Difference between Stability and Motion Control Running Shoes

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.

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.

That’s why learning the differences between stability and motion control shoes are so important. What follows are the basic characteristics and differences between each type of running shoe.

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.

Support: 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. 

361 Nemesis Stability Running Shoes Photo @sprintcommercedistribution

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.

Characteristics: You’ll notice with motion control shoes that have a rigid upper structure that is designed for maximum support. This is arguably the most noticeable difference between motion control and stability shoes as you will have difficulty twisting a motion control shoe when it is in your hands. 

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.

Brooks Running Shoes photo @flyingfeetsportshoes

What is Pronation?

Pronation refers to the degree in 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.

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: 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.

Advantages of Stability & Motion Control Shoes

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: 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.

Motion Control: 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

Disadvantages of Stability & Motion Control Shoes

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.

Stability: 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

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

Motion Control: 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.

A Word From Love At First Fit

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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