Stability Shoes - Our guide to help you choose
Posted on March 03 2021
There is much to be read about choosing running shoes and it can seem like a difficult choice. With this blog we help you think through what might work best for you.
Generally people choose stability, or support shoes when they have a problem with their feet rolling inwards when they run. The effect of rolling in like that is referred to as Overpronation.
This table gives you an overview of the different issues we can face when running.
Its not always the case that running styles causes injury problems for runners, the evidence is patchy regarding that, however what is clear is that some people do suffer with other problems when this happens
Generally speaking, if you have flat feet your feet will roll in and that can have implications for your knees and hips.
Getting a professional gait analysis by trained physiotherapists will help determine if your overpronation has potential implications for injury influenced by your running style and we would recommend Joint Dynamics https://www.jointdynamics.com.hk/ as a great place to get this done.
Good alignment will decrease the probability of getting injured and stability shoes are designed to compensate for this overpronation and bring things back in alignment. Alternatively, orthotic insoles can also be tailor-made from a gait analysis to allow for the necessary correction to be made in whichever shoe the insole is inserted (with some exceptions - see later). Shoemakers have approached the challenge of overpronation by producing shoes that attempt to prevent the foot rolling in and almost all brands have a range of shoes to do this.
The most common solution is to construct the midsole from foam with two levels of density.
The New Balance 860v1 would be a good example. https://gone.run/collections/new-balance-860
The area marked on the shoe above is made from a much denser foam which does not deform like the rest of the midsole and this has the effect of supporting the arch as the foot transitions through the stride. The degree to control is determined by the density of this foam and its size relative to the rest of the midsole. The NB 860 v10 is a shoe designed for people with a relatively high level of overpronation
There is an overall trend to lighter shoes and one of the disadvantages of this approach is the additional weight the dense midsole material adds to the shoe, so manufacturers have been trying to find ways to mitigate this.
The New Balance FuelCell Prism is a lightweight stability shoe which has reduced the weight by limiting the size of the medial post.
The compromise obviously is that the control provided is somewhat less than in something like the 860, but what you get is a much lighter shoe. The FuelCell Prism functions very well also as an everyday trainer for people who do not overpronate.
ALTRA have taken a different approach to providing stability. ALTRA believe the foot responds to being nudged back into line when the overpronation starts, a bit like the concept of crash barriers on the motorway. With that in mind, instead of making a stiffer medial post, the shoes have "GuideRails" on the medial side of the shoe
The Paradigm 4.5 is a good example of this. https://gone.run/products/altra-mens-paradigm-4-5
Furthermore, ALTRA believes different people will need different levels of stability and if you are heavy enough to compress the mid sole, additional support is provided by hard "Stabilipods" which help with a kind of mini-medial post correction when needed.
ALTRA have further innovated to tackle the challenge of combining stability and light weight by developing a unique construction which provides progressive support to the arch. The more overpronation happens, the more support. They refer to this as the INNOVARCH.
This is incorporated into the Provision 5
The Provision 5 has the unique INNOVARCH cradle which is completely detached from the inside of the shoe and effectively lifts the arch up and provides progressive support the more the foot overpronates. The shoe also incorporates Guiderail technology,
So there are a number of ways to provide protection from overpronation and its is worth investigating if the use of this technology can help you prevent injury.
And finally a word of warning..... if you are a heavy overpronator to be extremely cautious with the new range of highly cushioned, extremely soft Carbon Plated shoes. In most case, the carbon plates are enclosed in extremely soft foam to help rebound and we have seen many overpronators struggling to control the roll of their foot in these shoes. We stress that there is considerable risk wearing these shoes for people with overpronation issues. Please take care.