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.

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.

Video: Hoka Shoe Technology

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 with foot 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

walking shoe with rocker sole

Bondi LTR

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.

hoka hiking boots

Hiking

As of 2017 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.

Video: Review of the Hoka Trail Running Shoe

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.

Dr. Larry Huppin
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Dr. Larry Huppin

Podiatrist specializing in biomechanics at Foot & Ankle Center of Washington
Lawrence Z.Huppin, DPM is an internationally recognized lecturer and teacher on orthotic therapy and biomechanics.In his Seattle private practice his focus in on treatment of mechanical problems such as heel pain, bunions, ball of foot pain, athletic injuries and children’s foot conditions.In addition he specializes in toenail problems including ingrown and fungal toenail conditions. He is always focused on helping patients avoid surgery if at all possible and keeping your medical costs as low as possible.
Dr. Larry Huppin
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17 thoughts on “Can Maximally Cushioned Shoes like the Hoka Relieve Foot Pain?

  1. Do you recommend the Hoka for someone with Peroneal tendonitis? was thinking of trying the Hoka Clifton 3.

    1. Some Hokas are unstable laterally and may not be the best choice for peroneal tendonitis. The Clifton is better than most. You can try it but make sure you are not rolling to the outside.

  2. I bought a pair of Hokas Infinity, I work on concrete every night,I walk 13 +miles a night at my job.And I have had surgery on both of my feet for heel spurs.Had to wear inserts in my shoes,until I bought my Hokas,Now no inserts in my shoes.I would recommend infinity.If you don’t like them you can always send them back.I LOVE MINE.

  3. Which Hoka (if any) would you recommend with sesamoiditis? I have been dealing with pain for 2 years, and I have tried three different Hokas. Now I’m experiencing knee pain with the same leg. Thanks!

  4. Which Hoka do you recommend for Lisfranc fracture/dislocation, months postop after cleared to walk in sneaker? Was looking at WIDE shoes due to swelling and Hoka has Arahi in Wide. Would this do? Bondi looks awesome but doesn’t come in wide. Also not sure if they have enough arch support for lisfranc or whether I can/should but orthotics in them.

    Also I am trying to figure out there early (before metatarsal head) vs late stage (after metatarsal head) rocker and which would be better for lisfranc unloading. I assume early?

    Thank you.

    1. That’s a wide open question. Many people do not need orthotics and do fine with a good shoe alone. Many others need orthotics for relief and comfort. There is no way to answer your question without getting a complete history on your issue.

  5. I fell through my attic and broke my heel into four pieces. Also an injury to my Achilles’ tendon. I think I might have also broken my 5th metatarsal. This happened 7 years ago. I am now 65 years old and I don’t let it stop me from doing anything but I cannot push up on my foot and have minimal in/eversion.

    Would one of these types of shoes help me? Thank you.

  6. Hello
    I have an mpv big toe stress fracture which am avoiding a cartiva implant as well as bad osteoarthritis in both knees, mild scolisis and spinal stenosis, pronation and heel pain. I have tried 3 types of custom orthotics over the past few years and i canmot tolerate the hardness on my feet. I also have mild fibro and very bad nighttime muscle cramping when intry tonwear the orthotics even for an hour a day. Which shoes do you recommend as the xelro shoes have a rocker bottom but am wonderimg if that destanilizes my feet and knees. Thanks.
    Nancyfc

  7. I have a job that requires me to do a lot of walking in a 12 hour period. Last week I got home and found that both my feet were on fire, heels and balls of feet aching. I bathed them in Epsom salts and had them professionally massaged. I have put schol gel insoles in my working shoes but my feet and am wearing compression socks. My colleagues at work say that I should try the Hoka to seed if this shoe will help. My shoes at present are Accents and have had Brooks in the past. The Brooks shoes were hard on my feet and its only in the last few days of being on my feet so long that the problem has started.

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