Consumers Say “No More” to Motion Control Running Shoes

Wall of running shoes

June 2009 retail figures* are showing that:

‘Motion Control’ shoe sales fell 13%, ‘Stability’ shoe sales fell 2%,

while ‘Neutral’ cushioned running shoe sales increased by 16%.

I think this is much more than seasonal trend, it’s proof that consumers and runners alike are searching for shoes that are ‘less‘ rather than ‘more’.

In a related post on Time, Christopher McDougall shares that not a single running shoe company has reached out to him since his book, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen dropped. Are you listening shoe companies?

* Source

Tags: , , , , ,


An instigator and barefoot runner since 2002.

20 Responses to “Consumers Say “No More” to Motion Control Running Shoes”

  1. August 23, 2009 at 1:07 pm #

    That wall reminds me of the Steve Martin skit, “Cruel Shoes.”

  2. August 25, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    I think you’re right, it’s more than a fad. More and more folks are talking about and trying minimal shoes. I am quite dissapointed, though, that so many of them seem to be going for the Nike Frees. The shoes probably won’t help with stride nor reduce injuries. I think once more minimal running shoe options hit the market – like Vivo Barefoot’s new shoe this Fall – people will give them a try.

  3. Patrick
    August 29, 2009 at 10:53 pm #

    I had bought Nike Free 5.0 V4 to run on the road during summer when the pavement can cause 3rd degree burns within 30 seconds. I am quite satisfied with them. I had tried the vibrams kso, and my feet just blistered from the friction at every possible place. Plus after a few minutes the heat from the pavement still got through and burned my feet. I haven’t had any injuries since running in frees besides some minor blisters at first. I don’t think they’ll help improve people’s stride since they’re so cushy in the heal area, but I have decent form anyway. I just ran in the Madison mini marathon and noticed a lot of Nike’s lunar series. Those scare me.

  4. Nick
    September 12, 2009 at 10:16 am #

    I think the British off-road shoe company, inov-8 are listening. They produce very minimal fell-shoes and trail shoes. Okay some of their models have a fair bit of cushioning, but all of their range are neutral, and very low to the ground. The X-talons 212 (212 is the weight in grams for a size 8) are a fantastic shoe, and running with them without a footbed is a minimalist experience.

    Furthermore, if you check out the website, there is a copy of B2R signed by CM, congratulating them on being “on to the naked truth” . Rumour has it that they are working on a minimal barefoot shoe to rival the VFF…

  5. Unshod Ashish
    September 13, 2009 at 7:13 pm #

    Instead of paying hundreds of dollars to Nike, Vivo, Inov8, Vibram, etc. for their latest “technology,” why don’t y’all do like the book says and run barefoot?

  6. Alex
    September 23, 2009 at 8:22 pm #

    Because there’s a lot of gunk on the roads that you don’t want to be stepping into which is why I believe most people would prefer to have at least something on their feet.

  7. Stuart McLean
    September 25, 2009 at 8:18 am #

    Does anyone have any experience with END YMMV or other shoes by END? How about Adizero? I’ve been running for years, but am trying to improve my form (I’ve been a heel -striker) and transition to barefoot (or at least minimal shoe) running. I’m running a half-marathon in a month and have run for the past week in a pair of old-school Onitsuka Tiger remakes with virtually nothing but a flat slab of rubber and enough nylon to hold it to my feet. I’m a little leary of making this transition completely in only one month, so I’m looking for a transitional shoe. I’m 50 years old, 6’2″ and weigh around 195. Any advice would be welcome!


  8. September 25, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    @Stuart : END footwear is no more. They were purchased and now dissolved. Friend of mine is training for the 2016 Olympics and runs in the AdiZero racers. As most flats they’re too tight in the toebox so he stretches them out. Best suggestion is include short (very short) barefoot runs into your training. Weave your runs with minimal shoes such as the Tigers. There’s no substitution for re-training your body to rediscover natural midfoot landing but going naked from the ankle down. Hope that helps. Happy barefoot trails, David. /// Follow Skora’s progress

  9. Stuart McLean
    September 25, 2009 at 6:50 pm #

    Thank you, David! I ran 8 miles in the Tigers today. My calves are tight and my feet are still getting used to this. I’ll start doing a little barefoot running everyday. Between now and October 25 when I’m running a half marathon, do you think I need anything more substantial than the Tiger flats? I’d prefer to just stay with them and avoid my TIger Gel Kayano 15s from now on.

    Thanks again,

  10. September 26, 2009 at 5:02 am #

    @Stuart : Tight calves are completely normal while transitioning from padded shoes with a heel lift. You’re activating muscles that have been asleep. Take your time with increased mileage – listen to your body and don’t push it too hard. Muscles and ligaments will adjust and strengthen, within less than a month you may not have enough time and miles under your soles to comfortably run 13 miles just yet. Be patience and have fun. Cheers! David

  11. October 7, 2009 at 9:49 am #

    @Stuart: If you have read the book Born to Run you’ll have to answer to why your calves are sore. The biggest advancement in human evolution that made us bred to be runners was the use of an Achilles Tendon. The Achilles Tendon is the most underused running advantage in the human species. Ever since we have been wearing running shoes with raised heel cushioniing we have handcapped our ability to use the rubber band reaction of our Achilles Tendons. Run barefoot and strengthen your Achilles Tendon, and your stride will be more powerful.

  12. BF Newbie
    November 27, 2009 at 4:57 am #

    I am reading in this thread an awful lot about special minimal running shoes. Do like I did, go to any shoe store and purchase a pair of wet shoes for 10 bucks (“Hydrosox” by Cudas at Omega Sports is the one I chose). Give them a try. You will feet and your wallet and your conscience will thank you.


  13. December 8, 2009 at 11:09 am #

    Hi all. As a company dedicated to allowing natural foot motion when shoes are required (wintersports, some hiking, motocross, cycling, etc.), we consistently see the problems created by motion control and stability shoes. The scary part is that many consumers are unwittingly buying these shoes at the big box stores. We had a lady come in whose natural biomechanics placed a lot of lateral stress on her foot and lower leg. She couldn’t figure out why she was having so much pain running…turns out she’d bought a pair of *outwardly canted* running shoes, which exaggerated her problems to the point of agony! We are very much hoping that the type of awareness you’re spreading here will help prevent this problem from spreading…god forbid this “technology” moves into other sports!

  14. ejdisler
    May 12, 2010 at 7:08 pm #

    I have been running barefoot for two years now and still have to run in shoes now and then. My experience is that I would rather have a decent pair of motion control shoes which provide a fairly rigid platform. I have found that cheap shoes cause feet to distort in ways that can cause all kinds of problems in the arch of the foot. So I guess in my experience,you should still have a good pair of running shoes around when you might need them.

  15. Gilad
    July 24, 2010 at 11:04 pm #

    I just wanted to start run barefoot. I bought the Five Fingers shoe,
    is this the same as barefoot.

    Thank You

  16. September 26, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    These shoes are all very good running shoes ,i have wear asics ,nike before.asics gel light and breathable,you will like it as me.

  17. Limos NY
    November 12, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    This post really helped my family and I out a lot. Thanks for the info because you made our decision making process much easier.

  18. Steve
    November 26, 2010 at 11:43 am #

    I have sold running shoes to people for years and find this whole minimalist hysteria a complete scam. One guy writes a book, unfortunatley people only remember one small portion of the book about footwear, and 30 years and millions of dollars in footwear research are obsolete. NO! I have always said the “Best shoe is the one that works for you.” For a few people it maybe barefoot or very minimalist footwear. For most others it’s property fit, high quality running footwear that meets their biomechanics, foot type, mileage, injury history, and training goals. I read a story about a women a few years ago that successfully ran marathons in Crocs. Why aren’t we all wearing Crocs? Forget the hype! The current running footwear is the best it has ever been, you just need to find your “fit.” I have run in the “Devils Shoes” for years and train for distances up 100 mile mountain trail ultras. My nearly efficient foot strike has come from years of experience and development, not becasue some minimist shoe makes me run “right” becasue if Idon’t it will hurt.

  19. December 19, 2010 at 5:43 pm #

    I totally agree Steve, Good technique, mindful training and working to distance over time is key. Need i say some common sense :)

  20. Erin
    December 29, 2010 at 12:22 pm #

    I have been researching Nike Free shoes lately. Does anyone else have a review for me? Thanks.

Leave a Reply