Commit to going the distance—without the pain. We've collected some of the most supportive shoes on the market for summer 2016 to address your biomechanical needs and keep you pounding the pavement mile after mile comfortably and injury-free. Now, you may not yet know what your biomechanical needs are or what that means; but you do probably see support shoes thrown around with terms like "pronation" and "underpronation." Both of these speak to your body's individual running stride—its strengths and weaknesses—and if they don't mean much to you, don't sweat it; we mapped things out.
*Underpronation: You roll to the outside of your foot or shoe when your foot hits the ground. People with high arches are more apt to underpronate. *Overpronation: Your feet collapse inward when your foot strikes the ground. People with low arches or flat feet tend to overpronate. *If you have a neutral arch, you may pronate either way a bit, but for the most part you won’t have many biomechanics issues and can wear practically any shoe.
The Game Plan
Not sure which way you pronate or what your arch type is? No worries. "Bring your current running shoes with you to a shoe store," says NYC-based running coach Elizabeth Corkum. "The wear on the bottom of your shoe can offer clues as to form and support needs," she adds. Don't have the time to stop by a shop to see if you need a support shoe? Follow these tips:
Factor In Your Weight + Height: Larger athletes usually need more support, she explains, because that's added strain on your joints.
Take Note of Any Pain: "Arch pain can sometimes be a sign more support is needed," Corkum says. "And plantar fasciitis is common in runners who have very high arches or very flat feet."
Consider Your Regimen + Environment: If you run occasionally, you might not need a high-support shoe. "But, runners training for long distances on hard surfaces (marathoners who train on sidewalks/roads) commonly need some stability." Corkum adds.
Match your running style, arch type, and pronation pattern with the shoe's below. Syncing these factors will maximize comfort, improve running efficiency, and lessen your likelihood of injury.
Nike Air Zoom Structures have been Olympic mid- and long-distance runner Galen Rupp's go-to training shoe for years. You can see why: Unlike other high-support shoes typified by a certain heavy clunkiness, the Structure has been favored for being lightweight and offering bouncy rebound thanks to its Zoom Air unit in the forefoot. The newest iteration is even more advanced: An inner sleeve and Nike's own Flywire act like suspension cables on a bridge, hugging and locking down your feet through the midfoot, while a roomier toebox and base provide better stability. Soft foam cushioning underfoot makes for smoother strides and heel-to-toe transitions; and the shoe's outsole boasts a honeycomb pattern that serves as a crash rail for better traction.
If you want a moderate-stability shoe that's light enough to improve your speed and form but still boasts the features of a traditional stability shoe, try Altra's Provision 2.5. They consider this a "guidance shoe" because it helps address overpronation, so it keeps your foot from collapsing inward when you run. It's all thanks to the outsole. There are mini stability pods that flare out just a bit under your big toe, little toe, and outer heel when your foot strikes the ground. This creates a tripod of support that disperses shock and weight. Plus, the entire length of either shoe is raised 2mm on the inside edges to keep your weight from falling inward and potentially harming your knees and other joints. These features make the shoe light and flexible.
Find your stride in the Transcend 3: Brooks' most advanced support shoe. The outsole has three pressure zones in the rear, mid, and forefoot that scatter shockwaves and minimize impact. The outsole is framed with a sort of guide rail system that stabilizes your strides, letting your hips, knees, and ankles move in their unique, natural motion so you don't feel corrected, but you're moving efficiently. And, the rounded heel offers support and minimizes joint stress. This is perfect for runners who overpronate—whether you have neutral, low, or flat arches.
The most cushioned shoe in the HOKA ONE ONE lineup, the BONDI 4 offers an incredibly smooth, balanced ride. The tech is simple—and, well, apparent. The marshmallow-esque midsole gives you maximum padding but minimal weight, and loads of comfort and stability. The outsole is also sculpted so that you rock a bit from heel to toe to really propel you forward, while encouraging your natural running stride. Try these if you have a neutral arch and normal pronation.
The name, Paradox 3, alludes to the shoe's ability to give the proper stability you need without sacrificing the light weight you want. Mizuno does this by employing a wavy double fan-shaped plate (surrounded by foam) in the midsole to maximize motion control (which flat-footed runners need!). The shoe’s upper mimics your foot’s motion as it slides side to side, forward and back, for a completely supportive fit. Give these a test run if you have severe overpronation.
The Fresh Foam Vongo is designed using data from everyday runners. Its one-piece midsole has cushioning that's stable, not spongy, and a perforated midfoot wrap that offers structured flexibility to keep your joints aligned. Try these if you have neutral arches, but pronate a bit.
If you have flat feet (or a flatter arch) and overpronate, the Motion V is great because it has a stability platform in the forefoot that matches the shape of your foot and supports your weight without overcorrecting your stride. There's even a 4-way stretch mesh panel that sits atop your foot to keep pressure off the small bones and metatarsals. Wear these if you're racking up high mileage, endurance training, and/or racing.
APL tweaked their Load ‘N Launch® technology—which "bottles up" your energy through the compression phase of a jump, then releases it, effectively propelling your body and increasing your vertical leap at liftoff—for running. You have more power behind your toe-offs, so you can run faster while using less energy. What's more, the shoe has an internal open air mesh bootie that wraps your foot in lightweight comfort, stabilizing your movements. If you have a neutral arch, give these a spin.
These kicks from Adidas are plush yet stable enough for heavy pounding and mileage. The cushy midsole is made from hundreds of mini foam pellets that act as shock absorbers, so your impacts are less jarring and your joints are better protected. Meanwhile, the knit upper acts somewhat like a sock. It offers lightweight support that stretches and pretty much eradicates any chafing in the forefoot. Plus, the back of the shoe follows the natural shape of your heel for added stability. These are good for overpronators.
The Gel-Kayano 22 is ideal for overpronators because its technology enhances stability and support, while reducing weight. The rearfoot and forefoot are outfitted with shock-cushioning systems that absorb impact during toe-off phases and give your foot the room to move in different planes of motion (forward and back, side to side) through every stage of your stride. There's also a heel-clutching counter that keeps everything in place.
Pack some more power and stability in these Puma kicks; they're geared for long-distance running and designed with heel strikers and overpronators in mind. There's a stability zone in the midsole that prevents your foot and ankle from falling in and maximum cushioning for total support.
The Reebok One Distance 2.0 is in it for the long haul. You'll enjoy a midsole that cushions, stabilizes, and propels you through each stride, as well as a heel counter that supports your Achilles and offsets any twisting and rolling associated with overpronation that may occur when your foot strikes the ground. Essentially, these provide better motion control—perfect for mild to moderate pronators.
The GOrun Forza is a stabilizing running shoe with a simple mesh upper. Since it's promotes motion control, it's ideal for runners who overpronate: The midsole is structured to regulate your gait and encourage you to strike with your midfoot. Additionally, the toe box is roomy to allow for natural toe splay and the heel has a support strap that gives you a more secure fit.
Under Armour's Charged Bandit 2 uses a two-piece cushioned midsole that charges your stride with springy energy that also helps reduce the rate of overpronation. Deep flex grooves in the rubber outsole enhance flexibility, while a stretchy upper with an internal heel cup lock down your foot and give you that next-to-skin feel.
The Saucony Omni 15 is Saucony's most stable, supportive shoe. Compressive materials in the midsole and outsole of the shoe provide superior motion control as well as plush cushioning underfoot. Together, these features protect your joints and muscles from impact and severe pronation.
361 considers Strata their ultimate stability running shoe. Foam-like cushioning mimics the natural motion of your foot and guides your high-mileage runs with comfort and support. Theres a small medial post in the midsole that's firmer than the rest, which is specifically placed to keep your feet from pronating, as well as an arch bridge that provides additional support underfoot.