Neutral cushioned running shoes are usually ideal if you have high arches that cause you to underpronate, rolling on to the outside edges of your feet. These shoes are typically lighter and less rigid than motion-control or stability shoes, and encourage the foot to pronate naturally. Many neutral cushioned running shoes are also recommended for runners with big builds who have normal to high arches.
The Brooks Ghost line, to which our best-reviewed neutral-cushioning running shoe the Ghost 5 (Est. $110) belongs, stands out for its light weight and durability. It has won awards from Runner's World for three years straight and also draws praise from Canadian Running. Like most Brooks running shoes, the newest entry in this line, the Ghost 5, runs a half-size small, but as long as you get the sizing right reviewers say they're a great fit.
The Ghost 5 combines plenty of high-arch cushioning support, with a good feel of the road. Most reviewers say the soft heel strike and firmer forefoot help you feel fast. It's worth noting that the Ghost 5's roughly 11 mm heel-toe offset encourages a heel strike, and Runner's World warns that forefoot and midfoot strikers may find it to be a little jarring.
The Asics Gel Nimbus 14 (Est. $135) , the Ghost 5's closest competitor, also has a sterling record for high-arch cushioning. However, even loyal fans are skeptical of the latest version's redesigned fit. Runner's World U.K. says it fits "brilliantly around the heel and Achilles," but we found lots of user complaints that the redesigned shoe runs a little narrow and feels tight, or rubs across the forefoot. The arch support has been redesigned, too, and some think it's too big. It now has a 10 mm heel-to-toe offset and draws expert praise for encouraging a smooth heel-to-toe transition. The Nimbus 14 weighs 11.1 ounces for a men's pair and 9.1 ounces for a women's pair.
Some conventional running shoes have so much padding it's hard to feel what you're running on. Minimalist shoes usually go to the opposite extreme, sacrificing cushioning and comfort in the name of responsiveness, cultivating a midfoot or forefoot strike. Experts say the New Balance 890v2 (Est. $100) bridges the gap between these two extremes nicely, with a comfortable level of cushioning that doesn't keep you from feeling what's going on beneath your feet.
The New Balance 890v2 sports an 8 mm drop from heel to toe and weighs just 9.2 ounces for a men's pair or 7.9 ounces for a women's pair. The trade-off, however, is relatively less cushioning -- the shoes aren't soft enough for everybody -- and a few durability concerns.
Previous versions of another well-cushioned shoe, the Saucony Triumph, received praise for their high responsiveness along with criticism for being too stiff for light runners. Heavier runners, however, love them. In an attempt to fix these issues, the newest shoe in this line, the Triumph 10 (Est. $130) , has deeper flex grooves in the forefoot for extra flexibility and an 8 mm drop to encourage a natural stride. Lighter runners say it now provides a springy, responsive ride, and forefoot strikers like the extra cushioning around the front of the foot. However, reviews concerning the redesigned fit are mixed; some find the heels a little loose. Although the jury's still out on this model's long-term durability, its predecessor drew some concern that the soles wear out too quickly.