What are the Different Types of Running Sneakers?

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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 15 January 2020
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Running sneakers may be the most important purchase for runners of all levels of experience. There are many different kinds of running shoes available that are designed to fit people of different abilities, sizes, and styles of running. To find the best running sneakers, a runner may want to visit a store where their gait can be analyzed and the perfect fit can be made. Generally, running sneakers are divided into four main categories: performance, neutral, stability, and motion-control sneakers.

There are subcategories that divide sneakers according to arch-type, pronation, cushioning, flexibility, and responsiveness. For example, arches can be high, normal, or low and a person can have normal pronation which means her foot rolls inward and helps absorb the shock or she can over-pronate. Cushioning refers to how firm or soft the sole of the sneaker is in the front of the shoe and in the heal area. Flexibility is the term used to address the torque that it takes to flex the sneaker, just as the foot is pushing off of the ground. Responsiveness is used to describe how well the shoe moves with the person’s foot.


Performance training sneakers are usually recommended for people who are racing. In addition, if a person has the perfect, efficient gait, she may be advised to try performance training sneakers. Brands and models vary widely for the amount of cushioning and support that is offered. Usually, this kind of sneaker weighs less than other types and fits snugly.

Neutral sneakers are typically suggested for people who need heavy cushioning in the midsole region. They offer little medial or side support. They are generally ideal for people who run in an efficient manner and who have little pronation. In most cases, neutral running shoes work well for people with normal or high arches.

Stability sneakers are generally ideal for people who have a mild over-pronation. The brands and models of stability running sneakers are usually designed for people with normal to low arches. They give the runner good support and plenty of cushioning in the midsole region. Motion-control running sneakers are sometimes recommended for women weighing more than 160 pounds (72.6 kg) and men weighing more than 185 pounds (83.9 kg). They also give plenty of support and cushioning.

Throw into the mix the various types of materials and laces and most people will find there is a running sneaker for everyone. For example, some shoes are waterproof and are perfect for running on damp or wet streets or trails. Other shoes have an aggressive tread on the sole of the shoe and are ideal for trail running. Sometimes, a person needs sneakers that she can slip on quickly. In those cases, there are laces that simply slide versus tie, to make a tight fit.


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