At a fundamental level, the current assortment of running shoes can be divided into two halves – one with a firmer medial post, and another without it. This categorization is commonly known and marketed as ‘stability’ (with a medial post) and ‘neutral’ (without a medial post).
But when you wade through the vast selection of stability shoes, you soon realize that you cannot paint every model with the same brush. Some stability shoes have a small medial wedge while others have a gigantic post that extends from the heel to the forefoot. And these days, the number of models without a wedge has seen a steady rise.
Then there are countless other variables such as the difference in the shoe weight, midsole softness, or 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 hardness that comes from the medial post.
If you’re keeping up with recent running shoe releases, you must have noticed that the medial posts are headed towards the door. Newer stability shoes have evolved to edit the firmer wedge in its entirety. ‘Supportive-neutral’ is the term Solereview uses to describe them.
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 ‘over-pronators’ 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.
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 reason enough to buy them. In the same vein, not all stability shoes are the same, so a subjective decision-making process will apply.
We can help make your search less arduous by sorting stability running shoes into three different sub-categories.
The first category is 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, you don’t feel it at all. Familiar models like the Adrenaline have been reintroduced without the medial post.
The Asics Kayano 26 did not make the cut in the previous edition of this guide, and it stays home for 2020 as well. In our view, the Kayano’s softer rearfoot makes the ride bias a little pronounced, and its motion control character is too 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 over-sized medial post, an ultra-wide outsole footprint, and a high shoe weight are commonly seen on such shoes. Even here, models like the Brooks Beast have let go of the firmer wedge.
Lastly, there are lightweight trainers with mild stability treatment. These shoes are fast trainers, but with a difference – the midsoles are fitted with a tiny medial-post.
Our recommended list of running shoes is arranged by stability sub-categories:
Daily stability trainers – mild support
1) Asics GT-2000 8
We recently reviewed the GT-2000 8, and we praised the extent of improvements on the 2020 update. And all of those tweaks happen without upsetting the GT’s design fundamentals.
Like the models before it, the GT-2000 8’s medial post is intact – together with a midfoot shank. While this is traditional as it gets, the design updates on the 2K8 result in a firm forefoot and a relatively softer rearfoot.
Good things happen to the redesigned upper too. The double-layered mesh is softer, and features such as the welded logos and fused overlays serve both form and function. The fit runs true to size, and there are multiple widths available.
2) Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
The 19th version of the Brooks Adrenaline GTS swapped the medial post with a set of ‘Guiderails’ – Brooks lingo for raised midsole sidewalls. The underlying premise was to create a supportive running shoe that didn’t feel like an old-school stability shoe.
And it works.
The new GTS 20 is based on the same form factor as the 19. Raised rims on either side of the foot provide a supportive cupping action. Underneath, the softer midsole has the comfort required for higher mileages.
The engineered mesh upper is plush around the collar and tongue, and has a smooth and secure fit.
Also see: The Brooks Ravenna 11 – a scaled-down Adrenaline of sorts.
3) Mizuno Wave Inspire 16
If you’re worn the Inspire 13, 14, 15, then stepping into the Inspire 16 is a classic case of déjà vu.
The 16 has a similar set of materials and features that were the ingredients of the past models. For example, the molded TPE ‘Wave’ plate works together with the foam midsole to produce a cushioned yet highly stable ride. If you’re looking for a medial post, you won’t find it here – the Wave plate does all the heavy lifting. It always has.
There’s plenty of room inside the upper without any sloppiness. The forefoot midsole has a wide base that helps increase the interior room and stability.
Also see: The Mizuno Wave Rider 23.
4) New Balance 860V10
The tonal color treatment of the 860V10’s medial post blends it into the midsole – visually, we mean.
But fear not; the inner midsole does have a firmer foam wedge for stability. The firm midsole does not have the softness of the 880, but that’s the point though – the firmness makes the ride supportive without an excessive cushioning bias.
The engineered mesh upper gets the now-in-vogue molded heel design. Runners upgrading from the 860V9 will notice the lower amount of foam padding in the collar, and the slightly shorter sizing – the inwards curving heel causes the foot to be re-positioned forward.
5) Nike Zoom Structure 22
The Structure 22 has a very firm ride quality with a snappy forefoot. The rear midsole is made of firm dual-density foam and the front has a Zoom Air unit that makes the toe-offs responsive.
The upper fits smooth and holds the foot well – thanks to Flywire and the sleeve based construction.
We have a feeling that this is the end of the road for the Structure series, so hoard a few pairs while you can.
6) Saucony Guide 13
Another medially-posted running shoe has been archived. And we’re not talking about the Guide 13, but its predecessor – the Guide ISO 2.
Till last year, Saucony’s popular stability trainer came with a traditional firmer wedge. In 2020, that’s no longer the case.
The Guide 13 borrows the plastic stabilizer from the Liberty ISO 2 and attaches it to the inner midsole. The cushioning is firm, so here we are – the Guide is a supportive neutral shoe now.
There’s no ISOFIT on the upper either. The new upper uses a cleaner design sans the midfoot strapping system. What you have here is a comfortable and smooth fitting upper that does a fairly good job at keeping the foot locked down.
If you do need a stability Saucony shoe with a medial post, we recommend the Omni ISO 2.
7) 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 center of the outsole helps center the weight to give the Vongo a very directional feel.
The Vongo’s true-to-size upper has a sock-like bootie upper and a knit collar panel for increased 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 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.
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 collar and tongue. The shoe is also available in a choice of 2E (wide) and 4E (extra-wide).
2) Brooks Addiction 14
If you’re already missing the Brooks Beast 18 and its firmer midsole wedge, then consider the Addiction 14. It isn’t far-fetched to think that Brooks intended the Addiction to indirectly replace the older Beast.
Because when you look at the Addiction 14, it has a lot of the previous Beast in it. There’s a visually prominent – and sizeable – medial post, along with a broad midsole that offers both cushioning and stability. Even the full-coverage outsole has a wide footprint similar to the big B.
Also, the spacious upper is Beast-like. The secure-fitting heel is generously quilted with foam, and the engineered mesh forefoot has plenty of splay room. And of course, the obligatory smattering of sizing widths is available too.
3) Brooks Transcend 7
The Brooks Transcend is a neglected hero of the anti-medial post revolution. Back in 2014, it was the first running shoe to pitch the idea of a supportive-neutral. It swapped the medial post for a set of raised ‘Guiderails’, and the stability running shoe world hasn’t been the same since.
Be it the Brooks Beast, Adrenaline, or even competing brands, many have ditched the ‘motion-control’ design. So whatever the Transcend’s original intent, it has managed to nudge the running shoe industry into a different path. Even Nike has a similar concept now, so that’s saying something.
Though the Transcend 7 isn’t the polarizing shoe the T1 was, it accomplishes a few things with aplomb. Take, for instance, the single-density DNA Loft foam midsole that delivers lots of high-volume cushioning. Or the supportive ride character that is made possible by the medium-soft midsole and the raised ‘Guiderails.’
At just below 11-ounces, the T-7 isn’t the epitome of lightness. But hey, it’s not bad either. This is a daily trainer for those easy runs where the ride comfort and support take precedence.
The upper is very Brooks-ey. Meaning that the interiors are smooth and soft along with a true-to-size fit profile. Still no widths though.
4) Saucony Redeemer ISO 2
The Saucony Redeemer ISO 2 delivers maximum stability in a 12-ounce package. The wide outsole and midsole provide a planted and cushioned ride experience. An Everun ‘Topsole’ above the midsole creates a thin, responsive layer.
The ISOFIT upper has a comfortable interior and an external support frame for the heel. Also available in a wide version.
Stability shoes – Lightweight support:
1) Asics Gel-DS Trainer 25
Our lightweight stability favorite was completely refreshed last year, and the DS-Trainer 25 carries forward most of the niceties.
We loved the DST-24’s new upper, and the V-25 is more of the same. The upper fits snug but extremely smooth. The knit design has a soft hand feel, and keeps the superfluous layering to a bare minimum.
The core persona of the DST is unchanged – it is an excellent trainer for fast training runs. The fact that the midsole has a medial-post doesn’t get in the way of the shoe’s speed manners. Asics has done a great job of integrating the firmer density section into the midsole; it is barely noticeable.
The firm cushioning of the Flytefoam midsole helps build pace during runs. A full-coverage outsole grips the road very well. However, you should know that both the DST 25 (and the 24) no longer come with the aggressive dual-stencil outsole lugs. Honestly, it’s a bit of a loss, but the traction is still very good.
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 is still there but 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 entices you, then the Fastwitch 9 is the way to go.
The Fastwitch goes through a design clean-up for its 9th edition. The result is, ahem, a shoe which is closer to the New Balance 1500V5 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 it is still good value for money.