There are plenty of people who run regularly after age 50, and many are taking up the sport for the first time. But older runners have to worry about many issues that younger runners don’t even think about. Some of these include osteoarthritis, cartilage wear, bone density reduction, and loss of muscle elasticity. These make running trickier for the older crowd, and makes it essential to find running shoes which can give them some additional help.
Recent trends in running have been towards zero-drop, or minimalist shoes. The idea behind these is that having the heel higher than the toes, like traditional running shoes, leads to improper form which can lead to injuries. Minimalist shoes strive to level the foot out such that the heel and toes are on the same level. However, minimalist shoes are difficult to transition to, especially for older runners. A transition shoe is usually recommended first, which lessens the height between heel and toe. But older runners need more cushioning for shock absorption through the ankles and knees, and most transition or minimalist shoes are lacking in this area. But one shoe has been developed that actually has around 50% more padding than traditional shoes, in addition to a heel to toe drop of around 4 mm, which is approaching a minimalist shoe. This shoe is the Hoka One One, and it could be considered a game changer for some senior runners.
The Hoka One One was developed by Jean-Luc Diard and Nicolas Mermound. They were formerly executives with the well-respected French sporting goods company Salomon. The pair are ultra-marathon mountain runners who designed the shoes with their own performance needs in mind. Extra cushioning is evenly distributed along the bottom of the shoe so that the heel of the shoe is more in line with a minimalist shoe. Research by the developers done on elite runners has shown that landing on the mid-foot is paramount for the legs to absorb the shock and still provide a strong thrust forward. The Hoka is ideal for this because the extra cushioning is centered around the mid-foot.
The Hoka One One is attractive to runners of any age, but particularly for older runners because of the features listed above. The extra cushioning is apparent as soon as you try them on. The toe box is wider than most running shoes and has plenty of room. The sole of the shoe is also about 35% wider than standard running shoes, providing better stability and control. The shoe has a unique midsole geometry which Hoka calls a Meta-Rocker. This “rockering” profile allows a smooth, energy efficient stride from heel strike through the push off. The volume of the midsole is about 2.5 times that of traditional running shoes.
The extra cushioning is made from performance specific material that provides excellent shock absorption. This greatly helps reduce stress on the lower legs and back. There is enough cushioning so that any terrain that you are running on feels comfortable, from pavement to wet trails. There are a variety of soles available to tailor the shoe to your typical running terrain. The wider sole provides optimum stability, and the midsole has soft density and greater rebounding foam that allows for the correct amount of deformation to keep constant contact with the ground.
The sidewalls are reinforced for additional stability as well. The shoes are still quite lightweight, however, even with the additional volume and cushioning.
The reviews have been excellent for the shoe, especially with senior runners. The extra cushioning is noticeable on your first run with the shoes, and recovery is generally quicker for the next run even after pavement training. The shock absorbing feature is great for those of us with cartilage issues in the knees which might allow for years of additional training.
The Hoka One One shoes are available for shopping on this site by following these links: