besides the shoe’s length, you should be keen to check the width the running shoe before buying it. Ideally, you should ensure that your foot is not pushing too much on the sides. The fit should be secure and not snug. You will note that the standard width for a running shoe for men is D while that for women is B. In case your feet need more space, there are other widths available such as 2E and 4E for men and D for women.

7. Heel fit

When describing how secure the running shoe fits around your heel and ankle, the heel counter is commonly used. If you have too much space or slippage in the heel, you might get some blisters. Even if you wear good moisture-wicking socks, you will still not be safe from the excess chaffing of a poorly fitting heel. Ideally, your running shoe of choice should feel secure in the heel and should not move or run whenever you are running or walking.

8. Is the shoe lightweight?

If you are able to get a lightweight shoe, you will be able to run far distances. Therefore, you should be keen not to choose a bulky shoe as you might get fatigued faster and sooner before reaching your destination of choice.

9. Price

Finally, the features that come with a particular running shoe will determine its costs. Some shoes will cost more than others. Depending on your budget, you should choose the one that will not strain your budget. However, you should be keen and check all the features you want in that shoe. This way, you will be able to get value for your hard-earned money.

Do You Need a Neutral or Stability Running Shoe?

If you have to choose between the neutral running shoes and stability running shoes, two critical factors come into play. These are your arch type and flexibility. You will note that the amount of support that your foot needs also depends on shoes’ flexibility and height. Therefore, the higher the arch, the more support you need. In this case, you should consider neutral sunning shoes. However, if you have a low-arched foot, you should consider investing in stability running shoes.

Final Thoughts

Although running seems like a straightforward undertaking that can help you lose weight and remain in shape, it is imperative that you choose the right running shoe. Pronation or the natural movement of the foot as it lands on the ground when running or walking will influence the kind of shoe that you choose. If you are fond of putting excessive tension of the forefoot and rear foot, you should consider getting neutral running shoes. On the other hand, stability running shoes are ideal for overpronation and therefore are ideal for brining foot to its natural alignment. Consider this guide today and you will have a wonderful running or walking expedition.

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