In the market for a new pair of running sneakers? Don’t just go buy the flashiest pair you can find. For the best experience, you might need a little more support. Stability running shoes may be your best bet.
But first, understanding the use of stability running shoes requires a basic lesson on foot mechanics—and specifically the term pronation, i.e., “rolling in or inward tilting of the arch when the foot contacts the ground,” says Scott R. Lurie, DPM, founder of Park Avenue Podiatry Associates in New York City.
Why You Might Need Stability Running Shoes
As Lurie explains, while every foot pronates on contact with the ground and some pronation is normal, the bony structure of the particular foot will dictate the level to which the foot “rolls inward” or pronates. “In the worst case scenario, a ‘flat foot’ or pes plano valgus foot may be the end result of these pronatory forces requiring even greater stability and control,” he says, adding that shoe choices are critical for such a foot type, along with possible custom orthotic supports to be fabricated for additional control. As always, consult with a podiatrist to learn more about your specific running shoe needs and if you may benefit from orthotics.
In general, hyper-pronated feet require stability shoes, “which offer a number of components to control pronatory forces and absorb shock and impact,” according to Lurie. “These types of shoes often have wedging or what is referred to as posting in the sole of the shoe. This may take the form of various density materials placed in the sole of the shoe to control inward rolling of the arch and pitch of the heel. Additionally, variations in the length of the [back of the shoe or] counter along the inner or medial side of the heel may offer additional control.” Properly lacing your shoes can also aid in control of motion and offer much in the way of support, he adds.
What to Look for in Stability Running Shoes
Some key features to look for when buying stability running sneakers? “It is important that a stability shoe fits comfortably, is relatively appealing to the customer and is at a reasonable price point. Ensure that the stability shoes fit in appropriate width,” says foot and ankle surgeon/podiatrist Mark J. Mendeszoon, FACFAS, FACPM, a partner at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties Inc in Chardon, Ohio and the owner of Achilles Running Shop in Willoughby, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania. “Make sure that the midsole is not only firm to control pronation but also comfortable to walk in without causing pressure points, calluses or sores.
Lastly, says Mendeszoon, check that the back of the shoe (the counter) has ample room for your heel and that the Achilles notch is fitting comfortably along the Achilles tendon. “The counter is typically a bit firmer than the front of the shoe as it is designed to slow down the heel from going side to side which can reduce the amount of pronation for the foot,” he says.
How to Choose the Right Stability Running Shoe for You
Buying running shoes in-person is best. Always seek professional advice from experienced shoe fitters, as some shoes may be more comfortable and appropriate given varying foot structures and running styles, says Lurie.
When shopping online, check return policies to make sure you can exchange or return the sneakers if you have any issues. And caveat emptor: “do not buy the shoes based on one brand ,but try different brands and shoes change periodically,” says Mendeszoon. “If wearing insoles or orthotics make sure to remove shoe insoles so that the orthotics fit comfortably in the shoes.”
Our Picks for the Top Stability Running Shoes
Below, eight top-notch stability running shoes to consider if you’re on the hunt to power up your training sessions.
Asics long-running Kayano line provides plenty of support and cushion for all kinds of runners, and the brand says its a solid stability option. New to the 28 are two stability-forward features: gender-specific 3D-Space Construction units under the heel and forefoot to cut down weight and a Dynamic Duomax support system to reduce inward rolling during your stride.
The Cloudstratus from On is a runner’s dream. Excellent cushioning (the Helion foam is springy to feel like you’re walking on, well, you know) and a lightweight build, these sneakers provide excellent stability while you run. The ultra-cushioned soles are particularly great for soft landings and powerful take-offs. Choose from three colorways.
Mendeszoon appreciates that these sneakers provide “amazing support and a smooth, cushioned transitional ride.” They’re available in a slew of colors and medium and wide widths, and we especially like the GuideRails technology to stave off unnecessary excess movement while you run. The cloud-like DNA Loft cushioning is also extra appreciated on long runs.
Expect solid energy return thanks to Adidas’ Boost midsole, top-notch comfort, and a supportive knit upper to help you better your best on the track or pounding pavement through your ‘hood. Even better on the stability front, the Linear Energy Push (LEP) 2.0 system increases midsole stability for extra responsiveness and less flex in the forefoot. We also dig that this shoe’s upper is composed of a high-performance yarn made from at least 50 percent Parley Ocean Plastic, a type of upcycled plastic waste (the other 50 percent is recycled polyester).
Mendeszoon likes that these sneakers provide “tremendous comfort and protective support.” We dig that they spotlight an ultra-plush bed of PWRRUN+ cushioning for a springy feel. A top sole also gives you an extra layer of long-lasting comfort and the brand’s FORMFIT tech makes for superb molding to the shape of your feet.
If you’re looking for a durable running shoe that reduces the impact absorbed by your feet, fuels ‘em with energy and helps you launch forward, you can’t go wrong with this Under Armour model. The UA Clone technology wraps around your foot for a glove-like fit, which not only helps keep your feet centered while you run, but also maximizes the wonderfully responsive UA HOVR cushioning. Even better, the resultant better energy return also should translate to you logging faster miles whether casually training or on race day. For something at a lower price point, try Under Armour’s HOVR Guardian 3 ($72).
Choose from four colorways for this supportive sneaker that has standout specs ranging from a newly refined medial GuideRail that encourages natural foot placement when necessary and a molded heel cup to Altra Ego foam cushioning and a simplified lacing system. FootShape comfort rounds out the deal, making for a design that’s tailored to biological differences in men’s feet.
If you’re a casual runner looking for extra focus on comfort and foot health, KURU is a footwear brand well worth adding to your radar. We particularly like that this athletic sneaker features a design to ensure optimal pressure distribution from your heel to your forefoot, making it superb for long walks, too. So-called KURUSole technology also supports you while you run, flexing to cradle your heel in optimal comfort with every stride. KURU’s QUANTUM (great for those who need a wider toe box) and the FLUX (the most lightweight of this trio) have the same soles and are also both great running and walking options.
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