If you are one of the many runners that have a tendency to heel strike, it is important to choose running shoes that will offer plenty of cushioning and support in all the right places.
The best running shoes for heel strikers should protect your feet on landing, absorb shock during impact to prevent knee pain, and minimize pressure on the heel.
In this guide, we’ve listed 6 of our favorite pairs of running shoes designed to give the support you need and highlighted their main features.
But before we get to our recommendations, let’s take a look at just what heel striking is and why the design of your running shoes matters.
What Is Heel Striking?
If you heel strike, your heel is the first part of your foot to land on the ground when you run.
Other types of foot striking include midfoot and forefoot striking (the type usually seen in barefoot runners).
Heel striking, however, is the most common type and comes naturally to many people. And despite much discussion to the contrary, it is not considered to be better or worse than any other kind of foot strike.
As a matter of fact, studies have verified that there is no need to switch your striking pattern if you currently run without injury.
What is important, however, is choosing shoes that will complement your running style. That will make sure that both your comfort and performance levels are optimal.
What To Look For In Running Shoes For Heel Strikers
There are three main features common to the best running shoes for heel strikers.
#1: Good heel support
When the heel is the first part of the foot to meet the ground during the gait cycle, heel stability is paramount.
Look for a shoe with a deep heel cup, supportive heel padding, and a firm heel counter.
Avoid running shoes with particularly soft heels, as these will not provide the stability you need for rearfoot landing.
#2: A high heel-to-toe drop
Also known as a heel-to-toe offset, this describes the difference between the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot.
A high offset means that the rear of the shoe has extra cushioning so that it is thicker than the front.
As a heel striker, this will absorb impact efficiently and make you feel a lot more comfortable. It will also relieve pressure on the heel – ideal if you already have heel pain issues.
Good running shoes for heel strikers will ideally have a heel-to-toe drop of somewhere between 5 mm and 10 mm.
#3: A beveled heel
A beveled heel edge has an angled curve that stops you from hitting the ground abruptly. Instead, it promotes a gradual, natural landing that minimizes shock.
You should also look for a shoe with a groove splitting the heel from the rest of the outsole. This is known as a segmented crash pad and provides flexibility on landing, again promoting natural movement.
The 6 Best Running Shoes For Heel Strikers In 2022
#1. Saucony Ride 15
– Heel and forefoot beveling, 8 mm heel-to-toe drop, and lightweight feel
– Best choice for all-round comfort
With the Ride 15, Saucony took everything that was great about previous iterations of the shoe and made them better!
It uses a plush PWRRUN foam midsole and PWRRUN+ insole that provides superior cushioning without adding weight. The result is a comfortable ride with just the right combination of support, flexibility, and give.
Meanwhile, extra layers of durable leather on top of the underside of the midsole provide reinforcement in the heels, helping your shoes last the distance.
The high sidewalls give you the feeling of sitting into – rather than on top of – the shoe.
Combined with the wide base, this gives you exceptional stability and helps prevent both pronation and supination.
#2. New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 V12
– 8mm heel-to-toe drop, excellent heel support, and breathable Hypoknit upper
– Ideal for long-distance running
These shoes are made using New Balance’s Fresh Foam technology. This provides plenty of cushioning at the heel, absorbing the shock from high-impact foot strikes.
The rocker-shaped midsole and multi-piece outsole give you a smooth and comfortable landing.
There are well-placed compound rubber reinforcements at the toe and rear, providing the durability that heel strikers need.
The base is broad for stability, a feeling enhanced by the well-constructed internal heel counter.
We also like the soft, one-piece mesh upper which is stretchy in some areas and dense in others. This provides good support and added durability.
This shoe runs a little large, so our recommendation is to go half a size down when ordering.
#3. Brooks Ghost 14 Neutral Running Shoe
– Great traction and grip, with a wide variety of widths and 12 mm heel-to-toe drop
– Versatile – ideal for recreational road, treadmill, or light trail running
The best running shoes for heel strikers who value comfort above performance, the Ghost 14s are extremely well-padded.
The shock-absorbing heel cushion is soft yet firm and the signature DNA LOFT midsole makes for a fluid transition from landing to toe-off.
Meanwhile, the pillowy ankle collar and super-thick tongue provide welcome soft touches just where you need them.
The 12 mm heel-to-toe drop is extraordinarily large – perhaps too steep for some. But this is offset to an extent by the generous width of the platform that provides plenty of stability.
There is also a segmented crash pad on the outsole. This disperses your body weight across your foot and relieves pressure on the heel.
Of course, all the extra cushioning and padding comes at a cost. At just over 10 ounces, this is one of the heavier running shoes on the market. But it is also built for longevity and is one of the most durable in this guide.
#4. Floatride Energy 3.0 Running Shoe
– 9 mm heel-to-toe drop, full rubber outsole, and comfortably wide-toe box
– Best budget running shoes for heel strikers
Perfect for beginners or recreational runners, these affordable shoes from Reebok use the company’s Floatride cushioning technology in the midsole. This combines the level of comfort you want for long runs with the responsiveness you’ll need for speed.
This is a durable shoe for the price, with the full-length rubber outsole providing plenty of longevity.
The lugs grip well and are suitable for a variety of terrains, whilst the heel pocket is deep and gives a secure and stable fit.
Something to note is that there is no reflective detailing at all. This will make wearing additional reflective clothing more important if you tend to run in low-light conditions.
#5. Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 39
– 10 mm heel-to-toe drop, with a beveled and well-cushioned heel
– A stable shoe for everyday training
A problem with past iterations of the Pegasus line has been a slightly narrow toe box.
The significant heel-to-toe drop makes that quite noticeable, as it tends to put more weight on the forefoot. The Pegasus 39, however, offers a lot more wiggle room making it a much better choice for heel strikers.
Other features that make this shoe ideal include a beveled-edge heel and a well-cushioned rearfoot midsole.
There is also a pocket of Zoom Air in the heel for added comfort. Heel to toe transition feels smooth and easy as a result!
Rubber coverage on the outsole provides durability and grip, along with a little extra shock absorption.
Meanwhile, the enhanced stability in the heel gives this shoe the versatility you need for lateral movement in other sports besides running.
#6. ASICS Gel-Cumulus 24 Running Shoes
– Durable rubber outsole, 8 mm heel-to-toe drop, and gender-specific 3D Space Construction in the upper
– Best choice for superior heel cushioning
This is a shoe designed to support every stage of the gait cycle. The GEL rearfoot and forefoot cushioning is ideal for heel strikers and effectively absorbs shock to protect your joints.
The FlyteFoam Blast midsole cushioning and deep flex grooves then assist with toe-off for a truly responsive feel.
The flexible upper provides a comfortable fit with a roomy toe box. It’s a touch on the warm side, though, with quite a thick mesh that limits air circulation.
The heel counter provides just the right level of support, and the ankle collar is well-padded for comfort.
Built to last, the Cumulus 24 is made with ASICSlite Rubber in the forefoot and AHARPLUS Outsole Rubber for enhanced durability in key areas.
The Best Running Shoes For Heel Strikers: Key Takeaways
We hope this guide to identifying the best running shoes for heel strikers has helped you understand how the right combination of features can make the world of difference to your performance.
Whether you need footwear for everyday training or long-distance runs, all the shoes here will prevent pressure on your heels and protect your joints from impact.
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