Hoka One One: Marketing Hype Or (Another) Running Shoe Revolution?
When evaluating new running shoe styles, the old adages “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is” or “buyer beware” are good rules of thumb. Having said that and considering the class action lawsuits settled by Skechers for Shape-Ups and Vibram for FiveFingers, it is more important than ever for podiatrists to be aware of new footwear trends.
The latest trend is maximalist cushioning. Around since late 2010, Hoka One One (named after a New Zealand Maori phrase meaning "to fly") is the new “it” shoe that podiatrists need to know about. Originally developed by a group of eccentric French designers and ultra runners, this shoe has an engineered midsole volume, which is up to 2.5 times the volume of a standard running shoe. Decker Outdoor Corporation acquired the original company in 2012. Decker Outdoor Corporation is a publicly traded company that owns the brands Ugg, Teva, Sanuk, Ahnu and Tsubo.
Hoka One One has been a big player with ultra runners and, similar to Five Fingers, has started to develop a cult following. In fact, at the Speedgoat 50K last year, 27 percent of the finishers wore Hoka One One shoes. No other brand had more than a 7 percent share of the runners in the race.
Fortunately, I am not seeing the injuries with Hoka One One that I saw with FiveFingers. However, similar to FiveFingers, maximalist cushioning isn’t going to benefit every runner’s foot type or heel strike. Also, not every model is designed for the same foot or supports the foot the same way. My favorite Hoka One One model is the Bondi as it hourglasses the least in the waist of the shoe. If the fit is correct (width, depth, etc.), I have prescribed Hoka One One for runners experiencing sesamoiditis and hallux limitus/rigidus as the shoe may be beneficial for those conditions.
For a related Forum column, see “When Shoe Companies Make Misleading Health Claims About Their Products” at http://tinyurl.com/qcobge3 .