Can Maximally Cushioned Shoes like the Hoka Relieve Foot Pain?

A new type of “super-cushioned” shoe has recently come to the market and for certain people these shoes have proven to be helpful and decreasing foot pain. Hoka Cushioned ShoeThe first company to bring these to market was Hoka One One. Now many of the running shoe companies are coming out with similar models.

For video click here

The video below provides a good overview of the technology and science behind the Hoka and other maximally cushioned shoes. The video makes it seem, however, as if the shoe is only for runners. We have also found it very useful for walkers with certain types of foot pain.The super-cushioned shoes are, at best, unusual looking. Some would consider them ugly. But they incorporate two features that can be helpful for people with foot pain that does not respond to other treatments.

  • They have much more cushioning than average shoes. This cushioning acts to slow the velocity of the foot as it hits the ground. This can decrease pressure under the heel and under the ball of the foot. For this reason these shoes can be helpful for people with ball-of-foot pain and heel pain such as plantar fasciitis.
    Hoka One Cushioning and Rocker

    Extra cushioning and rocker sole

  • The super-cushioned shoes also incorporate a “rocker sole”. Rocker soles also decrease pressure under the heel and the forefoot plus they act to decrease joint motion in the foot. For this reason they can be helpful for people withfoot arthritis and with tarsal tunnel syndrome.

In the past many shoes that have been the most cushioned have also been very unstable. The Hoka One One shoes get around this problem by using an extra wide sole that wraps around the shoe. Still, they are meant for walking and running only and should not be used for side to side sports like tennis.

At our foot clinic in Seattle we have also found these shoes helpful for Boeing workers who stand on hard surfaces for long periods of time.

Which Hoka Model Should You Get? Look for a Rigid Rocker

When we recommend Hoka to our patients we usually do so because we want them to have the benefit of a rigid rocker in the forefoot. Some Hoka shoes do not have this rocker so it is critical that you get the correct model. Make sure that the forefoot does not bend when you push on the front of the shoe. As of Summer 2015 the following models have a rigid rocker. Other models may also, but check to make sure. You can use the links to see the shoes.

For Video click here 

I have been recommending the trail runner to many of my patients who simply walk for exercise. I find it somewhat more stable than the standard Hoka running shoe. But in general, if we have recommended a maximally cushioned shoe to you then any of the Hoka shoes should work. In the future we will be evaluating super cushioned shoes from other brands.

We do not think that these shoes are for everyone. But for those who benefit from extra cushioning, they can be very helpful. For help in determining if these are the right shoes for you, make an appointment to see us in our Seattle foot and ankle clinic. Be sure to bring samples of your shoes and any orthotics or arch supports you currently wear.


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