Shoe Name: Topo Athletic ST
Weight: 5.9 oz (mine came in at 5.5!!)
Drop: Zero Drop
Forefoot: The forefoot has an excellent wide square toe-box that allows room for the toes to function. This shoe will definitely accommodate a bunion or wide forefoot and has a flexible upper fabric for toe flexionThe sole has a notch on the bottom allowing flexibility between the 1st and 2nd toe.
Cushion: There is not much cushion in the ST which makes it function more like a racing flat to me. There is a degree of thickness to the sole, most likely from the 7mm EVA, which does provide some cushion that is firm and not soft or squishy so you get good feedback from the ground. The heel is solid and not cushioned enough to heel strike. Not that you couldn’t because it is a solid and square heel that will absorb some shock, but it’s definitely not designed to be worn by someone who is a heel striker. The heel is rather unique in its squareness and in my opinion a new approach for running shoes.
Flexibility: Passes my roll up test. Not that there is anything scientific about the ability to role up a shoe, but odds are if you can’t, then it’s going to restrict motion and inhibit a natural ride.
Overall: This is a great new shoe for the minimalist shoe world. I really don’t like to continue the term “minimalist” as I would hope we see more shoes move away from motion control and support. The Topo ST is a well thought out shoe which encourages a more natural foot strike yet still look and feel like a shoe. The most unique feature of this shoe is the flat and square heel. It really minimizes any inversion or eversion (side to side rotation) of the heel because it is its on part of the sole. So there is a heel, but no stack height to the heel. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this on a shoe before.
In regards to stack height, the ST (and all of the Topo Athletic Shoes) are low to the ground. This shoe has a total stack of 13mm so the foot is only 1.3cm off the ground. This is crucial when looking at muscle activation or the recruitment of more muscles to stabilize the foot. We know that the higher the foot is off the ground, the more more potential there is to have instability so the muscles work harder. 1,2
Another feature often ignored is the strap in the back is actually large enough to place your finger in to pull the shoe onto your foot. I know this doesn’t sound like a big deal, it I’ve tried on many shoes that have the strap and you can barely fit a pencil into the loop (Why spend the time placing it on right!!??) .
So the Topo split toe shoe has now evolved to a traditional looking running shoe with a mini also like feel and ride.
1. The influence of shoe sole’s varying thickness on lower limb muscle activity. Ramanathan AK, Parish EJ, Arnold GP, Drew TS, Wang W, Abboud RJ. Foot Ankle Surg. 2011 Dec;17(4):218-23.
2. Shoes influence lower limb muscle activity and may predispose the wearer to lateral ankle ligament injury. Kerr R, Arnold GP, Drew TS, Cochrane LA, Abboud RJ. J Orthop Res. 2009 Mar;27(3):318-24.