In last week’s post, I broke down the “anatomy” of a running sneaker. Today I want to talk about the different types of running shoes that are seen on the market to help give you a better idea of what you’re buying.
With that being said, a pretty good recommendation for buying a shoe is buying what you feel is most comfortable for your foot (and not what all your friends say). That is not to say that if there are structural changes to your anatomy, you ignore what is recommended but your physicians and doctors but often times consumers will go into the store saying “I have to buy this one because of this, this and this instead of trying on a shoe that actually is comfortable on their feet.
I wear multiple types of shoes. I wear minimalist shoes, shoes that have a bit of support, shoes that are highly cushioned, and even the clunkiest of shoes. I wear what is comfortable. I think being able to rotate through different running sneakers is healthy and good for your feet.
Generally speaking the first thing you do is figure out what your wear pattern is. Individuals will fall into one of three categories: Pronation, Neutral, Supination. Having one of these three wear pattern types does not preclude you from wearing a shoe designed for a different type of wear pattern but it does help to guide you into shoes you may find MOST comfortable.
Supination – also known as a “high arch.” This wear pattern type is often described as an outward rolling of the ankle or if you run the the “outside” portion of your foot. The foot and ankle complex naturally supinate with every step to take, it allows you push off the ground to go forward or backward.
- To get a little nerdy: Supination occurs at the subtalar (talus and calcaneus bones) joint.
- To get even more nerdy: The subtalar joint can move in three different planes, what that means is that supination is actually a combination of three movements: calcaneus inversion, calcaneus adduction, and calcaneus plantar flexion OR calcaneus inversion, talus abduction, and talus dorsiflexion.
Neutral – also known as “normal.” This wear pattern type is often described as equal wear pattern between the forefoot and rear foot and not having a preference to the inside or outside portions of your foot. Your foot doesn’t have “excessive” motion on direction or the other and you have the shoe that is right for you.
Pronation – also known as “flat foot.” This wear pattern type is often described as not having an arch and described to people as an inward rolling of the ankle and you tend to run with increased pressure on the “inside” portion of your foot. The foot and ankle complex naturally pronates with every step to take, as a way to absorb energy with each foot contact.
- To get a little nerdy: Pronation occurs at the subtalar (talus and calcaneus bones) joint.
- To get even more nerdy: The subtalar joint can move in three different planes, what that means is that pronation is actually a combination of three movements: calcaneus eversion, calcaneus abduction, and calcaneus dorsiflexion OR calcaneus eversion, talus adduction, and talus plantar flexion.
The Big Three Categories: In the running realm there are primarily three different types of shoes you’ll have the option to choose from based off of your foot and ankle and the presentation.
A “Neutral” Shoe: A shoe designed for normal wear pattern runners or supinated wear pattern runners. They generally offer enough support of the arch for these type of runners and allow for the natural motion of the ankle and foot to occur with each foot strike and push off. Supinated and “normal” arch individuals generally benefit from this type of shoe because it allows for the wear pattern of the shoe to remain center throughout the entire motion of the foot.
- Nike Pegasus and Nike Vomero
- Brooks Ghost and Brooks Glycerin
- Asics Nimbus and Asics Cumulus
- Saucony Triumph
- Hoka Clifton and Hoka Bondi
- Adidas Ultraboost
A “Stability” Shoe: A shoe designed for normal wear pattern runners or someone with mild pronation (slight collapse of the arch) runners. Generally speaking, runners that use a stability shoe, still has a slight arch. A stability shoe generally has technology in the insole that helps “prevent” or stabilize the arch when each foot strike occurs.
- Brooks uses Guide Rails in their shoes to help those with overpronation.
- Brooks Adrenaline GTS
- Nike uses Dynamic Support in their shoes to help those with overpronation.
- Nike Structure
- ASICS uses Duomax, a more dense foam, in their shoes to help with overpronation.
- Asics Kayano and GT 2000
- HOKA and On also use a more dense foam in their shoes to help with overpronation.
- Hoka Arahi
- Saucony uses a TPU Guidance frame, dense foam, and what felt like a piece of plastic to help with overpronation.
- Saucony Guide
A quick disclaimer, there are some shoes that do not work well for those with a high arch. Sometimes if you already present with a high arch and you put yourself into a stability shoe, it may force you to run even more on the outside of your foot. So make sure you have someone check to make sure that is not happening to you!
A “Motion Control” Shoe: A shoe designed for individuals when standing upright do not present with any sort of arch. These individuals are generally considered to have “flat feet” and at no point have a noticeable arch. A motion control shoe is going to be pretty stiff and will not allow for much bending or twisting, which makes sense. You want something that is significantly stable that will help support the foot. I personally do not own any motion control shoes but I have pulled some from running companies so you can see.
- Brooks Beast
- Hoka Gaviota
- Saucony OMNI
Hope you enjoyed this little tidbit about the three types of running shoes you are likely to encounter at any local running store you shop at. Next week, there’s a different way to categorize running shoes and we will discuss it here. See you guys next week.