Posted by RunUnited on Apr 12th 2023

When beginners start searching for running shoes, most get stricken with how many types are there. Yep, the industry has expanded vastly over the last several decades: you'll find minimalist and maximalist shoes, shoes for road, trail, and off-trail, stability shoes, barefoot running shoes, and many, many more. Even the shoes within a single category may differ greatly. So, what's best for you?

In this guide, we'll discuss all aspects of choosing the right road runners to avoid injuries and discomfort and share our top picks for 2023 in the second part. Enjoy reading!

How Much Cushioning Do You Need

When it comes to running on pavement, cushioning is one of the most important factors to consider. Think about it: when you run on a soft surface like a grassy field, your feet sink into the ground slightly, which reduces the impact of landing. But when you're running on pavement, there's no give. It means that every time your foot hits the ground, you're absorbing the full force of the impact. And over time, this can take a toll on your body.

That's why having the right amount of cushioning in your road running shoes is so important. The cushioning helps to absorb some of the impact, which reduces the strain on your feet and joints. It can help prevent pain, discomfort, and injuries and ensure you can run comfortably longer.

Of course, everyone's needs are different when it comes to cushioning. Some runners prefer a lot of cushioning, while others like a firmer feel. It all depends on your personal preferences and running style.

Now, the pavement material directly influences the optimal amount of cushioning. Concrete is the hardest surface to run on, so you need more cushioning. On the other hand, asphalt and track are softer surfaces that offer more give. So you may opt for less cushioning. In fact, some runners prefer a firmer feel when running on asphalt or track for a little more stability.

The distance also dictates how much cushioning you need. Generally, long-distance runners will opt for shoes featuring more absorbing material.

If you're not a fan of the plush feel cushioned shoes give, you can choose minimalist or barefoot running shoes, but be mindful that you need to develop a forefoot strike that doesn't generate an impact transient force.

Arch Support: Pronation & Types of Supportive Shoes

Pronation is another crucial factor to consider because the level of support you need in your shoes will depend on your pronation type.

There are three types of pronation:

  • Neutral pronation is when your foot rolls inward slightly but not too much.
  • Overpronation is when your foot rolls inward too much.
  • Supination is when your foot rolls outward instead of inward, putting extra pressure on the outer edge of your foot.

It's important to know that overpronation and supination are not necessarily medical conditions. However, you mustn't ignore them as well. So you should choose shoes with the right support: motion control, stability, or neutral.

Motion Control Shoes are designed for moderate to severe overpronators with flat feet or low arches. They are typically the heaviest type of running shoe, but they provide the most support. Features of motion-control shoes include a rigid design, a firm heel counter, and a pronounced medial post to help keep the foot stable and prevent it from rolling too far inward.

Stability Shoes are built for mild to moderate overpronators and are typically lighter in weight and less rigid than motion-control shoes but still provide a good level of support.

Neutral Shoes are designed for mild overpronators and supinators and offer no medial support.

If you're not a neutral pronator, arch-support running shoes are a must since they prevent discomfort, pain, and injuries.

Heel Drop: Heel Strike vs. Midfoot & Forefoot Strike

Heel drop refers to the difference in height between the heel and forefoot of the shoe.

Heel drop can have a big impact on your running stride. A high heel drop encourages a heel strike, meaning that your heel hits the ground first, which isn't generally considered the most efficient in terms of shock management. A high offset also transfers some strain from the lower leg toward the knee. On the other hand, a lower heel drop is better for midfoot and forefoot strikers. It reduces the impact on your lower leg but shifts the load to the calf and the Achilles.

Though many professional runners are midfoot strikers, it doesn't mean you should be one too. If you're a natural heel striker and don't have any problems with your knees, that's great. Just pick high-drop shoes for increased impact absorption. If you're a midfoot striker, a lower drop may work better for you.

Best Road Running Shoes for Concrete & Asphalt

To narrow down options for you, we've prepared the top 5 road running shoes for 2023. Here are they.

ON FOOTWEAR Cloudsurfer

The shoe midsole is optimized for soft landings and seamless weight transfer from heel to toe. It features super lightweight foam and the CloudTec Phase technology that collapses in a domino sequence.


  • Weight: 8.6 oz
  • Cushioning: Plush
  • Heel Drop: 10mm

BROOKS Glycerin 20

The Glycerin 20 features super soft cushioning with nitrogen infusion allowing the shoe to be lightweight, responsive, and durable. For a smoother and easier transition, these Brooks have soles with a wider platform.


  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Cushioning: Most Cushion
  • Heel Drop: 10mm

HOKA Clifton 9

These road runners feature a good amount of cushioning while remaining responsive and lightweight and an early-state meta-rocker sole for smoother heel-to-toe transitions.


  • Weight: 8.7 oz
  • Cushioning: Plush but responsive
  • Heel drop: 5mm

SAUCONY Cohesion 16

These budget shoes feature an EVA foam outsole that absorbs a great amount of impact and reduces pressure.


  • Weight: 9.1 oz
  • Cushioning: Plush
  • Heel drop: 12mm

ALTRA Paradigm 6

Best for running on concrete, the shoe features a great amount of responsive cushioning and a high stack height (30mm). Also, they will be ideal for overpronators due to the GuardRail tech that provides extra support and stabilizes the gait.


  • Weight: 10.8 oz
  • Cushioning: Max
  • Heel drop: 0mm


What are the best running shoes for concrete / best running shoes for asphalt?

Concrete is harder than asphalt, so shoes for running on concrete should feature more cushioning, especially if you’re a heel striker. Running shoes for asphalt may have less cushioning if you want more stability and responsiveness.

Should I run barefoot on road?

Running barefoot on roads is not recommended as it can increase your risk of injury due to the shock from landing on hard surfaces. But a forefoot strike can combat this issue.

Are flat running shoes better for road?

Flat running shoes are not necessarily better for road running, as having too little cushioning can lead to a higher risk of injury.