Most runners land on their heels first, before putting weight on the middle/front parts of their feet. Many experts believe this type of impact sends jarring forces up into the heel, shin, and knee – leading to a vast array of running injuries. To avoid this tendency, be aware of your foot-strike mechanics while running – and examine the wear-and-tear on that old pair of running shoes. By selecting a new pair of running shoes that encourage pain-free foot strikes, you can enjoy running again even if you heavy heel strike. Shoes with the right technology can help you avoid a host of common injuries, including the plantar fasciitis and various types of knee pain.
Heel Strike Wear Patterns – You can easily analyze the way your feet touch the ground (without a running coach) by checking out the wear on your current running shoes. If you’re like most runners, you’ve worn out the tread on the back edges of your shoes. Alternatively, you may see the areas of greatest wear near the fronts of your soles.
Below are the 10 Best Running Shoes for Heel Strikers
10) Mizuno Wave Inspire 13, Men, Women, MSRP $120 Stability Shoe
Designed to hit that “sweet spot” of cushion and flexibility, this shoe features aggressive styling and solid, durable construction. It’s integrated support system provides extra support – without the extra weight. Designed for “flat-footed” over-pronators, this shoe helps you avoid putting too much strain on your arches. Its U4ic midsole cushioning platform helps you glide softly with each footfall – and avoid jarring heel strikes.
Foot pronation vs. supination – If you pronate, you strike the ground with your big toes and the balls of your feet; if you supinate, you strike the ground with your little toe and the outside edge of your feet. Check the wear on your current shoes to determine your physical habits.
9) Hoka One One Bondi 4, Men, Women, MSRP $150 Neutral Shoe
This shoe offers a massive midsole for optimal shock absorption on hard surfaces. Because it avoids midfoot overlays, this shoe provides increased flexibility to people with a wide range of foot types. The One One Bondi 4 features upgraded EVA midsole foam (30% softer than standard) throughout its entire length. Its heel/tongue uppers cradle your foot and complete this “ultimate comfort” package.
Meta-Rocker Technology – Today’s running shoes guide the timing of your foot strikes and weight shifts. Some late-stage running shoes feature forward fulcrum points increase stability. However, the One One Bondi 4, one of the best shoes for heel strikers, boasts an early-stage fulcrum point. This shoe’s Meta-Rocker point quickly transitions your weight to your forefeet (and away from your heels).
8) Hoka One One Clifton 3, Men, Women, MSRP $130 Neutral Shoe
Like the Bondi 4, the Clifton 3 features an early-stage fulcrum that transfers weight quickly from your heels to your toes. It includes a 10º heel bevel, which puts your foot on a downward slant – further increasing your heel/toe weight transfer speed.
Heel Bevel – Shoes with beveled trailing edges (behind your heels) encourage quick forward movement. The best shoes for heel strikers include beveled heels to soften/smooth out jarring heel impacts.
7) Brooks Transcend 4, Men, Women, MSRP $160 Stability Shoe
This visually-stunning shoe encourages runners onto their forefeet – and discourages heel strikes. Its stiff uppers provide “Guide Rail” support for solid and smooth foot plants. This shoe can take longer than others to break in, due to these stabilizing features. As a long-term investment, this shoe delivers excellent bang-for-the-buck with its durable and responsive cushioning.
Guide Rails – Most running shoes include dual-firmer medial posts to control over-pronation (putting too much weight on your arches). Brooks has introduced an alternative “Guide Rail” technology that prevents overpronation while allowing space for plush, one-piece midsoles (which provide greater arch support).
6) Asics Gel-Kayano 23, Men, Women, MSRP $160 Stability Shoe
Shoes built for heel strikers, like the Gel-Kayano 23, often feature heel cups that “grab” your heel and prevent the slippage that can lead to injury. This shoe’s upper includes FluidFit stretch mesh to fit your foot like a glove. Its Impact Guidance System guide and enhance your natural footfalls from heel to toe.
Over-Pronation – As you transfer your weight across your feet, you may roll too far inward, putting the majority of the stress on your big and second toes. This shoe helps overpronating runners keep their weight on the balls of their feet – not the extreme inside edges of their shoes/feet.
5) Saucony Triumph ISO 3, Men, Women, MSRP $150 Neutral Shoe
This trainer features Everun foam that holds up over the long-term – and stays tightly contoured to your feet. Its IsoFit system features a “floating’ support cage and plush inner sleeve that adapts to the shape of your feet as they move and flex.
Heel Impact – Saucony recently added more foam to the ISO Triumph 3 to increase its shock absorption. In the lab, this running shoe for heel strikers showed improvements in heel impact shock management. Test runners report forgiving toe boxes and flexible, freeing uppers (as compared to previous Saucony models).
4) Saucony Kinvara 8, Men, Women, MSRP $110 Neutral Shoe
Many good running shoes for heel strikers include substantial padding – and the Kinvara 8 is no exception. It improves on previous models by featuring a full-length layer of “bouncy” foam directly under its sock liner. Yes, this shoe is slightly heavier than previous Kinvaras, but it delivers soft and safe impacts that are well worth the weight.
Heel-Toe Drop – Experts differ on whether low-drop shoes like the Kinvara 8 or high-drop models (with a much higher heel than toe height) provide the best protection against injury. Some say that high heels throw your body out of alignment (for example, your calves/Achilles’ tendons operate at shorter lengths). Ultimately, each runner must experiment with a variety of heel/toe ratios and determine the best balance of stability and impact guidance for their unique physiology.
3) Brooks Ghost 9, Men, Women, MSRP $120 Neutral Shoe
This shoe features a breathable upper, though it may let in more water than wet-weather runners prefer. Like other running shoes for heel strikers, it features substantial cushioning. If you prefer long-distance running, this comfortable shoe has the impact resistance and high heel/toe drop you want.
Heel Geometry – The Brooks Ghost 9 features a raised heel stack that guides the flow of weight from heel to toe. Its unique design encourages you to transfer your weight from your heel strike points (closer to the outside edges of your feet) to the balls of your feet.
2) Nike Air Zoom Structure 20, Men, Women, MSRP $120 Stability Shoe
If you experience heel pain after running, the Zoom Structure 20 could be the answer. It uses a slanted foam block (higher in the inner/medial side) that connects with even softer foam for a gently guided run. This shoe features compression molding construction (instead of glue joints) to eliminate inflexible areas and provide 360º comfort. Its upper includes “waisted strobel” junctions which connect foam and mesh for unparalleled comfort.
Zoom Air – If you want to put extra weight on your toes (and give your heels a break), the Structure 20’s Zoom Air forefoot unit gives you the solid foundation you need for safe and secure toe-offs.
1) Adidas Ultra Boost, Men, Women, $180 Neutral Shoe
With this ergonomically-designed running shoe, you can put the “my heel hurts after running” issue to bed – for good! The Ultra Boost provides a sculpted transition from heel to forefoot with Adidas’ popular Torsion System. It combines the security of a locked-down support cage with the flexibility of an adaptive PrimeKnit upper.
Grip – The Adidas Ultra Boost series features flexible StretchWeb outsoles for an outstanding wet/dry grip. As you transition to a healthier, shock-absorbing stride, this shoe provides the security and confidence you need to adjust and optimize each and every footfall!