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What are the Different Types of Running Shoes?

Paulla Estes
Updated May 23, 2024
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Choosing a new pair of running shoes can be a daunting task with so many options on the market. If you visit a running shoe store or pick up a magazine about running and jogging, you will find words such as pronation, supination, and neutral to describe your running style. You will find these shoes come in a variety of types and styles that include those for motion control, support, cushioning, and racing. You will discover that the type of shoes you need may depend on whether you do road or trail running, whether you are fast, slow or steady, and whether or not you race. Gone are the days when you would simply go into a store and find a pair of sneakers that fit. Today, choosing athletic shoes has become a science.

If you are in the market for a new pair of running shoes, don't despair. "Pronation" simply means your ankle rolls inward as you run, while "supination" means your ankle rolls to the outside; "neutral" is right in the middle. To find out what type of foot you have, put a paper grocery bag on the floor and wet the bottom of your foot with a sponge. Take a step onto the paper bag and look to see what kind of a print you made. A wide print means you are probably a pronator while a narrow print, or one with the middle missing entirely, shows that you are more than likely a supinator.

Running shoes are made to fit the three main types of running styles, but they also take into account gait, speed, weight, and pace. Sprinting shoes are built differently than the shoes of longevity that a marathoner would wear. Trail shoes are reinforced to be sturdier as a trail runner might encounter roots, rocks, or other obstacles, while street shoes are relatively soft and pliable.

Runners should always have a good pair of running shoes; do not be afraid to spend a fair amount of money on your shoes. Go to a running shoe specialty store and ask for a pair of shoes that fits your running style. Coaches and personal trainers can help you choose shoes as well. Pronators will need a straight shaped shoe while supinators require a shoe that is more curved. If you are a pronator with a flat arch, you will need a motion control shoe, but if you are a supinator with a high arch, you will require a specially cushioned shoe.

The many choices may seem confusing at first, but in the end, you will have the best shoe for your running style, which will mean better running health for your entire body.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Paulla Estes
By Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Paulla appreciates the flexibility and consistency that comes with contributing to Sports n' Hobbies. She relishes the opportunity to continuously learn new things while crafting informative and engaging articles for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon285250 — On Aug 14, 2012

@anon20011: Because not everyone has the same type of foot such as arch height, foot width, and stride pronation. The different types of shoes are intended to help the runner have the best possible stride.

By anon20011 — On Oct 23, 2008

why are different types of running shoes manufactured?

By bestcity — On Oct 09, 2008

Even if the shoes fit perfectly there are a few tricks that one can employ to make them even better. If the top of the foot is high, like mine, it helps to parallel lace the running shoes, it keeps the foot secure, but it does not put additional pressure on the top part.

If the toes feel a little cramped, using 2 laces on each shoe will help, so the bottom part can be looser, and the upper part can be laced tighter. These might seem like small changes but can be helpful, particularly to those who cover long distances.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes
Based in Maine, Paulla Estes is a freelance writer and website editor with a B.A. in English Literature from George...
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