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5 Best Running Shoes For Heel Strikers in 2023: Guide

People are usually surprised when I tell them that I’m a heel striker, probably because they see me running all the time and I rarely complain of having pain.

I have a little secret though, I always take my time choosing the right shoes. I know not a lot of people have the time and the passion to analyze footwear like me, so I’ve decided that I am going to help you choose the best running shoe for heel strikers, by going through some of my favorites.

a quick look at my favorite shoes for heel strikers

Key Takeaways


  • Heel striking is very common
  • Cushioning running shoes will help absorb the strike impact
  • Try to limit your heel striking if possible by being mindful of your foot placement.
  • Heel strikes can cause pain and injuries, depending on the severity.
  • A slight bounce in the sole is good for heel strikers.

Top 5 Best Running Shoes for Heel Strikers

5. Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 – Best Overall

The Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 are soft and light running shoes with state-of-the-art foam that provides good cushioning action. They are very popular and I lot of runners swear by them.

Sole and Midsole

They have FlyteFloam Blast+ technology, meaning that the sole has different types of density. The density is higher in the heel area and softer in the midfoot and forefoot, this means that these shoes offer you the perfect lift-up from your toes and supportive cushioning for your heel.

They have a slightly bigger heel drop than I usually go for. The heel stack height in the men’s model is 26mm and the heel stack in the toes is 16mm. The drop is even higher in the women’s models.

The women’s have a 13mm heel drop, however, the drop is very steady and supported so I’ve only felt discomfort when I had a minor injury on the ball of my foot.

The 3D SPACE CONSTRUCTION gel padding provides a little more cushioning, but most of the impact-absorbing action comes from the foam in the heel, which is very good news for heel strikers.

The sole is made from strangely placed blow rubber that provides the runner with great stability and grip.

Upper

The Upper part of the Asics Gel-Nimbus 24 is made from mesh knit which offers breathability and comfort. The shoes fit very well and even have a generous toe box that gives your toes plenty of space.

The shoelaces are flat, which I prefer more than the round ones and the upper Is made from recycled materials.

Pros

  • Stabile
  • Comfortable
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Big heel-to-toe drop
  • May be too chunky for some
  • Expensive

Why Should You Buy It?


These shoes are medium cushioned and will give you good support plus agility and comfort.


4. New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3 – Best for Speed

New Balance is known for its top-notch running shoes and the FuelCell Rebel v3 are built with speed and agility in mind.

Sole and Midsole

The FuelCell midsole technology has a very high energy return and was made by analyzing stride patterns during running. Thanks to this the midsole is bouncy, but also stable, making them very easy to run in.

Their heel-to-toe drop is only 6 mm which is more acceptable for runners. Professional runners tend to go for a 0 heel-to-toe drop, but it can be uncomfortable for others, and these shoes offer a middle ground.

The heel stack height is 29,5 mm which means that they have extra cushioning that will aid heel strikers.

The downside of the soft and bouncy midsole however is that it’s less durable than firmer options. Also, the blown rubber on the sole doesn’t have deep patterns so it might be slippery on wet surfaces.

Upper

The material of the upper part of the shoes is lightweight and it hugs your foot for extra support. The laces are flat and can also secure the tongue in place.

The knit fabric is very flexible and the toe box is adjustable which makes it suitable for people with wider feet or runners that suffer from swelling in their feet.

The heel collar extends upward which gives extra ankle support and a good foot lock feel. Not to mention that they come in very bright and vibrant colors that I love.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Form-fitting
  • Breathable
  • Reflexive at night

Cons

  • Questionable durability
  • Slippery on wet roads
  • Expensive

Why Should You Buy It?


These shoes are very good for high-speed runs on dry running tracks, they have a powerful lift-off and a soft landing.

Also Read: What is Zero Drop Running Shoes?


3. ASICS GT-2000 10 – Best for Beginners

The GT 2000s are not only suitable for heel strikers, but also for people that are slight overpronators. They are natural shoes that will provide you with basic stability for beginner’s level support.

Sole and Midsole

The ASICS High Abrasion Rubber that these shoes have is made from car tires and is very absorbent and resistant.

The GT200s have a gel layer in the inward part of the midsole which allows for extra stability and helps you keeps your ankle from pronating.

The heel-to-toe drop is 8mm and the stack high in the heel is 21mm, this leaves the stack height in the toes to be 13mm.

The heel stack height plus the resistant high absorbing FLYTEFOAM foam makes these shoes a good choice for heel strikers and people with overall foot placement disbalance.

The sole is made from blown rubber with medium-deep patterns that offer some grip action.

Upper

The mesh knit is semi-breathable, but I do find the material to feel a little cheap compared to the midsole.

The padding on the heel is moderate and the tongue is cut low and secured with flat shoelaces.

The fit is narrower in general, so if you have wide feet go for the wide or extra-wide version.

Pros

  • Flexible
  • Foot support
  • Slight bounce
  • Comfortable

Cons

  • Midsole is not very durable
  • This height stack at the ball of the foot may be too low for some

Why Should You Buy It?


These shoes promote proper running form and posture.


2. Brooks Ghost 14 – Best stability

Brooks Ghost 14 are great for fast to medium-paced runners because of the good cushioning action and the flex groove on the outsole that goes from the heel to the toes and provides firmness.

Sole and Midsole

These shoes have state-of-the-art DNA Loft cushioning technology that is mid-firm, which offers more stability than other foams soles that are usually softer around the midsole.

This makes the Ghosts 14 good for sprints and high-impact cardio days, but also exercises like burpees, skater jumps, jump squats, and so on.

The heel-to-toe drop is 12mm and is something to keep in mind. The drop, however, is steady and the heel is supported by extra cushioning which will give heel strikers better impact absorption.

These shoes don’t have a very high heel elevation but are very stable and that can also aid when it comes to improper and intense landing. Also, they have a very good grip and anti-slip sole design.

Upper

The upper has a plush fit and it’s made from fresh material that allows airflow.

What I love about these shoes is that they come in different colors and styles, not just boring black and grey.

The heel cup has extra padding that protects the skin on your ankle from rashes and flat laces that secure the tongue through a little loop on the front.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Extra padding
  • Stable
  • Good grip

Cons

  • Heel-to-toe drop may be too much for some
  • May be too heavy for some.

Why Should You Buy It?


Sometimes you need overall stability not just cushioning and these shoes provide that.

Also Read: Comparison of Brooks Ghost Vs. Glycerin


1. New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro V6 – Most Comfortable

These shoes are probably the most out there, because of their bulky overall look and their floppy heel. But don’t be confused, they are very comfortable.

Sole and Midsole

The sole of the shoes is made from a crazy-looking blown rubber pattern that prevents them from slipping on wet surfaces.

Thanks to the Fresh Foam X that the midsole is made out of, the shoes absorb impact and return energy in your take-off. The pattern on the sides of the midsole offers better cushioning and flexibility without making the platform soft and unstable.

Both the flappy heel and the curved toe ending serve as protection from high impacts like that from running and heel or toe striking.

The heel is pretty high up at 28mm, and the toes are elevated at 20mm, which makes the heel-toe drop 8mm, which is a moderate and steady drop.

Upper

The Hierro V6 has a very comfortable boot-like fit that I love. They stand taller on your ankle and personally, this offers more ankle stability for me.

I personally have a little issue with the style, I don’t find the exposed stitching on the heel flattering and the overall pattern looks messy in my opinion.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Stabile
  • Good grip
  • Shock absorbent

Cons

  • The style is not for everyone
  • Heavy
  • Expensive

Why Should You Buy It?


These shoes are one of the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn.


Important Information About Heel Striking

What is heel striking?

Okay, so in reality, many people are heel strikers without even knowing it. A heel striker is a person that lands with their heel first and then transfers the weight to the midfoot and then the forefoot.

In reality, this isn’t too bad, but if you put too much pressure on your heel and have a rough landing, then it can cause injury.

Studies have shown that heel striking first doesn’t necessarily have a negative effect on your speed or performance, but that all depends on the severity of your strike.

If you run barefoot, which I have seen some people do, especially on the beach, heel striking causes more pain than usual. However, it is very important to pick the best running shoes for heel strikers when you feel that the impact is starting to get worse.

What causes heel striking?

Heel striking happens naturally, usually when you land your foot a little further that the center of gravity.

There is a lot of debate regarding which style of landing is the best, heel, midsole, or sole of the foot, but everyone seems to have a different opinion. Most however agree that the best landing place is between your heel and midcourt.

Shoe companies know this, and that is why they make running shoes that have heel cushioning that is a bit more aggressive than the mid and front foot cushioning.

Does heel striking make you slower?

Runners will tell you that if your heel strike you slow down your speed and there is a bigger injury concern. This is true depending on the severity of your heel strikes.

If you are a moderate heel striker, you probably won’t feel any pain. Pay attention to marathon runners and you’ll see that some of them also have an aggressive heel strike.

The heel striking makes you slower talk probably originates from the fact that, due to pain, severe heel strikers wear shoes with extra cushioning, much like the ones I mentioned in my best running shoes for heel strikers list.

The softness of the soles on most shoes gives them a slight bounce, then inherently slows the runner down. This is why some athletes have flat soles or zero-drop shoes.

If you are not a professional athlete, however, you do not need to get these types of shoes if it’s not recommended by a physiotherapist.

The right shoes for heel strikers

All heel strikers will benefit from purchasing any of the shoes I mentioned above. The main things to keep in mind are that your shoes need to have good cushioning, stability, and heel support and the most important thing is that you feel comfortable in them.

Also Read: Fantastic Shoes For Sesamoiditis

Conclusion

Even if you just started running and noticed that you strike your heel first or you’ve been running for years and thought that you have to ignore your heel striking, you will always find comfort in knowing that there are well-made shoes with your problem in mind.

My best running shoes for heel strikers list is a genuine compilation of all the shoes I’ve worn and my honest opinion, you will never know if you never try, so next time you go shoe shopping, keep my list in the back of your mind.