10 Best Neutral Running Shoes (Buyer's Guide)

Author: Jovana Subić. Updated: .

Neutral running shoes are mainly intended for people who pronate neutrally or underpronate. This guide will explain those terms in detail and showcase the best neutral running shoes on the market. 

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

How we review neutral running shoes 

  • We read reviews from 8,870 experts and 840,742 users
  • We aggregated all those reviews using our CoreScore system
  • The result: a collection of more than 1,800 neutral running shoes where each shoe is rated on a 0-100 scale 
  • We update our database on a daily basis

Popular running shoes aren't the better rated ones

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Do you need neutral shoes? 

Yes, if you pronate neutrally or if you underpronate (supinate). This is a widely-known general rule. However, novice runners might use neutral shoes as well, as shown in this comprehensive study of 927 novice runners. 

To figure out your pronation (foot mechanic), you can video your movement and see how your feet move, or look at your used footwear.

Wet test: discover your arch type

You can also do a so-called wet test to discover the type of your arches. 

  1. Wet the soles of your feet, one at a time
  2. Stand onto a piece of paper while allowing the moisture from your feet to sink into the paper
  3. Step off
  4. Look at the shape of your footprint and compare it to the ones shown below.  

If you have a high arch, the footprint will show only the front and heel of your foot with nothing in between. If there’s a thin line connecting them, you have a moderately high arch - better than the extreme.

If all this sounds too complicated, running specialty stores have treadmills with feet-scanning options. They can easily assess your pronation and tell you which features to look for in a shoe. Going to the specialist is also always a good idea as they can implement a holistic approach.

Features of neutral running shoes

It’s easier to understand features of neutral running shoes when the comparison is given, for orientation. 

 

 

Neutral 

Stability

Motion control

Lightweight

5

3

1

Softness

5

3

1

Supportive elements

1

3

5

Heel counter stiffness

1

3

5

 

Neutral running shoes are usually lighter than other shoes, because they don’t have additional stability features. Their outsole/midsole design is simple, without rigid implementations. They are softer and allow the feet to move freely. 

These are general properties only. There are extremes like neutral running shoes that are maximally cushioned and weigh more than 500g.

How to Recognize Neutral Running Shoes 

If you don’t want to check the features of the shoe online or ask the store employees, here’s how you can recognize neutral running shoes

For easier comparison, we’ll show how all 3 types of running shoes compare.

 

Neutral

Stability

Motion control

It folds and rolls (it’s not rigid, but soft)

More rigid than soft: it doesn’t fold and roll but bends a bit

Very rigid: it doesn’t bend in the middle, but has some flex in the forefoot area

It twists easily

Moderate torsional flex

Minimal to non-existent torsional flex

You can squeeze it

Not completely stiff

Stiff

No additional supportive elements in the sole 

Some stability elements in the sole 

Additional rigid elements in the sole that prevent the foot from rolling inward

Running-shoe market dropdown by stability features

Chances are the model you choose is the neutral running shoe, given that they occupy the majority of the running shoe market.

FAQ about neutral running shoes

1. Can overpronators run in neutral running shoes?

Overpronators need stability elements because those prevent the ankle from rolling excessively inward and leading to potential pain and injury. Neutral running shoes are not recommended, especially for severe overpronation cases.

2. Can neutral pronators run in stability running shoes?

Neutral pronators might run in any kind of shoe. In theory. But why risk stability features influencing your gait or why pay for features you don’t actually need? The good news is that 85% of running shoes are neutral shoes.

3. How reliable is the arch-type/pronation test?

It’s not difficult to assess arch type or pronation. The trouble comes when we realize that science doesn’t back this widely-accepted criteria for choosing a shoe (as explained here). That’s why it’s most important to choose the shoe that is comfortable. If you have a history of injuries or are experiencing severe pain, it’s imperative to see a specialist. 

The best neutral running shoes in every category

Which neutral running shoes brand has better reviews?

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Which brand is cheaper?

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Now, are you ready to buy neutral running shoes?

Author
Jovana Subić
Jovana Subić

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.

jovana@runrepeat.com