Cushioning: A New Trend in Running Shoes

As has been the case with so many products during the advancement of technology, the goal to be thinner, yet more effective, has been a popular design for the better part of 20 years. Your phone is now smaller than ever, yet has so many features. Your laptop computer is thinner, yet includes a seemingly endless supply of memory. Your television is flatter than a pancake, yet the screen can be as large as you desire. In an age where thin is in, those within the running community have recently been drawn to something very different. When it comes to the rubber soles meeting the earth, thicker cushioning within a thicker shoe has never been more popular.


The Hoka One One

While various brands of running shoes have entered the fold when it comes to supreme cushioning and shock absorption, one of the more prominent names at the moment in terms of a maximalist shoe is that of Hoka One One. Half of the shoe, both visually and almost literally, is padding. When compared to a traditional running shoe, the Hoka One One claims to offer 50% more cushioning. While the shoe does look visually chunky, this particular brand has found a strong advocate in the person of runner and Olympic medalist, Leo Manzano. As a sufferer of plantar fasciitis, Manzano, in his own words, claims that his condition vanished one week after wearing Hoka One One footwear. The sensation of running on a cloud is how Manzano described his running experience after adorning the popular shoes.

Trend vs. The Future

As is often the situation when it comes to the latest and greatest product, you're going to have both advocates as well as detractors. While the Hoka One One is simply one supplier of maximalist running shoes, the current style is definitely that of supreme cushioning. So, is such a style nothing more than a trend, similar to the once popular barefoot glove style footwear, or is this style of shoe here to stay when it comes to the running community? Personally speaking, and although I'm not an avid runner, I've been around long enough to see a plethora of shoe trends come and go. At the end of the day, in terms of what sticks and what doesn't, the answer always lies with the consumer. When it comes to the fate of supremely cushioned running shoes, here are a few things that I would personally ask you to consider...

  • There will never be an ideal shoe for every runner.
  • Injury prevention footwear will never be injury-proof footwear.
  • A comfortable shoe and a safer shoe are not always the same thing. Human nature and simple logic suggests that a faction of people will always select personal comfort over what the experts deem to be safer for your feet and body.
  • The price tag will always be important. Many people would rather take a health risk, fictional or real, than spend extra money on potentially better and more cushioned shoes. Yes, even some avid runners.

Draw your own conclusions

On the surface, simply by reading the specifics and thumbing through testimonials, it is hard to argue that thicker shoes, courtesy of increased cushioning, wouldn't help a runner in respect to the big picture of health and performance. However, as the old expression goes, the proof is in the pudding. If you're a runner and are currently seeking additional comfort, you essentially have nothing to lose by giving these type of shoes a try. Draw your own conclusions and decide for yourself if a maximalist running shoe is your cup of tea.