Difference Between Stability and Motion Control Running Shoes Explained

Finding the right pair can be challenging for those who want to add running shoes to their collection. This is not limited just to the size and fit, but the type of running shoe that is best suited for your needs.

Two of the most common types of running shoes are stability and motion control. While they may sound similar, there are differences between them that you will need to know.

What’s the Difference Between Stability and Motion Control Running Shoes?

Stability running shoes offer some control but have better cushioning and other support, while motion control running shoes have stiff heels and a straight shape and are made to help your foot to firmly be in place. This makes stability running shoes more flexible than motion control running shoes.

While you may think that a running shoe is just a running shoe, some variations make for important considerations. From the types of surfaces that you will be running across to the nature of your feet, finding the right type of running shoe may not only improve your performance but also prevent certain types of injuries from occurring.

Who is Stability Running Shoes for?

Stability running shoes are ideal for overpronators. These shoes provide greater support and arch support through the midsole. They can be slightly stiffer and are usually heavier than neutral shoes.

Who is Stability Running Shoes for?

Motion control shoes are designed to support and stabilize the foot while allowing it to roll while walking. They can also help prevent heel and arch fractures.

Who is Neutral Running Shoes for?

If you are a regular runner and have normal pronation, then you can wear neutral shoes. These shoes are lightweight and flexible and have no specific features to address your overpronation.

Related: 10 Types of Running Shoes (Which One Do You Have?)

What are Stability Running Shoes?

At first glance, you might be hard pressed to tell the difference between stability and motion control shoes. Take comfort in that you are not alone, especially those who have little experience with running shoes. But a stability shoe does offer some considerable benefits that those who are just starting out will notice.

As the name implies, the stability types of running shoes offer considerable support thanks to the balance, cushioning, and overall design. You’ll notice this starting at the top of the shoe, known as the upper side. 

The nature of stability shoes, especially when compared to motion control shoes, is arguably most noticeable in terms of its rigidity. Although stability shoes are not loose or highly flexible, they do not have the rigid nature of motion control shoes, especially on the upper side.

The outer sole limit flexion of the feet from the mid to the rear point of the shoe. You may notice that the soles are wider, which implies greater stability, but that is not always the case. However, all stability shoes have rigid soles, so that you cannot squeeze them from either side. The midsole area will also provide support and adequate cushioning for the feet. They are made from durable materials that are designed to last.

The heel to toe drop, which refers to the natural drop of the feet is roughly 4mm to 10mm for stability shoes. Plus, the lasting of the shoes are straight, which provides solid support for the arches. These are the basic characteristics of stability shoes.

If you have normal or low arches, then stability shoes should be fine for your needs. 

Related: Top 10 Best Running Shoes for High Arches

What Are Motion Control Running Shoes?

The characteristics of shoes designed for motion control are implied in the name. The motion of the feet when engaging in walking, jogging, or running are kept in proper alignment with this type of shoe. Such shoes tend to be made from heavier, more durable materials compared to shoes designed for stability. And they also tend to last longer as a result.

Most motion control shoes are made from a heavier synthetic material or natural leather. It’s also common to see such shoes with a breathable mesh on the top. The cuff or heel collar is also quite rigid to maintain proper motion control.

The heel to toe drop of motion control shoes tend to be higher as this helps to cushion the feet when they strike the ground. You can choose to lower the drop depending on the type or brand of motion control shoes that you are selecting. In addition, the actual shape of the shoe, which is known as The Last tends to be straight, which is quite symmetrical and allows for the feet to hit rather flat on the surface.

The sole of the shoes are most often crafted from rubber, a carbon rubber that is stiff and durable. This means that it will only give a little when flexing the outer sole from the midpoint of the shoe. The midsole is also quite rigid in nature. This is because it uses tough materials such as dual-density ethyl-vinyl-acetate or EVA.

Now that you know the basics of stability and motion control shoes, you will need to learn about the importance of why both types of shoes exist. One of the most prominent reasons is that of pronation, which alters how your foot strikes the ground when walking, jogging, or running.

Stability vs Motion Control Running Shoes: Pros & Cons

Both types of shoes offer benefits to those who walk, jog, or run. But each type has its unique characteristics. Understanding the benefits will help you select the right type of running shoes for your needs.

Stability Running Shoes Pros: In addition to providing some support for those who suffer from overpronation, there are considerable benefits from choosing stability shoes.

  • Excellent cushioning
  • Helps avoid injuries to the feet, particularly those caused by lack of cushioning
  • Lightweight yet durable.

Stability Running Shoes Cons: For the most part, stability shoes work well for most people. However, they also have a couple of issues that you need to be aware of.

  • Not as good for overpronation compared to motion control shoes
  • Provides less support for those with high arches

While both types of shoes have their benefits, they also have some issues as well. What follows are the most common disadvantages that each shoe offers.

Motion Control Pros: The advantages of motion control shoes are considerable, especially if you suffer from overpronation. Other benefits include the following.

  • Reduced chance of injuries due to ankle rolling
  • Reduces Patellofemoral pain
  • Lower muscle fatigue
  • Greater balance when running
  • Comfortable

Motion Control Cons: The disadvantages of this type of shoe are few, but they are noticeable, especially if your feet do not need support for overpronation.

  • Heavier than stability shoes
  • Rigid material might make them less comfortable
  • Potential to disrupt natural movement which may cause more injuries

The final disadvantage has no studies to back up this claim. This is more anecdotal evidence that may or may not be true.

Stability Shoes vs Motion Control Shoes on Overpronation

Pronation refers to the degree to which your foot will roll inwardly when walking, running, or standing. This is in reference to the joint located below the ankle, which dictates the position of your foot when it lands on the ground. The three types of pronation are as follows.

  • Overpronation
  • Neutral
  • Supination

For those who have overpronation, the joint will bend your foot inwardly to a greater degree. Supination means the opposite that your foot will bend outwardly. Neutral as implied means that foot lands fairly flat or straight on the ground with little to no pronation or supination.

If you have overpronation or supination, then the type of running shoes you need will have to be tailored for that condition. Otherwise, you may suffer from uncomfortable injuries that involve your feet rolling inward or outward when it lands on the ground. Even if you do not suffer from an injury, the biomechanics of how you walk, jog, or run will be adversely affected without the proper support from your shoes.

Stability: These types of shoes are also well suited for those who suffer from overpronation, although not nearly to the degree of motion control shoes. For those who suffer from a slight overpronation, stability shoes might be better suited for your needs.

Motion Control: This type of shoe is best suited for those who suffer from overpronation, the tendency for the feet to fall inward as the foot strikes the ground. This is because the heavier material combined with cushioning tends to keep the feet aligned more properly.

The added material and cushioning also help those who have flat feet. This puts less pressure on the fallen arches and allows you to run more comfortably.

Stability Shoes vs Motion Control Shoes Which One is Better for Me?

If you are shopping for running shoes and cannot decide between stability or motion control, then you should consider the following:

Overpronation: If you suffer from this condition, then motion control shoes offer the best support. Stability shoes are best suited for those who do not have pronounced overpronation.

Weight: Stability shoes provide greater cushioning and are lighter, which makes them better suited for those who walk, jog, or run considerable distances. This means less wear on the muscles which propel the feet.

Injury Prone: Motion control tends to work better if you are more injury prone when walking, jogging, or running.

In the end, choosing the right type of shoe will mean getting more out of your jogging efforts. Plus, your feet will remain more comfortable while suffering from fewer injuries and muscle strains as a result. You may want to check with your doctor or podiatrist if you have certain issues with your feet before choosing between stability and motion control shoes.

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