What are neutral running shoes?

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Neutral running shoes are for those who do not over- or under-pronate

When you set out to buy a pair of running shoes, you need to know how your foot pronates in order to buy the ideal pair of shoes for your particular feet. Pronation refers to the way the arches in your feet flatten out when they hit the ground. If your feet neither over- nor under- pronate, then neutral running shoes are the best bet for your feet.

Pronation is the natural inward rolling of your foot when your heel strikes the ground. If you have neutral or basic pronation tendencies, the pressure on your knees and joints is relieved because your foot properly absorbs the impact when you step down on your feet. This type of foot is the foot of a neutral, bio-mechanically efficient runner.

However, not everyone is so lucky. Some people over-pronate when walking and running. When this occurs, the foot rolls inward far too much, and this can cause pain and injury to the knees. Over-pronators need to wear running shoes that are motion controlled and stable.

Under-pronators or supinators have feet that roll outward when they walk and run. If this is your situation, you need running shoes that provide flexibility and lots of cushioning.  Mild pronators can usually wear neutral running shoes. The feet of these runners roll inward slightly, which absorbs shock and enables the ankle to support the body properly.

Check out your feet. If you have flat feet, you have very little or perhaps no arch. This is a low arch. Those who have low arches often over-pronate when they walk and run. Look at shoes that you ve worn in the past. Look at the pattern on the soles. If you have a neutral stride, you will see that the wear and tear is in the middle of the ball of the foot as well as on a portion of the heel. If you supinate, you will see a lot of wear on the outer edge of your heels. If you over-pronate you will see wear marks along the inside edge of your shoe. 

Do you have a high arch? If so, the instep of your foot does not touch the ground as does the non-existence, or barely there arch of the flat footed person. People who have high arches often supinate, which means the foot rolls to the outside. 

If your foot is neutral, this means that you don't over- or under-pronate and don't have any particular structure issues with your feet so you are able to wear various running shoes with no problem, including neutral running shoes. 

A neutral running shoe is not designed to correct a foot issue or to balance out an issue. Neutral running shoes do not affect or correct the way your feet hit the pavement. 

If you are a neutral runner but run off-pavement you will need some cushioning in your shoes, which supports the arch side (or minimal medial) or your foot and also offers shock absorption. Some neutral runners tend toward a bit of over-pronation so they can benefit from stability running shoe that slows down over-pronation. A stability shoe may include a post that is in the mid sole.

A neutral running shoe generally has little or no stabilizing structural features. These shoes are for runners who aren't susceptible to injury.

When you hear the word  last  in regard to shoes this refers to the shape of the shoe as well as the form (mold) around which the shoe has been made. If you are a neutral pronator, the best last type for you is semi-curved. If you over-pronate you want a straight last because it controls inward motion. If you under-pronate you need rigid, high arches and a curve last that promotes inward motion.

Neutral running shoes that are considered maximum and top-of-the line provide good cushioning in the heel area and the forefront, and they can tolerate high mileage (meaning you can run long distances in these shoes) and are supportive. Moderate neutral running shoes provide cushioning and are considered average when it comes to running long distances. A performance neutral running shoe is created for racing and training. 

A neutral running shoe is more supportive than a racing flat but lighter, and you have less cushioning. Select your running shoes based on your needs and the type of feet you have.

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