No more putting off buying running shoes that actually work for your foot mechanics. For most people, that means sneakers designed for neutral feet.
“Neutral running shoes are designed for runners who have a neutral stance where the foot is neither excessively pronated (rolling inwardly on contact with the ground) or supinated (rolling outwardly on contact with the ground),” explains Scott R. Lurie, DPM, founder of Park Avenue Podiatry Associates in New York City.
These runners often require shock absorption, cushioning, and road-feel rather than more support or control of motion, says Lurie, noting that there has to be a happy medium of sorts. “While some runners enjoy more of the “road-feel, I find it is not the best for the skeletal structure as a whole,” he says.
Yes, there’s the barefoot running school of thought, but he’s not in that camp: “Our bodies need to find a way to attenuate shock and impact with each foot strike. Barefoot running or shoes that mimic this may be what the runner feels comfortable with, but we must look at the long-term impact on our knees, hips, and spine,” Lurie stresses, elaborating that repetitive jarring of our skeleton will ultimately lead to degenerative arthritic changes in our bones and joints, as well as the potential for stress injuries to muscles, tendon, and ligaments.
What Are Neutral Running Shoes?
Thankfully, it’s possible to find sneakers that strike a balance between barefoot-inspired styles and full-fledged stability sneakers. “Typically, neutral shoes are lighter than stability shoes. Generally the midsole will have a lighter color which resembles a better response during mid-foot strike,” says ankle surgeon/podiatrist Mark J. Mendeszoon, FACFAS, FACPM, a partner at Precision Orthopaedic Specialties Inc in Chardon, Ohio and the owner of Achilles Running Shop in Willoughby, Ohio and Erie, Pennsylvania.
As Mendeszoon highlights, since neutral shoes tend to be narrower in the forefoot, it’s key to make sure there’s ample space in the toe box so your toes aren’t cramped and have the ability to move. “Some neutral shoes will have eccentric lacing, so it is critical that the shoes are laced up properly and not too tightly as that may cause tingling or numbness on the top of the feet or in the toes,” he says. (Eccentric lacing is where the shoe eyelets are staggered and offset.) Most neutral shoes should be worn by runners who are midfoot or forefoot strikers and not heel strikers, he adds.
In terms of shelf-life, Mendeszoon says that neutral shoes may have a tendency to break down or wear out a bit quicker than stability shoes. “Thus, they may not always last for the typical 500-mile range,” he says.
One more thing: Neutral runners can wear stability shoes of varying degrees, but doing so should be carefully considered as too much control may lead to decreased shock absorption and create new problems that did not exist before, says Lurie. If you need more guidance on what shoes are right for you or if you might benefit from custom orthotics, see a podiatrist, fellas.
8 Neutral Running Shoes for Men
These pairs of neutral running shoes to help you do your best on your next jog or run. And as always, if you shop for sneakers online, check the return policy to ensure you can return or exchange sneakers if they aren’t right for you.
These kicks from On have a name that just rolls off your tongue, and they certainly live up to the running-on-fluff feeling their title evokes. Billed as the brand’s ideal neutral shoe, these lightweight yet fully cushioned shoes are great for all skill levels and run durations. The Cloudtec technology aids in granting the user powerful takeoffs and an ultralight mesh upper fits like a glove. It’s also available in a wide fit here.
The UA Flow Velociti Wind 2 is built to support longer-haul speed, with stellar responsiveness, energy return, and plenty of grip on the sole, so you don’t lose your stride over an errant pebble or nook in the road. The new shoes also boast a smartly designed upper, called the UA Warp, that molds to your foot during all stages of your stride. Bonus: These sneakers connect to GPS run tracker UA MapMyRun, which tracks and analyzes your running data to help improve your performance.
The standout for these neutral running shoes are the so-called DNA Loft midsole, which ushers in a softer, smoother ride. This Ghost model also has an enhanced fit, so the shoe adjusts even more comfortably to your foot. As Mendeszoon puts it, this is “a comfortable fitting shoe that provides a slightly wider sole, which can provide a bit more ground contact balance/stability.” Soft landings and powerful takeoffs, here we come.
Mendeszoon calls these “a tremendous, lightweight, neutral shoe that has a quick and responsive feel,” and we wholeheartedly agree. With solid heel support, a great fit, PWRRUN cushioning, and more, these sneaks may cost a pretty penny, but they’re worth the investment for marathoners who want the benefits of a carbon plate. For a more affordable neutral running shoe from Saucony, we recommend the Saucony Kinvara 13 ($120; also available in a wide fit), which also features the responsive PWRRUN cushioning, as well as a beveled midsole and streamlined midfoot contouring for a super comfortable run.
Mendeszoon likes that these sneakers provide “maximum cushion and a smooth transition during ground contact.” They also may provide the runner with a bit more shock absorption, he adds. Specs-wise, they’ve got a full EVA midsole, breathable mesh upper for superb ventilation, and a beveled heel design for smooth transitions and to extend the shelf-life of your shoes.
If a versatile, neutral running sneaker is what you seek, these performance trainers are among our favorites. First, we love the company’s FootShape design for a more natural fit. Then, we love Altra EGO midsole foam for superior responsiveness and a smooth experience. Oh, and lest we forget, the neutral InnerFlex midsole grooves help promote supreme flexibility and ease of movement. Remind us why it took us so long to go Altra?
These might not be the flashiest shoe Nike makes, but it might be the most dependable for neutral runners looking to log lots of mileage. This lightweight daily trainer features the brand’s ZoomX foam for some extra zip, along with Zoom Air cushioning in the forefoot to help make the impact of all those foot strikes a little more comfortable. To keep your feet from overheating, the upper has strategically placed mesh spots to cool them off.
One of Adidas’ top silhouettes is no slouch for your runs, with a high stack of Boost foam for extra energy return to keep your legs moving. This iteration has an upper made from recycled ocean plastic, if conservation is your thing.
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io