Remember minimalist running, with thin-soled shoes designed to mimic running barefoot? It was
all the rage a few years ago. But now top shoe brands are swinging in the opposite direction.
Welcome to maximalist running, where super cushy footwear with stacked heels reign–and
promise to give your feet added stability and better shock absorption. Fans of these shoes say
they’ll have you running longer distances with faster recovery times.
Brands like Hoka and Altra have become increasingly more popular in the last few months
because of their ultra-padded designs. Both companies pride themselves on making running
shoes with the maximum amount of cushioning to create as much barrier as possible between
you, the runner, and the hard surface you are running on.
Maximalist shoes look a little different than traditional running footwear. The soles are thicker
and have a zero-drop, meaning the toes and heel are at the same height off the ground. (Most
running shoes, by contrast, raise the heel up to 12 mm higher than the toes.) The toe box is
wider, allowing the foot to spread out inside the shoe more naturally than the tapered or squared
toe box of an average running shoe.
Runners training for marathons are among those singing the praises of maximalist shoes. Others
are more skeptical. The truth is, extreme cushioning can be great for a lot of people and not so
great for others. At Running Excels, we recommend a gait analysis to determine whether you
need arch support. From there we suggest trying on several shoes and going with the pair that
feels most natural, not necessarily what is most popular. Running Excels carries Hoka shoes for
customers who would like to check out the maximalist trend in running shoes.