Marathoner Caitlin Schwager reviews the Cadillac of shoes for flat feet and severe overpronators.
RUNNING SHOE: Brooks Women’s Ariel 12
Category: Motion Control
Best for: Road, Track, Running, Walking, Training, Racing
Weight: 12.3 oz
Heel-to-toe drop: 12 mm
By Caitlin Schwager, Greater Boston Running Company
The Brooks Ariel 12 is at the top of the market for high cushioned motion control shoes. If a traditional stability shoe does not provide enough support for your low arches/flat feet or pain caused by severe overpronation, the motion control category of shoes may be your answer.
The Ariel has the highest level of medial arch support of all the Brooks models. Although this is a women’s model, the men’s equivalent (Brooks Beast) serves the same mission. The premium cushioning boasts the highest level of shock absorption which means an easier ride for your joints. The Segmented Crash Pad lends flexibility, comfort, and ease of movement.
If you suffer from painful injuries and conditions stemming from flat feet and severe overpronation, your chariot has arrived. Many have turned to the unmatched support and cushion of the Ariel to help heal from conditions like plantar fasciitis and chronic shin splints. This shoe is a great choice for those who are on their feet all day. The fit of the shoe is generous and can easily accommodate a custom or off the shelf orthotic.
While my own go-to shoe is a stability model, my feet are usually tired at the end of a long day on my feet in the running store. For fun, I put on a pair of Ariels at 5 p.m. one day and they felt great! The first sensation I noticed was that as I took a step, my foot landed in a soft cushion and I could feel the fluidity of the full length DNA cushioning shifting to adjust to my movements. Below that, I could feel a solid, undoubtedly stable platform.
My feet felt protected from any uneven surface I was walking on and almost felt cocooned by support and cushion. I was surprised that despite all that, the shoe maintains a surprising degree of flexibility so I never felt like I was walking around with big heavy blocks on my feet.
Motion control shoes often get a bad wrap for being heavy and bulky-looking. And to be perfectly honest, it’s true. A motion control shoe is a lot more shoe than most of us are used to and it has to be in order to provide that level of support. Brooks took this into account and designed the Ariel specifically for women and the current model has more feminine design elements than past models.
Looking down at my feet, the Ariel looks like an average running shoe – white with hints of aqua and silver. Even from the side view, most people probably wouldn’t recognize the shoe as a motion control shoe. But as much as they try, the hefty medial post in the instep cannot be hidden. It does look clunky, but really, how often are people looking at your instep? The extra bulk should be worth the superior support and cushion in exchange.
Motion control shoes are not for everyone. Because of the additional weight and bulk required to provide the highest levels of support and cushion, they are heavier to run in and a lot of people may not enjoy that sensation.
Brooks seems like they’re doing everything they possibly can to combat that feeling with the existing technologies. Now that I’ve tried it on my own tired feet, I believe more than ever that if you can sacrifice a bit of style and sleekness, the supreme comfort and support may be absolutely worth it for those long days on your feet.
And if you’re determined to run despite chronic pain from plantar fasciitis and shin splints, the Ariel may be your answer: supportive enough to protect you, but flexible enough to truly run.