10 Best Motion Control Running Shoes in 2021

Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic on
10 Best Motion Control Running Shoes in 2021

Disclaimer: Brands have different approaches to naming categories of supportive running shoes. So, we will be using the term ‘motion control’ in reference to shoes with the highest level of stability. The purpose of this guide is to educate, not to make any medical diagnosis or recommendation.

Although there are very few motion control running shoes on the market these days, we have put them all through our lab and wear tests to find the top performers.

Also, to make sure that motion control running shoes are the right choice for you, see our guide on pronation and shoe types below the top picks.

How we shortlist the best shoes with motion control

Even though very few brands still make running shoes with maximum support, we make sure not to overlook any. You can find models from Brooks, New Balance, Saucony, Hoka, among others in our rankings below. Here is how we end up with the top 10:

  • Buy shoes with our own funds to avoid brand loyalty and bias.
  • Determine whether a shoe can be classified as “motion control” based on our standards 
  • Summarize nearly 100,000 user and expert reviews for 30+ motion control shoes.
  • Take each pair on a test run of at least 30 miles before delivering feedback.
  • Cut shoes in half at RunRepeat lab and measure over 30 parameters that contribute to their performance.

Finally, we give each shoe a CoreScore from 0 to 100 to determine the best ones.

Best overall

It’s massive, and it sure is big on stability - the Saucony Omni 19 didn’t just give our feet all the support they needed. Even better, it’s unlike all the motion control running shoes we’ve come across.  

Underfoot, you get all the support and bounce you could ever dream of! 

The midsole may be stable AF, but the upper takes everything up a notch. It molds around the contours of the feet so well, we had NO issues with slips and wobbling. Even on sharp turns, we were surefooted as ever. 

And if you’re a severe overpronator in need of custom orthotics, fret not. This shoe is wide enough to accommodate custom insoles. 

If you want a pain-free ride, nothing does it better than this shoe. It’s shock-attenuating, and it dampened the impact so well, our feet and legs were fresh from the first mile down to the last. 

But what really shook us was the very light ride the Omni 19 delivered. It’s a massive titan on the outside and on paper (at 11.4 oz), but it’s the exact opposite on the run!

See our full review and facts

Best max-cushioned

Whether you’re an overpronator or a heavy runner, your feet will feel right at home in the Hoka One One Gaviota 3. Seriously, this is THE Bondi of overpronators. 

It’s one hell of a chunky shoe and it’s insanely padded from top to bottom. Having tested tens of stability shoes, nothing comes close to the plushness of this shoe. 

When we did our lab tests, we just couldn’t wrap our head around how cushioned the upper is. Even the tongue is two times thicker than the average at 10.3mm vs. 5.8mm! 

Yes, the midsole is soft, but it’s not the kind that’s mushy. Stability is not compromised in this shoe at all. It’s forgiving, and at the same time, it’s CRAZY supportive. 

Even the shoe’s heel screams stability. It’s stiff, as in stiffer than the average running shoe (107.9N vs. 64.1N). The rigidity amplifies the lockdown at the rear, preventing slips. 

And if you’re looking for a tank that’s going to eat up miles and miles of harsh hammering before retiring in your closet, this makes the cut. The midsole is not going to pack out easily, it has tons of rubber, and the upper is as solid as it can get!

See our full review and facts

Best durability

It’s a literal beast. The Brooks Beast 20 is among the toughest running shoes we’ve ever run in! 

After 50 miles of beating, it came out looking and feeling fresh as ever. The outsole and upper are scratch-free, while the midsole remains supportive and stable. 

And it doesn’t stop there. Your feet get all the protection they need with the copious amount of foam this behemoth has. 

Seriously, it can mute out everything underfoot, and you can expect it to last 400-500 miles before replacing it. 

You might think that this colossal shoe also indicates heftiness on foot. But just like us, it’s here to surprise you. It’s NOT.  

It looks heavy and it’s surefire heavy on paper at 11.7 oz, but not once did we feel like it was weighing us down.

And comfort is not lost in this motion control running shoe. Yes, it’s on the stiffer side, but it also has some give in the midsole to keep the feet feeling nice and comfy. Even more, there’s ample space in the toe box for a roomy toe placement.

See our full review and facts

What are motion control shoes?

Stability and motion control footwear helps to minimize the degree of overpronation and the discomfort associated with it. Unlike regular neutral running shoes, which have minimal interference with the foot biomechanics, supportive shoes have additional components that help stabilize the runner’s gait.

While stability running shoes are designed for mild to moderate overpronation, motion control trainers offer maximum support for the more severe cases.

Arch types and recommended shoes.png

Pronation is a natural inward rolling of the foot which occurs during its transition from heel to toe. But when it becomes exaggerated, moves past the comfort zone, or even causes pain in the feet, legs, or back, it is a clear sign of overpronation.

Learn more about different types of pronation and how to find out yours in our comprehensive guide on the topic.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this guide is to educate, not to make any medical diagnosis or recommendation.

What makes up a motion control shoe

To prevent the foot and ankle from excessively rolling inwards, shoes employ a whole system of components. Even though the key stabilizers are found in the back portion of the midsole, you can also find supportive elements in the upper that cooperate with them.

Primary stabilizers

Brands select different approaches: from incompressible TPU posts, shanks, and plates to the less intrusive technologies. We gathered some of the common examples below from the stiffest to the less rigid ones.

Stability technologies in motion control shoes.png

Here is what these technologies look like on the actual shoes:

saucony-guide-14-medial-post.jpg

Saucony Medial post embedded on the inner side of the sole (Saucony Guide)

brooks-guide-rails

Brooks GuideRails frame the foot on both sides (Brooks Adrenaline)

hoka-gaviota-3-half.jpg

The grey component at the bottom of the midsole is the Hoka J-Frame (Hoka Gaviota)

Secondary stabilizers

The upper design of motion control running shoes also tends to look and feel more substantial compared to neutral shoes. It is meant to keep the foot and ankle securely locked in to minimize the change of twisting or sliding sideways. Here are some of the features that help with that:

  • side overlays made of leather, suede, or sturdy fabric

hoka-gaviota-3-lacing.jpg

  • generously padded tongue and collar

hoka-gaviota-3-padded-heel-collar-and-heel-tab.jpg

  • rigid heel counter that clutches the rearfoot

Stability vs. Motion control shoes

To put it simply, take a stability shoe, amplify all its stabilizing components, and you get a motion control trainer. The latter would end up firmer, tougher, wider, steadier, and...pricier.

how-to-recognize-neutral-stability-and-motion-control-running-shoes.png

neutral shoe

stability shoe

motion control shoe

Looking at the bottom of a shoe can also tell you about its stability level at a glance:

Running shoe outsoles according to arch support.png

Sole width and curvature on a motion control vs. neutral shoe

motion-control-vs-neutral-shoe-outsole.jpg

With all the added materials, technologies, and research put into stabilizing footwear, there is a clear tendency in their pricing policy.

average-msrp-of-running-shoes-split-by-stability-features.png

But the good news is that you can get almost any motion control shoe at a discounted price.

Frequently asked questions

Can shoes really correct overpronation?

Not exactly.

Studies show that supportive footwear can help with gait correction only slightly (think 2%) [sources: 1,2,3]. But there is definitely a benefit from having a firmer, wider, and laterally more stable platform as compared to a marshmallowy-plush neutral shoe that squishes instantly under the inner side of your foot.

Alternatively, consider a pair of custom orthotics to maximize your chances of receiving a more accurate, individual support that your feet need. A pair of shoes with removable insoles should help to accommodate the orthotic inserts.

Why are there so few motion control shoes?

Bulky medial posts and TPU shanks found in motion control shoes are quickly becoming a thing-of-the-past as runners ask for lighter, less intrusive alternatives. Even the long-time stability favorite like Asics Kayano got released in a more stripped-back Kayano Lite edition that feels more like a neutral shoe with no loss in stability.

Secondly, because there is a thin line between motion control and stability, most brands even merge them into one category named “Support.” In addition, we see the rise of the so-called “Inherent support” category that bridges the gap (that no one knew existed) between stability and neutral running shoes, pushing motion control shoes further out of the picture.

Are there any motion control shoes for trail running?

No. But there are quite a few stability trail shoes to choose from.

However, all of the motion control shoes above are rugged and durable enough to be used as hybrid shoes for hard-packed, non-technical trails.

Author
Jovana Subic
Jovana Subic

Whether it's a vertical kilometre or an ultra, climbing in the Alps or exploring local mountains, Jovana uses every opportunity to trade walls and concrete for forests and trails. She logs at least 10h/week on trails, with no off-season, and 4x more on research on running and running shoes. With a background in physics and engineering management, she prefers her running spiced with data.