What are neutral running shoes?
Neutral road running shoes are designed for runners who do not overpronate (i.e. the feet do not roll inwards too much), in other words they have a naturally stable foot strike. The midsole doesn't feature any form of support for stability – like medial posts or guide rails – as a neutral gait doesn't need any correction.
In our experience only 20% to 30% of runners need neutral running shoes. A very small percentage of those are supinators – i.e. runners whose feet roll outwards. A supinator would also usually a neutral shoe with plenty of flexibility. Here’s the pick of this season's neutral shoes from our range...
The benefits of a specialist neutral road running shoe
- Promotes soft, responsive cushioning for comfort
- Absorbs shock from running
- Enhances neutral foot strike
- Encourages smooth transition from foot strike to toe off
- Offers flexibility for natural, easy ride
- Uppers hold the foot securely
- Lightweight feel
Get the best running shoes for YOU
It's very important to get the right level of support and flexibility when running on road. We always recommend you come into one of our stores for gait analysis and a proper fitting, so we can make sure you end up with suitable shoes for your foot strike and foot shape. It also gives you a chance to try out different brands and types of cushioning.
The shoes in this category would suit a long-distance runner (such as marathons or ultras), a heavier runner, those prone to aches and pains in the feet or legs, or simply those loving the extra comfort of soft, bouncy cushioning.
Nimbus is the top-end neutral running shoe in the Asics range. An extra layer of gel cushioning in the midsole makes this shoe extremely soft and bouncy. It also delivers you a step-in comfort and excellent impact absorption. The memory foam heel counter adapts to the shape of your heel to offer you additional comfort. The seamless engineered mesh upper adapts to your feet to deliver you a premium fit without any irritation. In comparison with the Cumulus the Nimbus is the higher-class shoe – you get more softness and bounciness in the cushioning and in the heel counter as well.
The Glycerin is Brooks’ plushest neutral road running shoe. It has softer feel than the Ghost due to the full length soft DNA LOFT cushioning. Even though the midsole is soft and bouncy it still gives you a responsive feel as well. The double jacquard mesh upper is incredibly soft and breathable, and stretches where needed, enhancing the comfort this superior running shoe offers.
The strongest characteristic of the well-loved Brooks Levitate is the energy return feature. With each step you take, the super lightweight DNA AMP cushioning compresses and expands to spring you off the ground, energising your run and enhancing your speed. The knitted mesh upper is soft and breathable, designed to offer you luxurious comfort.
The Hoka Bondi is the ultimate in softness. All Hoka shoes feature double the amount of cushioning in comparison with any other running shoes. The Bondi has a 4mm heel drop, compared to 14mm in standard shoes. (This is the difference between the height of the heel and forefoot.) A low heel drop encourages you to land on your midfoot rather than your heel, which means significantly less impact on your knees, hips or Achilles. The double EVA cushioning in the midsole comforts and protects your feet. The early stage Meta-Rocker rocks you forward from midfoot to forefoot and toe-off. This can feel very different to other shoes, especially in the beginning. Start the transition slowly and give yourself enough time to get to used to it. There is no limit to the distance: you can use the Bondi on your short, or long runs, for distance running or walking, or even ultras.
Top of the New Balance neutral range. FreshFoam technology in the midsole delivers outstandingly soft cushioning to take away the impact forces from your running. The Hypoknit upper is breathable and seamless to hold your foot in comfort. The UltraHeel heel counter has a very different look to a traditional heel counter. This latest design has been made according to the data collected from hundreds of runners to make it fit very precisely, alongside of the soft materials used, so it offers you security and comfort. The 1080 has a very similar feel to the Hoka Bondi, with its ultimately soft cushioning and the rocking feeling, even though the 1080 is built on a higher (8mm) heel drop. Available only in the wide fit.
The Triumph is Saucony’s premium neutral road running shoe. The PWRPUN plus cushioning in the midsole is incredibly soft, similar to Adidas Boost cushioning. It provides you with an amazing energy return and excellent shock absorption. The foot strike to the toe transition is very smooth, thanks to the shoe geometry. Every element of the FormFit upper – the breathable mesh with 3D print, the padded tongue and heel counter, the soft and antibacterial sockliner – is designed to give you ‘a made for me feel’. Overall, the Triumph is an incredibly cushioned and super smooth road running shoe.
Neutral running shoes with the increased flexibility are designed to empower the runner who likes a natural ride. They would also suit a supinator (under-pronator).
Brooks implements the best technologies for a balance of softness and responsiveness in their cushioning. Brooks’ most popular neutral running shoe, the Ghost, combines firmer DNA and the softer DNA LOFT to deliver great shock absorption and a smooth ride. In addition, the Ghost has an amazing fit. The engineered, breathable mesh upper gives your foot space to breath, but the structure also holds your foot. The outsole rubber is very durable, with a bit of grip, just in case you need to use it for occasional off-road runs.
New Balance have introduced their FreshFoam super soft cushioning into the midsole of the 880 to deliver you a bouncier ride. The newest upgrade makes this neutral running shoe more comfortable, and with better shock absorption, than ever before. It has a responsive feel, very similar to that of the Brooks Ghost but the heel counter in the 880 is deeper to hold your ankle more securely.
This is the most popular neutral On running shoe ever. The Cloudflow has a natural, responsive, close-to-the-ground feel. The Clouds – the rounded white bubbles on the sole – squeeze under your body weight to give just the right level of cushioning when you run. You strengthen your feet while running in the Cloudflow because it's extremely flexible. The 6mm heel drop makes it closer to the ground and stable. It also encourages you to midfoot strike for a more natural landing and to decrease impact. The fit is more generous, but it is not wide enough for runners with wide feet.
If you're a lighter weight runner or like the freedom of a fast feel, you could try these.
This latest version has the new upgraded PWRRUN cushioning, which is EVA based, but it gives you 88% more energy return compared to standard cushioning. It is also more durable and temperature resistant. As with all Saucony road running shoes the Ride is built on an 8mm heel drop, to keep your body in more natural alignment by encouraging a midfoot strike rather than heel strike. The new FormFit upper construction is designed with soft and breathable materials to keep your feet comfortable and secure.
The Cloud X is a great option for runners who want to use their running shoes for walking or in the gym as well for strengthening exercises. This lightweight, flexible, neutral shoe can be used for any type of workout. It has a slightly snugger, more fitted fit in comparison with the Cloudflow but with the same natural, close to the ground feel. The lower (6mm) heel-drop encourages a midfoot strike.
Nike use Air cushioning in the Pegasus. The air bubbles compress under pressure to offer you softness and absorb the impact from running. This latest version has a narrower fit in comparison with the previous version. Even though the Pegasus is a good, standard road running shoe, you will find more technologies, comfort and durability in the running shoes from other running brands.
As with all Asics shoes, the Cumulus features gel technology to offer you great bouncy cushioning and to reduce the impact from your running. The Guideline Trusstic technology, under the arch in the midsole, makes this neutral shoe very stable. The characteristic Guidance line on the outer sole encourages you to transition smoothly from heel to midfoot and toe-off.
Zero-drop shoes are very specialised. Runners landing on their forefoot or midfoot will appreciate the natural, close-to-the-ground feel. Forefoot or midfoot landing has less impact on your body and decreases stress that can lead to injury. These are also a great option for runners who are transitioning to midfoot landing. If you are not used to a zero-drop shoe, it can take time to adjust. Make sure you build up your mileage gradually, or you may encounter calf or Achilles problems.
A natural foot shape and a zero-drop midsole are the two main characteristic of all Altra shoes. The forefoot shape of the Escalante is broader, to give your toes more space and allow them to spread naturally. The zero-drop platform encourages you to land on your midfoot or forefoot rather than your heel. There is still plenty of energy return cushioning in the Escalante's midsole for a smooth, energised ride and rebound. It can be use for any distance, short up to the ultra runs.
The Altra Torin features the same attributes as the Escalante: the natural wide foot shape and the zero-drop midsole, encouraging a natural midfoot strike and giving you comfort in the form of extra space in the toe box. The Torin has a thicker sole than the Escalante, so more cushioning for extra soft comfort and a more luxurious ride.