Running Trainers- the difference between Neutral, Stability and Motion Control Trainers. Is it important?

Shopping for running trainers is a minefield. It is hard to know where to start, let alone what you should end up with!  The trends and the technology are changing all the time and on top of that many runners still want something that looks good.

First off let’s start with what all the different types mean.

Motion Control: These shoes are typically the most rigid and heavy shoes available. They have more support and cushion than other running shoes. They are typically recommended for people with flat feet, or who are heavy runners.

Stability: Stability shoes are recommended for people who overpronate. This means your foot tends to roll inward slightly when you are running. They provide a slight arch support in the sole and have firmer material along the inside edge of the shoe to help control the amount you roll inwards.

Neutral: As the name suggests, neutral shoes are designed for people with a neutral gait, who have fair foot posture and mechanics. They tend to be middle of the road for support and cushioning.

Minimalist/Barefoot: These shoes tend to have little to no cushioning or support. They are meant to mimic barefoot running as closely as possible while still providing the protection from a sole. The sole tends to be completely flat and very supple. You need to have fair mechanics and already be strong to tolerate this style of footwear. They require a very gradual approach to introduce these into your running and are best for shorter runs and sprint sessions.


If you are new to running buy something comfortable and progress yourself slowly, even if you’re finding it easy at first. 10% increases per week maximum and ensure you are niggle free before any increases in training.

If you have been running a while now and are thinking your trainers are looking like they need an upgrade you can plan this in a little more detail. Match the shoe to the type of running, distances, your body type etc. to get something that meets all your demands. If you do different types of running (trail, distance, speed, track work) you will need different types of trainers.

If you have an injury and are thinking new trainers will be helpful (due to advice or if your pain started within a few months of wearing your current trainers) then considering your foot posture and how you move may be helpful to guide you in this. If you have any doubts or are unsure on how to get this right then pop in for an assessment with one of the physios.

If you are an experienced runner and have been running well and injury free and are looking into getting some new trainers … then go and get hunting for the exact make and model you currently have! If it isn’t broke then don’t try and fix it.