For years, it’s seemed like running shoes were getting smaller. It was all about minimalism—the fewer bells and whistles (and weight) on the shoe, the better. But the running sneakers you’ll be seeing everywhere are going in a totally different direction, adding foam to the mid-sole to create a U-shaped curve (versus a flat one) that aims to help your stride get faster and make miles feel easier than ever. Meet: The rocker shoe.
HOKA, which was one of the first to bring the technology to market, uses a cambered midsole in their shoes “to help propel a runner or walker forward by enabling them to roll easily from impact to toe-off,” says Gretchen Weimer, global VP of product at Hoka One One. “It’s designed to create a smooth ride and provide the feeling that the shoe is working with, rather than against, one’s natural gait cycle.”
ASICS released their Glide Ride shoe in late 2019, which features an ergonomic curved sole. Testing conducted by the brand found that the shoes reduce total energy loss at the ankle joint, which is where runners expend the most energy, and reduce weight in the foot while maintaining stability. The increased cushioning at the sole provides more comfort during long runs, and the shoe offers a shock-absorbant landing zone to lessen the fatigue in your leg muscles. Nike has also introduced similar technology into their latest line of runners. The Vapor Fly 4% Flyknit and soon-to-be-released Infinity Run React feature rocker bottoms that allows for a fluid transition from the time your foot hit’s the ground to when you push off of the toe for the next stride. And Saucony’s Endorphin collection, which launches in the summer of 2020, uses proprietary SpeedRoll Geometry to “deliver a propulsive toe-off that makes running feel faster and easier,” according to the brand.
Having tried all of these shoes out for myself (minus the Saucony selects, which I can’t wait to get my hands on come 2020), I can attest to the fact that they’re legit. But, cautions Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare, the style may not be the right choice for everyone. “There are trade-offs to wearing rocker-style shoes: While they decrease the load on the Achilles tendon, they also simultaneously increase the pressure on the knee joints,” he says, noting that he wouldn’t necessarily recommend them as a permanent running shoe for everyone. If you do want to rock a pair of rockers for your run, it’s worth taking the time to adjust to them so you don’t wind up falling flat on your face. “If rocker shoes are chosen, I recommend they also do gait training and transition into rocker shoes slowly,” he says. Start by training your foot to walk in them, and work up to using them in a run. Ready to rock? Shop the very best options below.
ASICS GlideRide, $150
Nike VaporFly 4% Flyknit, $250
Nike Infinity Run React (Available January 2020)
Saucony Endorphin Pro (Available Summer 2020)
Another new shoe we’re excited to try in 2019? Nike’s latest HIIT training sneak, which was designed specifically with your workout class in mind. Plus, here’s exactly how to know when your running shoes have logged their last miles.
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