Sep 062013
 

20130822-153339.jpgEver since Hoka One One was launched a few years ago it has divided runners opinions – depending on who you speak to its either a revolutionary shoe or a fad that will disappear with time.

Since they were launched right at the height of the minimalist shoe trend they stood out amongst the zero drop minimal cushioning alternatives and if you weren’t singing Hokas praises then you were probably firmly in the side against them.

Hoka lovers claim the shoe allows them to fly downhill and run further without muscle soreness.

The detractors claim the massive cushion will decrease the proprioreceptive feedback your feet give your brain, making you a less efficient runner. They will increase ground contact time which will slow you down and the height of the shoe would increase instability making them a poor choice for trails.

Fast forward a few years later and the biggest trend in running shoes for 2014 is for light weight maximally cushioned shoes – very similar to the Hokas.

So why the swing towards maximalist cushioned shoes?

Are Hokas actually onto something?

Rather than giving you another shoe review I wanted to look at the Hokas from a more scientific viewpoint and see if there is any evidence or good reasoning for the claims for and against Hokas.

Before I go any further I’ll let you know I am a fan of Hokas, I’ve worn the Bondi B’s , Stinson Evo and have recently been testing the Stinson Evo Tarmac. I was initially very sceptical of Hokas but decided I needed to try them before criticising them and I haven’t run in anything since. The Hokas in the photos (Stinson Evo Tarmac) have done over 1000ks in them, approx 60% of that on road, 40% on trails. The discussion below applies to both the Bondi B’s and Stinson Evo (which I prefer) and may not apply to other models.

1. Hokas reduce leg fatigue
I have noticed the same as many Hoka wearers – my quads just dont get as sore as they used to no matter how hard I trash them.

This actually makes sense when you understand a bit about what happens when we run on different surfaces.

The brain moderates the tension of the leg muscles so that no matter what surface you are running on the impact loading rates for the legs are more or less constant. The brain does this by increasing the stiffness of your legs before landing on soft surfaces and decreasing the stiffness when landing on hard surfaces.

Think how much your knees bend when jumping and landing on concrete vs a trampoline.

When landing on a hard surface the greater range of movement of the knee means the leg muscles have to work eccentrically to control that range. Landing on a softer surface means the muscles work more isometrically to stiffen the leg before landing.

What does this have to do with sore quads and Hokas?

Eccentric muscular action of does far more damage to the muscles than isometric muscular action.

Compare running downhill to running uphill – far more damage is done to the legs running downhill due to the eccentric load on the muscles.

Hokas reduce the eccentric load on the quads.

Now I know of no specific study done on Hokas to confirm this but a study on “Increasing Running Step Rate Reduces Patellofemoral Joint Forces*” showed that showed that the more knee flexion during the stance phase of running the greater patellofemoral force. So if you reduce knee flexion during stance phase you reduce the loading force on the knee.

So whilst that doesnt exactly prove what I am arguing it shows that if knee flexion is reduced loading on the knee is reduced we know that running on softer surfaces reduces knee flexion.

2. Hokas reduce feel for the road or trail and therefore reduce running efficiency 
WIth a 30mm slab of foam under your foot you are definitely not going to feel the road as much as wearing less cushioned shoes. The question is does that matter?

The minimalist argument against Hokas is that the feet give a wide range of information to the brain about what is going on when we run and from this the brain can select the optimum muscle recruitment pattern to perform the task at hand – in this case running. On the road the task at hand is pretty simple as every step is the same but on the trail every step is different. So do Hokas reduce the information going from foot to brain and if so does that reduce performance?

There has been no research looking at the difference in running economy between running in a minimalist shoe or Hokas whilst running on trail (the technology doesnt exist for this to happen at the moment) so these are my thoughts.

The proprioreceptors in the foot sense a wide range of information including the rate of change of joint angle, muscle length and muscle tension. When running in heavily cushioned shoes like Hokas the proprioreceptors will still sense movement. If your foot hits a rock and starts to roll, then the proprioreceptors will still sense the change in muscle tension, length and joint angle and can still act on that information.

Ok you wont be able to feel every rock or tree root underneath your foot but is that such a bad thing?

The brain also anticipates what is going to happen based on previous experience. So for example if  the running surface changes from bitumen to sand the brain will anticipate what it needs to do before your foot even hits the ground.

Any reduction in proprioreception information from the feet by wearing heavily cushioned shoes may not impact running efficiency much at all.

3. Hokas are unstable on trails

20130822-153301.jpgRunning on technical trails requires good foot placement and a stable shoe that wont tip you over upon hitting the smallest rock. The higher the heel is relative to the forefoot (heel drop) the more unstable you are when you walk or run. A low drop heel is always better from a stability point of view for running on trails. Hokas have 4-5mm drop so is on the low end of spectrum compared to a traditional running shoe of 10-13mm.

What many people think is that running in Hokas is like running on stilts and whilst I admit it does take 1 or 2 runs to get used to the extra 10-15mm under your feet it is a very easy adaptation.

Stability is also dependant on the width of the shoe – the higher the shoe the wider it needs to be to compensate for the height. Hokas have increased the width of the bottom of the shoe to compensate for the extra height . I havent noticed any decrease in stability running in Hokas compared to a normal shoe.

My only reservation with the wide shoe is occasionally a narrow shoe would be more suitable for some sections of trails. This is a small trade off for me as the wider base is better suited to other sections.

4. Hokas are a heavy shoe
Despite the size of the shoe Hokas are a mid weight shoe. The are light for their size but not light compared to a more minimal shoe.

Studies have shown that the energy cost in wearing a heavier shoe (compared to barefoot) can be offset by the affect of cushioning. For example Tung et al reported that

” it appears that the positive effects of shoe cushioning counteracted the negative effects of added mass, resulting in a metabolic cost for shod running approximately equal to that of unshod running.” **

However the authors also said that there was considerable individual variation.

Does the greater cushioning of a hoka compensate for the heavier weight compared to a light weight minimal shoe? We dont know.

For me the longer I run the more cushioning I prefer so I’ll accept a slightly heavier shoe ( compared to a very minimalist shoe) when running ultras.

5. The extra cushioning reduces the elastic recoil available to your tendons
20130822-153415.jpgOne argument against maximally cushioned shoes is that it is harder to take advantage of the elastic energy available to the tendons and ligaments of the foot and ankle upon landing. This energy can be used to propel the body forward and reduce the overall energy cost in running.

For this energy to be absorbed the tendons and ligaments must be under tension which cant happen until the muscles attached to those tendons are under tension.

There is only a short time frame available for this energy to be absorbed and then returned to the leg. Spend too long on the ground and the energy will dissipate away.

The argument against maximally cushioned shoes is that the time taken to compress the shoe upon landing means a reduction in time to utilise the elastic energy.

But when you land on a soft surface the muscles are stiffer, already tense.

So in a normal shoe, there is less time needed to compress the shoe but more time needed for the muscles to stiffen (due to the greater range of movement) and in the Hokas there is more time needed to compress the shoe but the the muscles have a greater degree of stiffness so can transfer the energy to the tendons quicker.

The question is does this transfer happen quick enough in Hokas? We dont know but given that many runners make very minimal use of this elastic recoil anyway it may not matter either way. But for faster runners over shorter distances this may be an issue.

At what distance does the increased time needed to compress the shoe outweigh the benefits of increased muscular stiffness?

This will depend on the runner and I would guess it would be around 5-10k for the average runner and up to half marathon to marathon for elite runners. Any longer than that and I believe there would be no loss of running efficiency. (I’ll happily change my mind if I read any evidence suggesting otherwise)

Hoka also have a rockered profile in place to try and direct the flow of energy forward. Think of jumping on a trampoline – you just go up and down – obviously not effective for running. The rocker system helps roll the foot forward onto the midfoot to transfer energy in a forwards direction.

6. You can run faster downhill with Hokas
I think this may depend on your downhill running technique. If you are an overstriding heel striker then that extra cushioning is going to be extremely forgiving on downhills. The rockered profile may transfer you onto your mid foot quicker to allow you to get off the ground again more rapidly than if wearing normal shoes. If you are a mid/fore foot downhill runner then it may not make much of a difference. But it depends on the slope.

On some slopes it may be faster to over stride and let the legs go rather than have a more controlled, higher cadence. This is where you can notice a difference, the Hokas allow you to let go of the legs without fear of the damage that every footfall is doing to your quads for later on in the race.

7. They are slower uphill
Hoka detractors claim they are slower running uphill. The Stinson Evo and Bondi B’s have very little flex in the toe which on steep hills may be a problem for some. It would depend on your big toe and ankle flexibility and speed. For steep hills if you prefer to really run on your toes you may find the lack of flexibility in the forefoot a problem but for the majority of runners and particularly ultrarunners who walk or slowly run uphill this is likely to be of no consequence.

But its probably not the shoe to run a vertical kilometre in!

8. Hoka are the opposite of a minimalist shoe

I disagree with this statement but it depends on how you define a minimalist shoe. If having a low heel drop and no arch or pronation support is to be considered a minimal shoe then the Hoka is a minimal shoe.

If you define it as being a shoe that is extremely flexible and can move with your foot then they definitely aren’t.

9. They allow you to get away with poor running technique
Does the big cushion encourage or allow your form to go sloppy without you noticing it?

To a certain extent I think this is true – you can crash your heel into the ground and the cushioning will absorb the shock. So if you are looking for a shoe that will allow you to feel when your form suffers then Hokas may not be a good choice.

But the 4-5mm heel drop and rockered profile encourage a faster transition from landing to push off so may improve technique. This helps offset the lack of feel.

If you are a massive overstrider then any shoe with cushioning will help soften your ride unless you are going very minimal.

Improving your running technique is not a simple as just switching to a more barefoot type shoe. I have seen plenty of barefoot runners with poor form. Conscious awareness of technique is necessary.

Summary

Pro’s

  • Reduction of fatigue in the quads due to less knee flexion
  • The extra cushioning certainly protects your feet from the hammering they may take in a long run or race.
  • They are extremely durable – my shoes have done over 1000km and still feel fine with no marked signs of wear.
  • It is easier to run faster downhill and with less stress on the legs.
  • Great for running long distances
  • Encourages more effective transition from landing to push off through the use of the rocker

Cons

  • For faster runners who already make good use of elastic recoil in their lower leg tendons Hokas may not be as effective over shorter distances where you may be able take more advantage of this.
  • Some runners will find the larger shoe both in height and width reduces their ability to run technical trail. I dont find this on anything except very rocky sections where having more narrow feet would help place your foot between the rocks.
  • They may be less effective running fast uphill depending on the slope and speed
  • No pronation control (although that may or may not be a good thing depending on the foot)
  • May allow you to get away with prominent heel striking

Disclaimer

I am not affiliated with Hoka in any way – I paid for all three pairs of my Hokas although the most recent pair ( Stinson Evo Tarmac) I purchased at a discounted price and was asked if I would write a review of them.

 

*Increasing Running Step Rate Reduces Patellofemoral Joint Forces
LenhartR, Thelen D, Wille C, Chumanov E, Heiderscheit B
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 2 August 2013

**A Test of the Metabolic Cost of Cushioning Hypothesis during Unshod and Shod Running
Tung, Kryztopher D.; Franz, Jason R.; Kram, Rodger
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: 25 July 2013

  37 Responses to “Hoka One One – marketing hype or running shoe revolution?”

  1. Great review/article Andy. I have been running in the Stinson Evos for a couple of years now and have run a few milers in them as you know. I agree with most of what you say, but the spring/elastic effect of the achilles and other lower leg tendons, I am unsure about. I mix my running with minimalist Inov-8 and New Balance shoes and call it placebo or maybe it is indeed physics, but I feel more ‘spritley’ in the lower profile shoes and can ‘dance’ along singletrack and rocky terrain more confidently. That said they still have a place in my training and racing and certainly are a great shoe for long distance training runs. My only reservation is the collapse of the medial sole after a few hundred kms due to my right foot pronation. I also feel that whatever amount of pronation one may have (and we know pronation is not a bad thing) can be exaggerated due to the amount of cushioning. What are your views on that? Cheers Spud

    • Thanks for the comments Spud

      You will feel more springy in lower profile shoes but that springyness may come at a cost – ie calf and achilles will have to cope with more load through them. It also depends on your calf flexibility – if a 4-5mm drop is at the end of your range then a lower profile shoe isnt going to make a difference as you cant go any lower anyway but if you have a greater range of movement then with a zero drop shoe you may be able to load more elastically.

      Re the pronation and collapse of the medial sole – Personally I havent found the cushioing wear down any quicker on any part of my shoe even after 1000k. I do wear an orthotic which may be part of the reason for that.

      I dont feel the cushioning will exagerated the pronation any more than landing on a hard surface. If anything I think landing on a softer surface may reduce the pronation depending on which part of the foot hits the ground first – ie if you land on the outside of foot first then the outside of the shoe will start being compressed before the foot pronates in. If you land already pronated then that may set you up for even more pronation and lead to medial sole compression.

      Would be a very individual thing and dependant on which part of the foot hits the ground first and the position of the foot during midstance.

  2. I have recently just changed over to the hoka’s and in my opinion they are the best shoes I have ever run in , I have done a couple of ultras , tri’s , marathons with no problems . They are very forgiving , I think they are absolutely fantastic and can’t recommend them enough !!!

  3. Great post Andy. I am skeptical about them mainly because I don’t think it’s a good idea to be that far off the ground when running.

    They do seem to have defied expectations though and the majority seem to love them. Interestingly it took 30 years to discover that regular supported shoes were damaging to people, we might have to wait 30 years to see what the score with these are?

    • Thanks James – I didint want to like them for the same reason with you but thought I should try them and havent changed since.

      If i was only doing shorter distances I’d look for a lighter shoe – I have a very light ground contact and land mid/forefoot so the heel cushioning doesnt help me at all but for ultras everyones stride reverts more towards the heel as we fatigue so the extra cushioning and fraction extra weight ( compared to a real lightweight shoe) are worth the comfort after running 70+ miles.

      The are the same as the minamlist shoes in that they have low drop an no arch support or pronation control the difference off course is the cushioning.

      There will never be an ideal shoe as everyones feet and running style is different – hopefully in 30 years time we’ll have a better idea of how to choose the right shoe for the right person – at the moment the best advice I can give is if its comfortable then go for it. All this pronation control etc is scientifically unsound. Barefoot is good for some but not for all ( despite what some of the more ardent barefooters will try and have you believe)

      Cheers

      Andy

  4. Good blog Andy, and nice to see someone stepping back from what is generally a very emotive debate and trying to look at it from an objective position. As someone who regularly runs long ultras in inov-8 x-talons and has instinctively rejected the idea of Hokas (mainly in terms of stability and foot placement on technical ground, but also partly due to not wanting to wear clown shoes!) I’m almost tempted to give them a go. The generally good feedback from my peers can’t all be wrong, can it?

    What worries me however is that I have a history of turning my ankle over, especially when I used to wear more cushioned shoes. Since moving to minimal shoes the instances of this have been greatly reduced. Do you think Hokas are likely to make this more of an issue again? I’d assume the stability of the wider base would offset the lack of feel/placement and reduce the risk to a degree, but conversely the damage from doing so would be worse as the being further raised from the ground would increase the torque on the ankle if it did go over?

    • Thanks for your comments Darren – regarding ankle stability I dont think the Hoksa are any less stable due to the wider base but if you do go over then yes once you are past the point of no return you have further to fall due to the height.

      I dont think there is any less lack of feel – the proprioreceptors in your lateral ankle will sense movement whether you have barefoot, hokas or high heels on.

  5. […] Hokas: Marketing hype or running shoe revolution?  Scotty loves his (as do many), I think they’re ridiculous.  Balance makes the world go round. […]

  6. Great read Andy. As a Hoka wearer myself I’d always wondered what your thoughts were on them given you’re not just some plodder like me :)

    I tend to find that people often have an opinion about them without having ever tried them so it’s certainly interesting to read your analysis of the pros & cons. I’ve heard a number of people cite lack of ground feel as a reason not to try them and I’ve never really understood that point, especially when running long distances or trails. I’d rather my feet get the most comfortable ride possible ;)

    For me, i just find they make me enjoy running more because I can run more frequently and longer without feeling trashed. The only thing I’m conscious of – and was one of your points – is about running form. I’ve suffered from ITBS and I think this is mainly due to my running form/technique (not the shoes fault – I’ve just never given it any attention) and the fact I’ve been able to pour a lot of k’s into my legs without feeling fatigued. So I’ve been working more on my running technique (as well as using your great dynamic exercises) and will hopefully end up with the perfect combination of good technique and amazingly comfortable shoes. Time will tell!

    Cheers.

    Kirk.

  7. I came to your site via Form Before Footwear. I started wearing Hokas in May 2013 and I have to say, I am convinced. I have chronic knee issues and was advised that I might have to stop running if I could not get things under control. The Hokas are proving to be a part of my “control” arsenal.

    I think for runners with osteoarthritis / knee degeneration the Hokas offers up hope of continued enjoyment – indeed pain free enjoyment – in running.

    Here’s some links about my Hoka experiences:
    http://www.beatinglimitations.com/blog/post/20130529-hokas
    http://www.beatinglimitations.com/blog/post/20130809-hoka-v-sauc-leftside

  8. I was literally about to give up road and trail running due to a persistent calf strain injury. I had a good spell on Go-runs by Sketchers that taught me to run on my forefoot. But even after this any distance over 15k resulted in severe pain and a weeks layoff. After some extensive research and some sound Twitter contacts I found and purchased the Stinson Evo Tarmac. I have since ran a sub 40min 10k and a sub 1hr 30min half marathon. I run my first marathon in two weeks at the New Forrest. I’ve not heard a peep from my previous disabling injury. I would pay £1000 for a pair of these amazing shoes that have given me the opportunity to run and love long distance running.

  9. I’ve become bipartisan – I now love BOTH my Vibram FiveFingers and my Hoka Bondi B (which means I now get the benefit of having BOTH minimalists and maximalist proselytes tell me I’m an idiot). My VFFs has mainly become a winter shoe for long slow uphill runs on the treadmill, targeting the calfes. My Hokas has become my first choice warm-up and/or prehab summer shoes, but I also use them for long runs where time out is more important than speed. I also have other shoes for track, trail, snow and ice – I’m not a one shoe guy, which is probably my main point here because I think that maybe the increased diversity in the shoe market will increasingly make more of us look at different shoes the way we look at different machines in a gym; there are no all purpose machines there and there are no all purpose shoes any more. Constant rotation also seems to have helped with some wear and tear issues, I’ve doubled my weekly milage over the last year and a half but on average I feel less sore everywhere from my feet up to my lower back.

  10. Great review. I’ve been running in Hokas for about a year now and they have not quite stuck with me. Your review helped me crystallize why. The majority of running is done in areas that you noted as cons for Hokas. I trail run in Colorado on very technical trails. Most of my runs are before work and are short. I also climb a lot of hills, and one thing I noticed immediately is that I felt slower and was using more energy going up hill. I’ve never been fast going down, so while I agree you can hammer the downhills in Hokas – you can only do this on a mostly smooth trail. Again, not where I’m running most of the time. On more technical terrain, I’d prefer something with less rise (better stability) and a smaller footprint for ease of placement. I will probably keep the Hokas in my quiver for longer runs, but I think I’m going back to Sportiva for my everyday running.

  11. Great review, touching on some pertinent studies. As a running biomechanist, I have to agree that not one shoe will work for everyone, but more and more people are finding and loving Hokas.

    The low drop encourages a more moderate heel strike or midfoot strike, but is forgiving for a heavy heel strike, as might occur in the late stages of an ultra. The stiff rockered bottom is great for people with bunions, halux rigidus, or other painful conditions of the forefoot/toes as it takes stress away from those areas.

    I’ve seen moderate overpronators that pronate appropriately in new Hokas, but excessively as the medial insole material degrades with miles of running, so Hokas may need to be replaced more regularly than other types of shoes with more “standard” amounts of cushioning.

    I was somewhat surprised by the prevalance of Hokas at the Leadville 100 this year. I would estimate 50% of the field wearing them. Also, in speaking to a member of the race’s medical staff following the race he joked that to examine a sprained ankle at the race, he first had to remove a pair of Hokas!

    I have run in Hokas but do most of my running in Altras. I like the way they feel climbing and love them on non-technical trails, gravel roads, and paved surfaces. I find that on rocky technical trails (which constitute approximately 85% of my total running) I roll my ankles excessively so Hokas are not the everyday shoe for me but they are an interesting option for many runners.

    • Hi Adam

      Thanks for your comments – interesting you say about Hokas needing to be replaced more regularly than standard types of shoes for moderate overpronators. I wear an orthotic and have found the opposite – easily clocking up over 1000k with no signs of degradation of the medial sole compared to more traditional shoes (also in an orthotic). Of course the orthotic would make a big difference. For those without an orthotic – I think it would depend on where the foot landed – if you landed in a pronated position I can imagine that would cause the medial insole to degrade quicker but if you land on the lateral aspect and then excessively pronate I think the medial insole would take longer to degrade as the initial impact would be lateral and then medial rather than all medial.

      Pronation is another extremely complex topic as I am sure you know. Hokas like any minimalist shoe offers no support so my recommendation is if you are currently wearing shoes with some kind of pronation control and that is working for you then it may take a while to adapt to a shoe with no support.

      I quite like the Altras but the zero drop is a fraction to much for me.

      Interesting to see Altra bringing out a maximal cushioned shoe next year

      Re Sprained ankle – I cant see why Hokas are any more likely to sprain an ankle than any other shoe except that once you have gone over on it – you then have further to fall. Personally I have found them more stable on some surfaces and less on others.

      Cheers

      Andy

  12. Hmmmmmmmm, questions.
    #2 – They reduce running efficiency? Says who – where is the data? You actually say you have none, but are only speculating. OK fair enough, sounds logical, but science doesn’t always equal the most logical estimation.
    #3 – Unstable on trails? Says who – again, no data. Speculation. I could speculate the opposite – with a highly cushioned shoes, you are more stable stepping on rocks, as the cushion will literally eat it and absorb into it. I live at the beach and only train on roads. But I ran a 100 mile rocky trail run in May (my first attempt at a 100 mile trail run – Massanutten) – didn’t roll an ankle or anything a single time. My explanation isn’t science either, its anecdotal evidence, but I again I could argue the opposite.
    #4 – They are heavy? compared to what? Compared to a minimalist shoe? HA! Then minimalist shoes are heavy too, compared to going barefoot. :) I dunno, but a 10.5 oz shoe for trails seems reasonable to me.
    #5 – Loss of energy contained in tendons? I’ve seen scientific studies that show running barefoot on a padded treadmill (ie zero drop cushion) provides the least amount of stress on the body. So you’re certainly saving energy that way. Enough to offset? Who knows. Need a study to confirm, otherwise its just speculation.
    #9 – They will allow you to get away with poor form – also known as ‘avoiding injury’ unlike other shoes. Some people might think of this as a positive…call me crazy.

    I avoided Hokas for a long time. $160 for a pair of shoes? I am a neutral 170 pound runner and wore neutral cushioned shoes (Nikes, etc.) forever. Never could go much past 300 miles. The least mileage I’ve ever put on a pair of Hokas is 700. Makes them a lot cheaper than other shoes I’ve worn.

    Shoes are very personal, if they’re not for you, don’t force it. But it never hurts to try a pair on from some place where they have a 30 day hand back guarantee.

    • Thanks for your comments Brett but I’m not sure I understand where you are coming from – I agree with all the points you raised

  13. Thanks for the comprehensive overview and accessible analysis which both confirms and elaborates on some of my own findings. I am personally grateful to the Hoka having run in all three models over the course of two years when the shoes were both instrumental in my developing the sensitivity needed to improve my own form and efficiency and, more importantly, the healing of what had become chronic, limiting calf and achilles injuries during my early attempts to resume high mileage training beginning in 2011 (at age 56). While I have recently moved on to lower profile, wide, hybrid shoes with soles comprised of fluid foams and light EVA’s, similar those found in the Hoka, I still keep a pair of Bondi Speed and Stinson Evos around to demonstrate their uniquely effective design features and performance for my clients, several of whom are running healthfully and strongly in the shoes at the time of this writing.
    Cheers,
    Art

  14. Hi good article.

    I did buy some if the first ones that came out. I Live in chamonix and Nicolas (the guy who started hoka) lives in the neighboring town of les contamines and I think we got some of the earlier models in our shops. Anyway, I found that I went over on my ankles quite often compared to “normal” trail shoes, especially when traversing a slope, and in the mud they were like skates! Needless to say I stopped using them. The new ones do look better though.

    • I agree that in the mud they arent great (I havent tried the latest trail versions yet though). Stability wise I havent found a difference but I do agree with you that they arent great for traversing slopes.

      No shoes is good at everything so you need to prioritise what the most important aspects you need in a shoe.

  15. Flank said he had a history of rolling his ankle in traditional shoes. I was the same when heel striking. Could be the reason. The minimal shoes encourage forefoot/midget landing.

    • Heel striking wont necessarily results in increased risk of rolling ankles but a lower heel drop will definitely help more than a fore/midfoot strike

  16. Great article Andy.

    I bought a pair of Hokas and thought they were great. Smooth, light, fast and the legs always felt fresh after a run.

    Then after a couple of weeks I started getting ITB issues and my tib post flared up. My tib post has been an issue for years that is easily sorted with a small amount of support in a shoe. I had never had any issues with my ITBs before the Hokas, and back to my ‘normal’ shoes I’ve had been no problem since.

    Even though I enjoyed running in them, they didn’t suit my gait. I feel the Hokas let your feet roll sideways in a way that bare feet or firmer shoes don’t.

    Like any shoe… they will work for some and not others.

    • Thanks for the comments Scott. Totally agree one shoe doesnt suit all. As I mentioned with the artilce the Hokas ( like all minimalist shoes) provide no arch support – so if you need that then they wont suit you – as you found out.

      I get away with that by using an orthotic in the shoe

  17. I currently using Altra Superior and Saucony Kinvara 2. I’m considering Hoka One as my next fleet of shoes. Is there any wrong from transitioning from zero drop to cushion shoes again? Thanks for any comments.

    • Hi Marc

      The only problem with transitioning back is getting used to the increased drop. I’ve run in a pair of “normal” shoes a couple of times since wearing Hokas and the 12mm drop feels like I am running in high heels! – the change from zero to the 4-5mm of the Hokas isnt as much though so you should be fine.

      The Hokas are very different to the Altra and if you are used to the Altra I would keep using them for short distances but for long distances the Hokas are fantastic

  18. […] 20130822-153339.jpg Ever since Hoka One One was launched a few years ago it has divided runners opinions – depending on who you speak to its either a revolutionary shoe or a fad that will disappear with time.  […]

  19. Well written Andy – good balanced arguments each way. For me, the max cushioned Hoka’s (Stinson Evo Tarmac and Evo Trail) are perfect for long ultra races. Anecdotal, but no doubt in my n=1 brain they allow you to go much farther pre-soreness. In training I try to reduce usage though to ensure that the muscular systems take some controlled pounding which leads to increased strength. In simple terms – my view is if you want to run further than you do now, regardless of your current “long” run distance – then a pair of Hoka’s is probably going to help!

  20. After MDS and Caboolture 48 I was totally trashed, physically and mentally. I felt that age was finally catching up on me as the pain in my knees and pelvic area was taking all the enjoyment out of my attempts to start running again. I purchased a pair of Stinson Evo and took them for a run. The next day I found my knee pain and pelvic pain gone; not just diminished but gone. This was too unlikely to be true, but then I discovered your report on Hokas and it all made sense. I’m still a little sceptical about my miraculous recovery but I have now bought myself a pair of Tarmacs. I think they could be just the thing to entice me back onto the track for another 24 hour.(I would like to know what Noakes thinks of them. I generally find him to be quite negative.)

    • Good to hear the Hokas have made a big difference. Not everyones experience is like that but for some they can make a massive difference. Hope they are still feeling good

  21. Hi Andy,
    Loved the review…
    Been considering these for a while. I also wear orthotics in my running shoes and in most shoes I have to remove the shoe liner to fit the ortho in. Is this the case with the Hokas? I have a half length orthotic, and unfortunately it means that by removing the lovely comfy liner, it feels hard under my forefoot and I also miss out on that lovely “new cushioned shoe” feeling if you know what I mean. I wear sports orthotics which are really hard plastic, but they work for me.

    • I wear half orthotics at the moment also and you dont have to remove the shoe liner to fit them in – there is no pronation control in the shoe , so orthotics work well with them

  22. […] For Australian runners, the Bondi B/ Bondi Low/ Bondi Speed/ Bondi 2/ Bondi 3 in all its incarnations has been the shoe that grabbed so much attention when Hoka first came to Australia back in 2011, the shoe that most users of Hoka OneOne running gear will have at least one pair of, and that probably offers the clearest first experience to new wearers of what Hoka OneOne means. […]

  23. After many months of struggling with unspecified heel pain in my left foot, which I believe is due mostly to poor running form due to trying to take pressure off my right forefoot (I have osteoarthritis in my right big toe) , I bought a pair of Hoka Bondi S. Only 2 weeks on and I am delighted with them. I am currently training for a tough (hilly) half marathon and all pressure and pain on my right toe is gone. When I start running, my heel hurts slightly for a couple minutes and then it vanishes. After a run my heel, legs and feet feel fresh and no pain. More to the point, when I get up the next morning my heel is no worse than before, actually I would swear my heel feels better after a run and deteriorates the longer after a run I am…..
    But even better, every single run since I bought the shoes have been a PB. I now look forward to all my runs and roll on half marathon!

  24. By the way in relation to Marc s comment above, I went straight from nike s lunar eclipse which I think have a 12mm heel to toe drop to the hoka’s without any problems…so far.

  25. Thank you for all your info! I am currently dealing with inflamed, swollen heel muscles and sprained ligaments and lots of nonspecific swelling and inflammation in my left foot. Last I had posterior tibial tendonitis in my right foot. Needless to say, I have foot issues. I do pronate a lot, especially in my right foot, my ankle turns in while standing still. I used to heel strike while wearing heavy motion control shoes. I felt there had to be a better way and tried the brooks cadence for more minimal but with still having pronation control. I liked them but I don’t think there was enough cushion for me because I devolved pain in my bunion. I also tried Newtons which I liked as well but that was around the time I devolved the tendonitis and was afraid to keep using them. I even put a superfeet insert to help but I was already in pain at that point. I was looking into Hoka’s for their cushioning aspect but still afraid of my pronation issues. After my injury heals I am going to get orthotics. I just hate super heavy motion control shoes!

    • Hi Jodie – thanks for your comment. Re pronation problems – some feet need extra support of an orthotic – sometimes the shoe can do the job but some people need more help. I wear orthotics and have found they work well with the Hokas.

      The advantage of orthotics is you can get a more neutral lightweight shoe rather than a heavy motion control shoe

      Hope the orthotics do the job for you

      Andy

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)