Different types of runnings shoes explained

Running shoes fall into one of several categories depending on their structure and intended use:

Cushioned Shoes

Designed for biomechanically 'neutral' runners, cushioned shoes have less added stability than motion control or stability shoes. If you have high foot arches and don't over-pronate when you run, then cushioned shoes are suitable for you.

Stability Shoes

Offer mild to moderate support to runners who slightly over-pronate and are looking for shoes that provide cushioning and durability. Pronation is a natural inward rolling motion of the foot but many runners will find that they prontate more than normal and therefore need running shoes to help prevent this. Stability shoes are for runners with normal foot arches, who have mild to moderate over-pronation but don't have any major problems with motion control.

Motion Control Shoes

The most supportive and rigid shoes available with heavy-duty stability and control features. Motion control shoes are designed for people with low arches and moderate to severe over-pronation - runners with excessive inward rolling of the foot. Motion control shoes are also suitable for heavier runners needing high durability in a shoe.

Lightweight Shoes

Lighter shoes are designed for faster-paced training and often also for racing in longer events such as half and full marathons. Lightweight shoes are more responsive than standard shoes but still offer some cushioning and stability features. Some lightweight shoes are suitable for everyday training for lighter runners.

Racing Shoes

Racing shoes are extremely lightweight with minimal cushioning and stability features and are designed for fast training sessions and racing shorter distances such as 5km – 10km. Some light, fast and biomechanically efficient runners can wear racing shoes for longer races.

Natural Motion Shoes

Natural motion shoes are designed to promote a running style similar to running barefoot, allowing the joints and muscles of the foot to move more naturally and encouraging a mid-foot strike. There are many types of natural motion shoes, some which are very minimal – almost like gloves for the feet. Others look more like a traditional running shoe but with minimal cushioning and greater flexibility.

Trail Shoes

Trail shoes are designed for 'off-road' running. They are designed to protect you when running on uneven, rocky and wet terrains by offering increased traction, stability and durability. Some are designed to handle specific conditions such as mud or mountains and others can handle a mix of terrain.


There are two types of spiked running shoes; track spikes and cross country spikes. Track spikes are divided further into sprint spikes, distance spikes and jumping spikes. Cross country spikes are designed to give excellent grip when racing over grass, through mud and on snow. All spikes are lightweight with barely any cushioning and have removable and replaceable spike pins which are available in different lengths.