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Running 101: Sneaker Lingo

If you take care of your feet, ankles, knees, and hips, you should be able to pound the pavement for a good long while. Sneakers are important — you just got to love your kicks. Running shoes are designed to not only to cushion the impact of each stride, but also to support your foot and, in some cases, help correct gait and faulty biomechanics.

When shopping for shoes, you need to know your lingo. The following terms are as important as pump, wedge, and mule, and help explain the features you can find in sneakers.

  • Motion Control: This shoe style is recommended for runners who overpronate, or roll too far over the inside of their foot. These shoes tend to be stiff to help control the undesirable pronation by creating extra support in the inside of the arch. This type of shoe is also recommended for runners who are heavier and need extra support. If you have low arches or flat feet, these shoes are for you.
  • Stability: I like to think of this style of shoe as "motion control lite." They are great for runners who have mild to moderate pronation issues, with low to normal arches. These shoes also tend to be stiff.

To see the other two terms you should know,


  • Neutral: The name pretty much says it all — neutral shoes are just that. The shoe is not designed to prevent the rolling associated with pronation. If you tend to run more on the outside of your feet, known as supination, these are the shoes for you. Great for high to normal arches, and according to Runner's World this style is generally recommended for runners who make ground contact with their mid- or forefoot.
  • Performance: If you run to race, a performance shoe would be your race-day shoe. They weigh less than regular running shoes so you can be "fleet of feet." They also tend to fit a bit more snug than the styles listed above. These shoes aren't generally recommended for training for runners with bad biomechanics since they have the corrective details found in a motion-control sneaker. The cushion and stability of performance shoes tend to vary from brand to brand.

When shopping for the right style of sneaker, I find it helpful to go to a specialty running store and try on a bunch and run around the block in them. The sales people are often serious runners themselves and can offer great sneaker advice.

What style of sneaker do you wear?


Join The Conversation
laura9876543 laura9876543 8 years
I just discovered Nike Vomero 3, im a heavier, high arched supinator and they have to be the best running shoes i've ever tried! I also find them very very pretty :) I think the colors might vary between briton and the US though as im pretty sure the first picture on this thread is the same but in a different colorway
mwmsjuly19 mwmsjuly19 8 years
Always Asics...Never Nike.
Spectra Spectra 8 years
You kind of get what you pay for with running shoes. They may be expensive, but it's worth it if it saves your knees and ankles from tendonitis or ITB syndrome. And running shoes aren't supposed to be gorgeous; they're designed to be functional. We have a really cool running shoe store in our city that's owned by runners and they do indeed let you take the shoes for a "test" run outside or on their treadmill if you want. They're a lot more helpful than the average shoe salespeople.
ohbaby7 ohbaby7 8 years
Can you really try them on and run around the block in them? LOL well i always have trouble finding the right shoes
Allytta Allytta 8 years
you really brainwashed me into buying some proper running shoes. but guess what? can't find any that are affordable and don't look ugly! it's very frustraiting if you ask me. why do they design running shoes to be so complicated? not the structure, but the appearence. it's a good thing it's a n awful weather here in London and I can't run outside yet. otherwise i'd go crazy...
NouraBee NouraBee 8 years
Adidas 4 eva ~
xtinabeena xtinabeena 8 years
i'm a medium-high arched pronator and i love my asics gt 2100 series.... i think they are up to 2130 by now. but i keep buying these! they work great for me.
Alimode Alimode 8 years
I'm a high-arched supinator, and I love my Asics Nimbus!
niicoollaa niicoollaa 8 years
anyone have any good suggestions for high-arched, overpronators?
tlsgirl tlsgirl 8 years
I just wish they hadn't discontinued my favorite cushy, high-arch-perfect running shoe, because I still haven't found a replacement.
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
Great run down, thank Fit!
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