Did you know that the vast majority of runners strike the ground with their heel while running? That’s an awful lot of people. While the naysayers out there may say that heel striking is the worst way to run, it nevertheless stands true that it’s incredibly common. So, what’s a heel striker to do?
Though there’s little evidence to support that landing naturally on your heel while running makes you extra susceptible to injury, it’s better safe than sorry. As with any running shoes, you need to ensure that you buy a shoe that best fits your running style and your body.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here are our top picks for the best running shoes for heel strikers.
Brooks Men’s Adrenaline Gts 17
- Breathable, flexible mesh and structurally supportive synthetic upper materials. Adjustable, asymmetrical mid-foot saddle creates a more secure, customizable fit. Lace-up closure. Plush tongue and collar. Comfortable fabric lining offers a great in-shoe feel.
- Removable molded foam insole supplies light underfoot cushioning. BioMoGo DNA has a gender-friendly cushioning design, making for a dynamic ride. Progressive Diagonal Rollbar: tri-density midsole designed to promote progressive pronation control, as well as smoother transitions throughout the gait cycle. Full-length, segmented Crash Pad ensures smooth transitions.
- Blown rubber forefoot. HPR Plus delivers long-lasting durability in high-wear areas of the outsole. Flextra rubber outsole piece offers a varied degree of support corresponding with gender and weight for enhanced flexibility. Deeper V-groove offers better release and improves transitions.
Called GTS because it’s the ‘Go-To Shoe’, the Brooks Men’s Adrenaline GTS 17 is ideal for heel strikers as the heel is given that extra added padding to protect the heel from damage from the ground.
With the DNA Midsole, the Brooks Men’s Adrenaline GTS 17 Running Shoe is extra comfortable and provides a smooth transition while running.
The shoes have a good grip, though slightly less so than the models before it, and the shoes are a great choice for a variety of road surfaces. They are a great mixture between firmness and softness, providing an easy, smooth ride throughout.
The shoe has a 12mm heel to toe drop, which is precisely the kind of drop worth looking for if you’re a heel striker. It has a decently spacious toe box and fits quite snugly on the foot.
There are around 3 color options to choose from, though none of them are particularly impressive. However, it has a black option if you’re looking for something more neutral in color.
The shoe has an interesting design, though it may not be to everyone’s tastes. The shoe is limited in lighter color options, but the neutral black should be able to match with most outfit combinations if you’re fashion-conscious.
- 12mm heel to toe drop
- Versatile for different terrains
- Spacious toe box
- 3 color choices
- Limited in color shades, i.e. not many lights
Hoka One One Men’s Bondi 6 Running Shoe
These durable shoes absorb shock incredibly well and run comfy. These shoes are designed for everyday runners to top tier athletes, so these shoes are an all-around good option whether you’re just starting out or experienced.
These shoes have been commended by the American Orthopedic Society, and so are particularly good for foot health. They’re designed for neutral runners, and though they are not particularly supportive on the midsole, they’re supportive in other areas.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, as with other Hoka shoes, these come in several color variants that have their own personality in themselves. The Carribean Sea/Storm Blue variant looks particularly striking. These shoes are quite expensive though, but worth the price for this dream of a running shoe.
- Good shock absorbency
- Range of colors
- Good padding on heel
- Not supportive on midsole
Nike Women’s Joyride Run Flyknit Running Shoes
- Style#: AQ2731-100
- Tiny foam beads are contained in 4 strategically placed pockets underneath your foot. They compress and adapt to your every step for incredible impact absorption and a stable feel. Nike Joyride Run Flyknit has been tuned specifically for all sizes.
- Flyknit is a super lightweight, breathable material that hugs your foot and keeps it in place. Synthetic material wraps from the inside of your foot to the top for a secure, conforming fit.
- Durable rubber is placed on the outside in high-wear zones. The raised nobs add traction.
- The 1-piece foam collar gives smooth, secure cushioning. The low-cut design feels comfortable around your ankle and makes the shoe easy to take on and off.
International super brand Nike is back with these fantastic running shoes! Though not designed specifically for heel strikers, these running shoes are nevertheless a great choice for those who strike on their heels.
With a 10mm heel to toe drop, these shoes have great support on the heel that absorbs shock. These shoes are also fantastic for new runners as they help with a lot of the soreness from running with inexperience.
The upper constitutes of a breathable mesh that’s very lightweight. It’s also great for wider feet as the knit material is quite stretchy. Your feet feel secure and in place with the lacing system and the dual foam cushioning system. All these combined make for an easy, enjoyable ride. No wonder it’s called the Joyride!
The shoe comes in a number of cool colors, and even the most neutral and plain colors come with a fun pop of color in the heel.
The white/racer-blue platinum tint edition is a great example of how this shoe combines style and substance all in one – you can’t go wrong with the Nike Women’s Joyride Run Flyknit Running Shoes. The only exception to that is the price – it’s not a cheap shoe!
- 10mm heel to toe drop
- Dual foam cushioning system
- Versatile colors
ASICS Men’s MetaRide Running Shoes
- FlyteFoam Lyte Technology - ASICS lightest weight midsole formulation that provides continuous cushion thanks to organic nano fibers.
- FlyteFoam Propel Technology - ASICS energetic foam formulation that provides supreme bounce thanks to a unique elastomer compound.
- Guidesole Technology - Innovative midsole foams and a rocker sole design gives the runner a soft landing and more efficient stride.
- Circular Knit Upper - Material construction is designed to offer improved breathability and fit
- Rearfoot GEL Technology - Attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance.
ASICS are known for making great quality running shoes, but are heralded in particular for their stability shoes. Whether you over or under pronate, struggle with a foot condition or just generally need extra stability, ASICS have you covered.
The ASICS Men’s Metaride is no exception to this, and this shoe is fantastic for heel strikers.
So this running shoe advertises itself as an ‘energy-saving’ shoe, but is it really worth its lofty price tag? As far as performance is concerned, the answer is a resounding yes. The rocker sole in this shoe encourages runners to hit the ground with their heel.
The midsole is designed to cushion and preserve more energy using FlyteFoam Propel technology. It has impressive breathability due to the knit upper and fits true to its advertised sizing. The gel on the rear ensures that you receive optimum shock absorbency when your foot hits the ground around the heel area – exactly what you’re looking for if you’re a heel striker.
It’s about mid-range in weight, so it’s designed more for those leisurely runs that for speed.
It’s a unique looking running shoe, with 3 color options – a red/black colorway, blue and white and a plain black version. Each of these options are aesthetically pleasing but don’t make as much of a statement as some of the other options on this list.
So it’s arguably nothing special in the looks department, but otherwise, it’s a good quality shoe and an enjoyable ride that provides the necessary support in the heel for a heel striker.
- ‘Energy saving’ technology
- Good shock absorbency on the heel
- May be a bit of a difficult fit for wider feet
Mizuno Wave Rider 21
- Cloud wave offers a soft, lively, and lightweight feel
- Engineered Mesh Upper for a sock like yet breathable fit
- u4iCx cushioning enhances cloudlike feel
- Fit in motion upper
- Soft anatomical sock liner for extra arch support and cushioning
With a ‘superb underfoot sensation’ which eases heel pain, the Mizuno Wave Rider 21 is ideal for heel strikers. The cushioning is great as it’s not overly soft nor overly firm, so it provides support and comfort in a harmonious balance. The wave dish technology used in this shoe absorbs shock where it counts – in the heel. It’s clear that the Wave Rider has the heel striker in mind with this extra emphasis on the heel.
This shoe is practicality personified in a running shoe. It’s both a great running shoe and great for walking, so whether you want to grab some groceries or do a marathon, this shoe is for you. The breathability in this shoe is very strong, though be careful when it’s colder as this shoe can be a little chilly as it’s just that breathable.
With the Mizuno Neutral Wave Plate, your feet can be extra supported between the midsole and the heel, making heel to toe transitions that much smoother. The shoe is great for long and short runs, and have plenty of cushioning on the heel, making them ideal for heel strikers.
This cushioning is great, though if you’re a larger runner take note – it may not quite be enough cushioning for you. It also has impressive durability, so you can really get your use out of these shoes. Marathon time, anyone?
This shoe has an impressive, sleek look to it that defines the modern running shoe. It’s also got a great range of colors and designs. One such color option is ‘peacock,’ and much like a peacock, this option will have people saying ‘wow’ as they see you running.
The prices are mostly dependent on size and color, but it’s overall quite affordable.
- Technology focused on better shock absorbency on the heel
- Good cushioning
- Numerous fun colors and patterns to choose from
- Good for walking and running
- Perhaps too breathable on cold days
- Not enough cushioning for larger runners
A Buyers Guide to the Best Running Shoes for Heel Strikers
Here are a few things worth looking for when buying a pair of running shoes if you’re a heel striker
A higher heel-to-toe drop
To protect your heel from any possible damage, you need to ensure that the rear of your shoe is adequately cushioned.
Usually, if the heel to toe drop is higher, it means the rear is adequately cushioned and so this is what you need to be looking for if you’re a heel striker. A gradient between 8 to 10mm is usually better.
Whilst cushioned is great, you ideally need a heel that isn’t too soft and offers more support in this area. As such, the midsole should be evenly cushioned throughout, not favoring one side or another.
You always want to be looking at a shoe that’s cushioned enough to provide great shock absorbency to minimize the impact on your feet as you hit the ground.
This is more of a rule for running shoes in general than just for heel strikers! When selecting a pair of running shoes, it’s usually best to select a pair that are more lightweight. This is so the shoe runs easier and doesn’t feel like you’re being weighed down.
The alternative to this is if you’re running a longer distance, in which case it may be worth selecting a heavier shoe with more cushioning
Shape and Size
You may think buying the wrong shoes for your shape and size isn’t a problem, but it should be avoided. With the wrong shape and size of shoe, your feet are opened up to all sorts of health related issues such as plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia.
If you have wider feet, look for shoes with a wider fit – and the same goes if your feet are more narrow. Shoes that are too big are just as much of a problem as shoes that are too small. Consider whether you over or under pronate too, as this can impact the type of shoe that will work best for your foot shape.
If you’re spending your hard-earned cash on a pair of running shoes, it’s only natural you want ones that will last. When selecting a pair of running shoes, check what others have had to say online – did they last a long time?
If you’re from an area where it rains a lot, are the shoes waterproof? If it’s hot, are they breathable? These are all crucial factors to consider when selecting those all-important running shoes. In addition, choose a shoe that works with your terrain.
There are specialized shoes out there for all environments, whether you’re running on a treadmill, a road or track.