This review definitely is going to need a little bit of an introduction. First of all, for those who know me or follow my blog will know that I’m a firm believer of less is better in regards to shoe gear. The reason for this is the foot is able to work the way it was designed and begin the shock absorption process by feeling the ground and adapting to your pace, form, and stride. The foot begins the process that sets the leg and rest of the body up for landing and propulsion during running. If something interferes with the foots ability to do this, then form gets compromised and this can lead to injury. A stiff and rigid running shoe can indirectly ruin someone’s gait. So, can someone run properly in a traditional, stiff, and rigid running shoe. Probably, but it is without a doubt harder and makes it easier to cheat as well as minimize muscular recruitment.
So why would I discuss the Hoka One One on my site? 2 years ago I sat on a panel at The Footwear Event in Chicago wear I defended the use of Vibram FiveFingers. The Hoka One One staff was included as well. I thought how in the world can there be a shoe with that magnitude of thickness. I didn’t give it much attention and kinda laughed at it. Several months later while in my office at the hospital, a nurse walked by wearing a pair. “Where did you get those!!!??” was obviously my initial response. She found them at one of our local running shoe stores – Vertical Runner. As time went on, I continued to see more and more of this shoe. Eventually someone from my neighborhood whom I occasionally run with showed up in a pair. He was someone who had transitioned to minimalist shoes and had even run several marathons in minimalist shoes. “Why?” I asked. His response was “they are the same drop as the minimalist shoes but they have a “ton” of cushion!!”. They also performed great for him while running on trails he noted. And then the shoe began showing up everywhere. Ads in Runner’s World and Running Times. Many reviews in shoe guides and blogs. Then the unthinkable. Other popular shoe manufacturers began introducing their version of a “maximally cushioned shoe”. Really? This is finally proof that running shoe design and motive is industry driven. In other words, shoes are not being created as a result of medical based evidence or studies to reduce or prevent injury. Let’s say this again. There is no medical based evidence to support the creation of this type of shoe. The laws of physics will prove to us the higher you are from ground, the more unstable you will be and the more muscle activation it takes to maintain this stability. More muscle activation can lead to two things. Increased risk of overuse injury if done too fast so one will need to transition to this shoe. And two, increased muscle activation could lead to strengthening of the muscles over time. But is this necessary? If you just add a smaller amount of cushion and remain closer to the ground this instability factor goes away.
Shoe Name: Hoka One One Stinson Tarmac
Model: Stinson Tarmac Item No: 30609018
Weight: 11.6 oz (My 9.0 weighed 12.5)
Drop: 6mm drop with a 32mm heel stack height
Forefoot: The forefoot is wide enough to allow toes to spread. Not flexible as the rigid sole prevents any flexion of the forefoot or toes. With that said the toes have room to flex inside the shoe.
Cushion: I don’t know where to begin as far as describing cushion. If you are looking for a shoe with a lot of cushion, here it is. Trust me, it’s probably more cushion then you’ve ever felt before. It’s a firm cushion meaning it’s not too “squishy” and has somewhat of a rebound effect.
Flexibility: Let’s just say there is none. This doesn’t even come close to passing my roll up test. BUT, the platform of the shoe offers a ton of room and it’s almost as if your foot is functioning barefoot in the shoe. I like to make the statement it feels as if you are running barefoot on wrestling or gymnastic mats. I know this sounds crazy but that’s kinda the feeling I would equate it to.
Overall: The Hoka One One is the industry leader for a maximalist shoe. I still don’t know where this would fit into my running toolbox but I really like wearing it around when my feet and legs are dead from a lot of running. I know a lot of trail runners like this shoe and it’s gaining popularity amongst ultra runners. So bottom line, it’s way too much shoe for me to run in, but I think it’s a better option then wearing a traditional running shoe with an orthotic. It’s definitely worth trying if your considering it. Thanks!!