When looking for a new pair of running shoes, you’re sure to quickly learn that these types of shoes vary in type and function. One of these types is the neutral running shoe, specifically designed for people who have what is considered to be a “correct” or neutral running pattern. In contrast, support shoes are made for runners whose feet roll either too much or not enough to correct their form to the proper position.
Neutral running shoes are designed for runners with normal pronation. Normal pronation means your feet pronate normally while you run. For example, your feet do not roll inward (overpronate) or outward (supinate) during running. Neutral running shoes are the best footwear for your body to absorb shock that comes from the surface if you pronate normally.
If your feet either overpronate or supinate, there are other options for them such as stability running shoes and motion control running shoes. Wearing the right type of running footwear can benefit you to enjoy running with less chance for potential injury or discomfort.
Let’s take a look at the features and advantages of neutral running shoes, how they’re different, and compare it with the similar running shoe type Stability Running Shoes. It is also important to know your gait pattern, and you use stride analysis to calculate that result.
What makes running shoes different from other shoes?
As mentioned, the difference between neutral running shoes and other types of trainers is called pronation. Pronation refers to the way your feet roll when the outside of your heel comes into contact with the ground when you are lightly jogging or walking.
With a proper step, the heel will usually roll in smoothly by around 15 degrees, while the remainder of the foot ends up falling flat against the ground before pushing off again with the toes.
- The act of walking involves pronation, which determines whether or not supportive or neutral shoes are needed to correct a step
- 50 and 60 percent of runners will run in this neutral style
- 30 to 40 percent of people have over-pronation, where the feet roll incorrectly and are never entirely flat on the ground
- 5 to 10 percent of runners experience under-pronation where just the outside of the foot makes contact with the ground
Should I buy stability shoes or neutral running shoes?
The first thing you need to do is determine your running style or pronation rate. Knowing this will help you decide if you need a neutral or stability running shoe. You can visit a running shoe store and have them help you, or you can do a running check by yourself to see what your running style or pronation rate is so you can buy the right shoe for your needs.
If you are a person who belongs to the 50 or 60 percent of runners that run with a proper neutral style, neutral running shoes are best for you.
Should you be a runner that over- or under-pronates, you will benefit from a shoe that gives you better support where you need it.
If you are a neutral runner but weigh more than 13 stone, or around 180 pounds, having supportive shoes with higher levels of cushioning might help you feel more comfortable when running.
What are the Features of Neutral Running Shoes?
Neutral running shoes are known for their stable nature that adheres to the way your feet hit the ground without any additional components. Neutral running shoes are typically the most lightweight of all trainers and are quite responsive to the movements of a neutral runner.
Running shoes are often:
- Flexible and responsive to your movements
- Sit very low to the ground
- Strong and resilient enough to endure everyday training
- Lightweight enough to be worn all day long
These are the most baseline, defining features of nearly all neutral running shoes, but they vary in different ways such as support, material, cushioning, offset, and other factors. It isn’t necessary for shoes to fall into certain categories that define every single aspect of them.
If you need a neutral running shoe, it is best to do a search for them and find the one with features that match your needs, like having the proper amount of cushioning or an upper this is breathable enough for your needs.
- Neutral runners are best suited for a simple, comfortable neutral running shoe.
- Neutral runners who weigh more than 13 stone, or 180 pounds, might feel more comfortable with a supportive shoe even if they have a proper running style.
What are the advantages of a neutral running shoe?
Advantages of a neutral running shoe typically center around the proper, light level of cushioning right around the heel where neutral runners need it most. They are also typically lighter in weight, unlike support or stability trainers. Their curved or semi-curved nature also keeps the sole of the shoe from touching the ground, as there is no need for additional support in the front half of the shoe.
How to Judge a Gait
1. Pay attention to how you stand
- Stand in your typical shoes with your feet together
- Check the way your feet point; if they both face forward, you are likely a neutral style runner.
- If they are spread out to appear as a “V” when you look down, you probably have over-pronation.
- If your feet form a capital “A” shape, you likely under-pronate.
2. Test your arches
Arch tests will help to see if you have flat feet or high arches, which can affect your running style. Performing an arch test is simple and can be done in only a few steps, as follows:
1. Place some newspaper on the ground
2. Slightly wet your feet all over the bottom
3. Stand on the newspaper briefly
4. Step away and look at the imprint
- You have flat feet if you can see the entire outline of the foot
- You probably have neutral arches if both the front of the foot and the heel are visible as well as some of the arch
- You have high arches if the front of the foot and heel can be seen, but your arches are not within view
Neutral running shoes are the best choice for people who have a proper “correct” running style where their feet make contact with the ground in all of the right places and push back off again just as properly.
Having neutral running shoes can make your time spent jogging and walking more comfortably without unnecessarily weighing down your feet or trying to provide support where you don’t need it. Once you have figured out that your running type is neutral and correct, you’ll find that there are many advantages to running with neutral running shoes.