Tread Labs

What Are Your Running Shoes Trying to Tell You?

Your running shoes are speaking volumes – are you listening to what they’re telling you?

Take your running shoes, flip them over and examine the sole. You should see uneven wear on the underside of your shoe. Like your car tires, this wear is inevitable and totally normal. What you want to be concerned with is where the abrasion is located on the sole.

You will be able to see one of the following three wear patterns. Neutral Wear, Medial Wear or Lateral Wear. Understanding your wear patterns is extremely beneficial for improving your stride, preventing injuries, and purchasing your next pair of running shoes.


Let's jump right into it...

Neutral Wear

Neutral Wear will present itself as even abrasion throughout the ball and forefoot area of the outsole (the outermost layer of the sole). General speaking, people with the most energy-efficient stride present with neutral wear patterns. Weight is being transferred throughout the foot with a bio-mechanical process called pronation, the body’s natural way of displacing energy while taking a step.

If you are experiencing neutral wear, we recommend purchasing a stability shoe. Stability shoes are the most common. They are composed of two main ingredients: slight medial support and good mid-sole cushioning.

Medial Wear

Excessive medial wear on your sole is cause by overpronating, which occurs when your foot’s natural inward cushioning roll is exaggerated. This overstated motion can lead to ankle, knee, and hip-related running injuries. These aren’t helpful if you’re training for a marathon or striving for a PR 5k. Experts agree that a runner who overpronates should be wearing motion control shoes.

Motion control running shoes are constructed by using a stiffer heel and straighter last (or shoe form). In turn, this guides the foot and corrects weight transfer. 

Lateral Wear

Lastly, if your running shoe is marked by wear on the outer, lateral edge – you’re underpronating (also called supinating).  Underpronating is rare, only observed in about 5% of the running population. Nonetheless, it can lead to stress-related bone and joint injuries in the lower extremities. Research recommends a cushioning shoe to help prevent underpronating injuries.

Cushioning shoes assist in displacing energy during the impact of your stride. In other words, a cushioning shoe is used to make up for a lack of pronation.

Here's a short list of the best running shoes in each category. Enjoy.

Great Running Shoe Suggestions

New Balance 990V3: Stability Shoe

Great for logging longer mileage runs. Has a hint of medial support with a stiff heel adding more comfort. Extra points awarded for being made in the USA.

Newton Motion IV: Motion Control 

Great solution for runners who crave extra miles, but have been slowed down by pronation-related running injuries in the past.

Brooks Transcend 2: Cushioning Shoe

The Transcend 2 offers 25% more cushioning. Adding more cushioning distributes energy more evenly throughout each impact. Brooks also engineered a rounded heel design to reduce pressure on the ankle and knee joints.

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