Sometimes, the best ideas are born out of the worst ideas. The idea of “barefoot” or “minimalist” running, at least on paper, seems like a good one. The thought is that wearing shoes that provide little cushion and no motion control allows the foot to work naturally and therefore prevent injuries. However, there is no science to substantiate that claim and Vibram is paying a big cost. As a result, the trend of barefoot running has swung in the exact opposite direction in the form of “maximal cushioning” has arrived, as this article from June 9 discusses.
Running is a great form of exercise, but it also hurts. The feet and knees in particular take a tremendous pounding over time. Therefore, it makes sense that people would want a cushier feel in their shoes. These maximal cushioning shoes offer just that.
Nike, Brooks and New Balance are just three of the companies making forays into these over-sized shoes. They do not look pretty to be sure, but they offer 30% more cushioning than traditional shoes. Even better, the extra cushioning does not come at the cost of additional weight thanks to new lightweight foam. They are also the exact opposite of the minimalist shoes that seemed all the rage over the last few years.
A good sign for the future of these shoes comes from ultra-marathon runners. Outside Magazine states that a third of the 275 finishers of the July 2013 Utah Speedgoat 50K wore Hokas, were the first company to start marketing these shoes. If the shoes work for ultra-marathoners, they should work for 10-20 mile per week runner as well.