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DOCTORS OF RUNNING STABILITY RUNNING SHOE RESOURCE PAGE


Welcome to the Stability Shoe Resource Page at Doctors of Running. Here we provide a brief intro to stability shoes along with updates on the latest breakthroughs in stability running. We also provide a list of stability shoes we've reviewed to help you find your next running adventure. It is important to be able to find the right stability shoe for your needs to make sure you can get out the door and run as comfortably and safely as possible. If you have any specific questions about the content in this feature, please reach as at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

Introduction

Anyone who follows Doctors of Running knows we talk about stability an awful lot. Stability shoes - and runners - often get lumped into one category. You’re either neutral or stability a lot of places say. We have worked really hard to dispel that and talk about the different elements of shoes that can help runners match their needs. Stability in particular has changed in recent years with shoe brands innovating new strategies and implementations. We decided to take a first start at categorizing the ways stability has evolved through the introduction of this page.


What are Stability Shoes?

"When it comes to support, much of the running shoe industry focuses on stabilization of the midfoot and sometimes the heel. This is traditionally done with posting, or denser foam material meant to slow the inward roll (pronation) of the foot during loading response." - Editor Matt Klein from his feature on Midfoot Arch Support

Clear medial post in the midsole of the 860v12.
What is Posting in Stability Shoes? - Stability for a large portion of the running industry has been focused on rearfoot and midfoot posts. Posts usually involve sections of the midsole material being firmer than the rest of the shoe on the inner or medial side of the shoe. These are frequently referred to as duel-density foam. Since motion occurs through the path of least resistance, the post is designed to resist motion and facilitate it toward a different direction. Most of the time the posts are in the medial heel and midfoot. These particular designs are meant to assist the posterior tibalis, different muscles in the foot, ankle, and lower extremity that control pronation during the landing or initial contact and mid stance phases of gait. While posts have long been the forefront of stability shoes, recent years have shown a sharp turn from posts for alternative forms of guidance.

Alternative Branded Stability Tools Seen in the Industry Today

The Brooks Adrenaline series help pave the way for more shoes with a focus on guidance..
Brooks Running GuideRails Support System - Featuring two firm pieces of foam extending down the medial and lateral side of the shoe in lieu of a post. The rails help center the running forward, working to shift the runner from caving into either side of the foot. Most famously part of the Adrenaline series.
Puma runGUIDE - Seen in the Eternity Nitro, runGUIDE mimics GuideRails, providing sidewalls to the shoe's midsole to help center the runner forward.
Hoka J-Frame - Seen in the Arahi series, the J-Frame is a firmer density foam shaped in a J. It sits atop Hoka's regular foam, providing the runner a solid base on the medial side of the shoe and wrapping around the heel to some of the lateral side. The J-Frame provides not only a stable base for the foot, but some gentle forward guidance.
Mizuno's Wave Foam - Their least traditional stability model, the Horizon is somewhat like the J-Frame, combining densities of foam to provide a stable base for the runner. The latest version provides a soft foam - Enerzy - for cushioning, and a denser foam called U4iC to help provide some firmness to land on and prevent the foot from collapsing. A wave pattern helps push the denser foam in tactical places for added stability.
Mizuno's Wave Plate - Utilized for years instead of posting, Mizuno typically (with the exception of the Horizon above) uses a fan shaped design in their rear/midfoot wave plate. There are larger "waves" on the inner side and to some degree on the outer side of the foot, which resists motion in those directions  and facilitates motion toward the center/forward. 
Adidas Stable Frame - Used in the Solar Glide ST series, the Stable Frame is firmer material that sits at the outer edge of the midsole that guides the foot forward along the more soft center (usually Boost). 

Forms of Built-In Stability in Shoes Today

Example of geometry in the Asics Nimbus Lite 2. You can see the wide base throughout.
While stability often is approached as a singular device like posts or GuideRails, there are many ways shoes can provide a stable base for runners. Today's market in particular has done a good job of exploring these different methods to create very stable shoes that are overall "neutral," but still very stable at the same time.

Geometry - Perhaps the most popular form of stability right now. Geometry refers to added width throughout the base of the shoe, particularly the midfoot to help provide a wide platform to land on and prevent the foot from crashing medially or laterally.


Example of sole flare seen in Asics Kayano Lite 2.

Sole Flare - Sole flare is when the midsole extends further out than the upper to create a broader platform around your foot. This helps provide a base for the foot to push against, preventing it from collapsing into the ground medially or laterally. The combination of sole flare and geometry and be a simple and effective way to create stability without posts or unique technology. Adding sole flare to more traditional width shoes is often seen in neutral daily trainers to provide a hint of stability to the platform (see Puma Velocity Nitro).
Sidewalls - Sidewalls are usually an extension of the midsole upward alongside the foot. Built typically over the midsole connecting to the upper, sidewalls help provide a bit of structure to lock the runner into the shoe and keep it somewhat guided forward. These are somewhat similar in concept to guiderails, but are much less dense/obtrusive. They share the same density as the midsole material and those work to help keep the foot on the platform. 


Example of a sidewall in the Hoka Clifton 8
Full Ground Contact Outsole - A fully connected to the ground outsole helps provide controlled contact between the runner and surface to help a smooth motion forward. These are inherantly more stable as more surface contact means more inherent stability.
Heel Counters - These are the rigid pieces of usually plastic that surround the heel of many shoes. They provide structure to the back of the shoe and may help guide the back of the foot down the center of the shoe initially. Some people are sensitive to these however.


Heel counters can vary from extremely rigid to entirely flexible.
Plates or Rods- Although most people think of these as being propulsive, plates and rods really stabilize the ride and stiffen the sole (also known as increasing longitudinal bending stiffness). They also add torsional (side to side) rigidity, which tends to keep foot motion centered (depending on the plate and person).
Lateral Heel Bevel - The lateral heel bevel and rearfoot plate resist medial motion, so for those with excessive rearfoot pronation will find this helpful. Those that tend to go too far lateral however will not as it will push you farther in that direction. Best seen in the Adidas Adios Pro 2.

Stability Shoes Reviewed at Doctors of Running

Running Shoes with Posting
Those who want/need a more rigid block of material on the medial side of their feet and those who want the feeling of direct "support" or pressure into their arch may want a shoe with posting. 

Maximal Cushioned
Saucony Hurricane 23
New Balance Fresh Foam X Vongo v5
Saucony Omni 20
Asics Kayano 28

Running Shoes with Guidance
Those who are sensitive to posting but still want/need the shoe to help guide their foot in a certain direction.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
Brooks Launch 8 GTS
Puma Eternity Nitro
Hoka One One Arahi 5
Mizuno Wave Inspire 17
Adidas Solar Glide ST
ASICS GT-2000 10

Geometric Stability Running Shoes
Those who want stability without posting, guiderails or significant external modifications to the sole. 

Asics Kayano Lite
Asics Gel Kayano Lite 2
On Cloudflyer
Mizuno Wave Horizon 5

Stable Neutral Running Shoes
The following shoes are categorized as Neutral, but have an above average level of stability. Those who are sensitive to the above stability measures but still want a stable shoe will do well here. We always want to encourage people needing light stability to consider a wide range of options to meet their needs as the stability shoe sector can be limiting.

Nike Structure 23
(Formerly a posted shoe, Nike has morphed it into a neutral shoe with light stability through geometry)
Asics Nimbus Lite 2
(A generously wide platform with full ground contact outsole and some slight firmness)
(A rigid and significantly rockered sole with a wide platform keep motion directed forward)
Saucony Endorphin Shift 2
(Lots of overlays and structured upper provides a wealth of lockdown for the runner despite the high platform)
North Face Vectiv Infinite
(Despite being a high stacked trail shoe, lots of upper reinforcement with a wide base helps provide runners a very secure platform for the trails)
Hoka Mach 4
(Sidewall reinforcements and a wider base help provide a solid foundation to the shoe)
(Sidewall reinforcements, wider plate and carbon plate provide a locked in but slightly stiff ride)
Saucony Ride 14
(Sole flaring, good upper reinforcement, and flexible forefoot guiding runners helps promote a fairly stable platform for runners)
(Wave Plate, Slightly firmer ride, flexible forefoot helps promote a relatively stable platform)
(Wide base, energy rods and laterally biased heel bevel create a high level of stability that is not intrusive)
Puma Velocity Nitro
(Heel counter design helps add some guidance. Firmer heel provides stable rearfoot and full ground contact outsole helps keep shoe feeling stable throughout)
On Cloudstratus 2
(Guidance line through outsole, wider forefoot, firmer midsole, and rigidity from Speedboard helps provide a stable distance cruiser)

Strength Training
Regardless of shoe, always remember to incorporate some strength training in your work where you can! Visit our Performance and Rehab page for more information.

Further Recommended Reading
Forefoot Arch Support
- The science behind a rare posting in today's shoe seen.
Midfoot Arch Support and Post Tib - The two often go hand-in-hand.
Sole Flare - How a little extra foam goes a long way.
Discussion on Need for Variety of Stability (DPT Section)

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