At a fundamental level, the current assortment of running shoes can be divided into two groups – one with a firmer medial post, and another without it. These categories are commonly marketed as ‘stability’ (with a medial post) and ‘neutral’ (without a medial post).
At the same time, the vast selection of stability models often means that no two shoes share an identical ride character.
Some stability shoes have a small medial wedge while others have a gigantic post that extends from the heel to midfoot. Also, the number of models without a wedge is on a steady rise.
Then there are numerous variables such as the difference in shoe weight, midsole softness, and the outsole footprint.
Due to the sheer breadth of available features and models, stability shoes can be further divided into sub-categories. Some stability shoes exhibit a noticeable ‘motion control’ behavior. This means that the outer midsole is easier to compress than the inner side.
Other stability shoes feel like neutral shoes or lightweight trainers. They lack the sensation of firmness that accompanies a medial post.
The recent shoe releases also suggest that the medial post is going extinct. Newer stability shoes have evolved to edit the firmer wedge in its entirety. ‘Supportive-neutral’ is the term Solereview uses to describe these converts.
So why do conventional ‘stability’ shoes exist? All brands that promote stability running shoes claim that the latter minimizes inward foot roll, and how only ‘overpronators’ should wear the said category of running shoes. We’ve spent enough time discussing this subject in the past, so we’ll skip that today. The big picture being, the medial post has always been a questionable example of pseudo-science.
Whether a runner prefers a stability shoe (or not) is purely a matter of personal preference. Some like the sensation of a firmer medial post under the foot, and that’s a good reason to run in them. In the same vein, not all stability shoes are the same, so a subjective decision-making process will apply.
Here, we’ll try to make the search process easier by sorting stability running shoes into three different sub-categories.
The first category represents the most popular assortment of stability shoes. These shoes are your daily trainers with mild support features. The medial post isn’t very intrusive, and in most cases, they are completely absent. Familiar models like the Brooks Adrenaline and Saucony Guide have been reintroduced without the medial post.
The Asics Kayano 26 did not feature on the previous version of this guide, and nor does the recently released Kayano 27. The way we see it, the Kayano’s soft/firm rearfoot’s dual nature results in a cushioning bias, and its motion control character becomes obvious.
The second category is max support.
Here, the weight and dimensional considerations go out of the window, and brands build the most stable running shoe with no holds barred. Design features like an oversized medial post, an ultra-wide outsole footprint, and a high weight are common on such shoes. Even here, models like the Brooks Beast have abandoned the firmer wedge.
Lastly, there are lightweight trainers with a mild stability treatment. Those models are speed-friendly running shoes with a difference – the midsoles come with a tiny medial post.
Our recommended list of running shoes is arranged by stability sub-categories:
Daily stability trainers – mild support
1) Asics Gel GT-2000 9
There’s no dearth of information about the Asics GT-2000. This prolific running shoe is, after all, one of the most popular stability models of all time. Though the ‘9’ suffix in the shoe’s name suggests that the GT-2000 has been around for nine years, most of us forget that the GT-2160 existed long before the 2000s series existed.
What makes the GT popular is its balanced ride character. Here, everyday cushioning is blended with mild motion-control elements like a barely noticeable medial post and plastic shank. The stability features aren’t overdone, so the GT-2000 feels like a supportive neutral shoe. Well, almost.
There’s only a slight hint of a medial post on the inner side. The rest of the midsole has a generous amount of cushioning that’s delivered by the Flytefoam core and rearfoot Gel. As such, the GT works well as a supportive daily trainer that is also capable of long-distance runs.
The upper is comfortable with the right fit proportions. The insides fit smoothly and true-to-size. The GT is also available in an optional wide (2E).
2) Asics Kayano Lite
The Kayano Lite is an interesting product. Though it borrows the well-known name from the standard Kayano, its ride quality is nothing like the medially posted Kayano 27.
The Lite variant eschews the use of visible Gel, plastic midfoot shank, or the medial post that’s otherwise seen on the regular model.
Instead, the midsole cushioning and support is delivered by the high volume Flytefoam midsole. The thick stack and insole produce a comfortable ride that makes high-mileage runs go easy on the feet.
On the other hand, the wide midsole results in a planted underfoot feel without the blocky feel. The transition groove under the heel also keeps the weight centered.
Above the cushy midsole resides a plush and secure upper that helps the foot make the most of the supportive ride.
3) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
The GTS 19 and 20 were a marked departure from the Adrenaline series. The 19 traded the medial post for a set of raised midsole ‘Guiderails’. This transformed the Adrenaline GTS from a traditional ‘motion control’ shoe to a neutral kind.
That’s true for the GTS 21 as well. The new Adrenaline GTS almost feels like a Ghost 13, but with a serving of under-arch support. The GTS 21 has a firmer ‘Guiderail’ (raised sidewalls) on the arch side, whereas the outer – and softer – Guiderail is made of the same material as the midsole.
Regardless, the Adrenaline is a cushioned and supportive running shoe that works for most use cases.
The softer ride makes it suitable for daily runs and longer distances while offering adequate stability. The upper locks the foot down in upholstered comfort and a true-to-size fit.
4) New Balance Fresh Foam 860V11
The 11th version of the 860 gets a Fresh Foam update, thus making the ride softer than the V10. That’s not the only change; even the firmer medial post has shrunk in size to tone down the motion-control aspect.
Most stability running shoes are transitioning over to the ‘supportive neutral’ side, and the 860V11’s evolution follows a similar path. While the midsole continues to deliver ample stability for daily runs, it’s a marked change from its former medially posted self.
The newer upper designs from New Balance have been a hit or miss, and this comment pertains specifically to the heel design. The 860V11’s flared heel design will divide opinions.
5) Saucony Guide 14
The Saucony Guide ISO 2 was the final Guide version to feature a medial post; the Guide 13 got rid of it last year. In its place, Saucony deployed the plastic stabilizer that was first seen on the Liberty ISO.
Though the Guide 14 has a brand-new midsole and outsole, it has a near-identical stabilizer that also layers with the outsole under the midfoot area. When combined with the firm EVA-blend (Pwrrun) midsole, the Guide delivers a ride character that’s best described as supportive neutral.
There’s no bias in the cushioning, and foam layers of the insole and Topsole add the first layer of underfoot comfort. Several design improvements also take place on the new upper to make it softer and slightly roomier than the Guide 13.
On a side note, if you prefer a stability Saucony shoe with a medial post, we recommend the Omni 19.
6) New Balance Fresh Foam Vongo V4
Which stability shoe features a 4 mm offset, no medial post, lots of cushioning, and a split outsole? It’s the New Balance Vongo V4!
Instead of a medial post, the Vongo has a raised inner midsole with filled-up hexagonal patterns for support. The groove running down the outsole centers the weight for better straight-line tracking.
The Vongo’s true-to-size upper has a sock-like bootie upper and knit collar panel for interior comfort. An asymmetrical internal heel counter is taller on the medial side than the lateral side for support.
Stability shoes – Maximum support:
1) Brooks Beast 20
The 2020-22 Brooks Beast is, uh, a different beast.
This is the first time in the Brooks Beast’s history that its multi-density wedge is missing in action. Now the Beast 20 feels a lot like the Transcend – a model that existed until recently. It’s since been replaced with the Glycerin GTS 19.
So what is the difference between the two models? Good point.
The Beast has a more cushioned ride than the Transcend. It’s also more stable, and it’s easy to see why. The Beast 20’s midsole (and outsole) footprint is wider.
That translates into more foam – and better stability – under the foot. The simpler design also makes the Beast 20 an ounce lighter than the 18.
The engineered mesh is spacious and fits plush towards the rear – courtesy of the padded heel and tongue lining. The shoe is also available in a choice of 2E (wide) and 4E (extra-wide).
2) Brooks Addiction 14
If you miss the Brooks Beast 18 and its firmer midsole wedge, then consider the Addiction 14 as an alternative. It isn’t far-fetched to assume that Brooks intended the Addiction to indirectly replace the older Beast.
we say that because the Addiction 14 has a lot of the older-generation Beast in it. There’s a visually prominent – and sizeable – medial post, along with a broad midsole that blends cushioning with stability. Even the full-coverage outsole has a wide footprint that resembles the Beast 18.
The spacious upper is also Beast-like. The secure heel is generously provisioned with foam, and the engineered mesh forefoot has plenty of splay room. The obligatory smattering of sizing widths is optional as well.
3) Brooks Glycerin GTS 19
This shoe is the reason why the Transcend 7 no longer exists. The Glycerin GTS 19 (Go-To-Shoe) is to Glycerin 19 is what the Adrenaline GTS 21 to the Ghost 13 – a (more) supportive version of Brooks’s plush neutral trainer.
In the Glycerin GTS 19’s case, the midsole doesn’t have a medial post but relies on raised sidewalls to deliver a higher level of support. Brooks calls them ‘Guiderails’, and they were first seen on the 2014 Brooks Transcend.
Nearly seven years ago, we remarked that the 2014 Transcend was a ‘super Glycerin’. Guess what; the Transcend is now succeeded by the Glycerin GTS 19. The latter is the same shoe as the regular Glycerin, except that the (higher) midsole walls provide a greater cupping action around the foot.
As a result, there’s better under-arch support. The rest of the shoe is similar to the standard Glycerin 19; a thick chunk of foam delivers a smooth cushioning, and the plush upper is smooth on the inside.
The ride character is neutral as it gets, so the transitions and weight-loading feel very stable from the heel to forefoot.
Stability shoes – lightweight support:
1) Asics Gel-DS Trainer 26
Our favorite lightweight stability trainer was completely redone in 2019, and the DS-Trainer 26 carries forward most of the good stuff to 2021.
We loved the DST-24 and 25’s comfortable upper, and the DS-Trainer 26 is more of the same.
The upper fits snug but extremely smooth on the inside. The knit mesh exterior has a soft hand feel and limits any superfluous layering. Consequently, the upper has a streamlined aesthetic that gels well with the speedy character of the shoe.
The core persona of the DST stays unchanged – it is an excellent trainer for fast training runs. The medial post doesn’t get in the way of the speed-focused ride. Asics has done a great job of integrating the firmer-density wedge; it is barely noticeable.
The firm cushioning of the Flytefoam midsole helps build the pace during runs. A full-coverage outsole grips the road very well.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the DST 26 (and the 24 and 25) no longer have the aggressive dual-stencil lugs that were a part of the older outsoles.
Honestly, it’s a bit of a loss, but the traction is still excellent.
2) New Balance 1500 V6
The 1500V6 has been reworked from the ground-up, but these changes complement, rather than alter the 1500’s functionality. The medial post still exists, but is now spread longer and lower under the arch.
The new Revlite foam offers supportive and speed-friendly cushioning; the reconfigured outsole geometry increases ground contact for improved traction and transitions.
The interiors of the new knit upper have a secure and seamless fit quality in addition to a performance-oriented heel grip.
3) Saucony Fastwitch 9
The Fastwitch is a breathable road racer with a tiny medial wedge for support. If the idea of a 4 mm drop racer with mild stability features sounds appealing, then the Fastwitch 9 may be worth stepping into.
The Fastwitch goes through a design clean-up for its 9th edition. The result is, ahem, a shoe that is closer to the New Balance 1500V6 than it is to the Fastwitch 8. So there you have it – another great road-racer with a tiny medial post.
The Fastwitch 9 bumps its retail price up by $10 to $100, but continues to be decent value for money.