If you’re a runner searching for your next shoe, you may have come across Hokas and wondered – are Hokas good for running? With their thick, marshmallow-like midsoles and claims of reducing impact, Hokas have become an increasingly popular choice for runners in recent years.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at Hokas to see if they live up to the hype for runners. We’ll explore the key features of Hokas, analyze the pros and cons, compare them to other top running shoes, and provide helpful tips for those considering purchasing a pair. We’ll also answer some frequently asked questions about Hokas at the end.

Key Features of Hokas

Thick Cushioned Midsole

The standout feature of Hokas is their oversized midsole, which provides more cushioning than most running shoes. This thick midsole aims to soften each stride, reducing the impact on your joints and minimizing fatigue. Most Hokas feature midsoles with around 30-40mm of cushioning or more.

Meta-Rocker Geometry

Hokas have a unique outsole design called the meta-rocker. This rocker-like shape curves upwards in the forefoot and heel to enable your foot to roll through each stride from heel to toe smoothly. This meta-rocker geometry is designed to propel you forward using less energy.

Lightweight Upper

Despite having chunky midsoles, Hokas are surprisingly lightweight. Most models weigh around 8-10 oz. The breathable, seamless mesh uppers contribute to the overall lightweight feel. Less weight on your feet should translate into enhanced comfort over long distances.

Wide Toe Box

Runners with wide feet often struggle to find shoes spacious enough to be comfortable. Hokas provide a roomy toe box in most models to allow your toes to splay naturally as your foot strikes the ground. This design matches the natural shape of your foot better.

Pros of Hokas

Impact Reduction

The thick cushioning of Hokas is highly effective at reducing impact shock, which occurs every time your foot hits the ground. Less impact equals less stress on your joints and muscles. Hokas absorb shock exceptionally well compared to standard running shoes.

Energy Return

While the soft Hokas cushions landings, the midsoles remain firm enough to return energy into your stride for a propulsive feel. The meta-rocker outsole also helps you conserve momentum smoothly through each gait cycle. Together, these features reduce runner fatigue.


Most runners report Hokas as amongst the most comfortable running shoes they’ve tried. Thanks to the pillowy-soft midsole and spacious toe box, runners can log high mileage in Hokas without feet or leg discomfort setting in. Comfort equals fewer distractions when pushing long distances.


Hokas excel at long distances like marathons but also handle speedwork and tempo runs well. Their versatility makes them suitable for most types of runners – from endurance junkies to race-focused competitors. The energetic foam and rocker design provide a smooth ride at slower and faster paces.

Cons of Hokas

Lack Responsiveness

If you love a snappy, responsive sensation when running fast, Hokas may leave you wanting more. The uber-soft midsole foam dampens ground feel and energy return at higher speeds compared to performance shoes with embedded plates (e.g carbon fiber).

Unstable Feel

Some runners struggle to adjust to the high-stacked profile and find Hokas wobbly, especially while walking. The cushioning also absorbs lateral movements less well, resulting in a less stable platform for runners prone to rolling their ankles. Adding stability elements reduces weight savings.

Limited Foot-Strengthening

The mega-cushioned midsole aims to reduce impact and joint loading as much as possible. However, experts now believe moderate impact helps build foot strength and resilience to injury long-term. Too much cushioning may cause feet to weaken over time for some runners.


Hokas don’t come cheap, with most models costing over $140. For budget-conscious shoppers or new runners uncertain if they’ll stick with the sport, less expensive shoes may be more practical. However, given their exceptional cushioning and comfort, Hokas deliver excellent value per mile for serious runners.

How Do Hokas Compare to Other Running Shoes?

Hokas versus Nike

Both brands offer lightweight, well-cushioned running shoes. However, Hokas claim far thicker midsoles for maximum shock absorption. Nikes tend to feel more responsive at faster paces thanks to embedded plates yet lack the plush comfort of Hokas over long distances.

Hokas versus Brooks

Brooks running shoes contend strongly as comfort shoes designed for injury prevention via DNA LOFT cushioning. However, their midsoles still aren’t as thick as comparable Hokas. Brooks excel at facilitating smooth transitions while Hokas aim to minimize impact forces completely.

Hokas versus Asics

Asics Gel cushioning aims to reduce shock like Hokas but isn’t quite as generously cushioned overall. However, Asics tend to promote better stability through guidance lines and less dramatic rocker soles. Asics excel as all-around trainers while Hokas target ultra distances.

Tips for New Hoka Wearers

Try Before Buying

Don’t order Hokas sight unseen if buying online. Every runner’s foot varies, so visit specialty running stores, try on different Hoka models, and pay attention to the fit and feel before deciding. Consult staff for the best Hoka shoe tailored to your foot, mileage, and running surface.

Break Them In Slowly

The extra midsole height of Hokas means your feet, ankles, and calves need time adjusting to prevent injury risk. Wear your new Hokas around the house first, then try short, easy runs before hammering long miles. Allow 1-2 weeks of gradual use for your body to adapt.

Consider Custom Orthotics

If prone to overpronation or supination due to high or flat arches, consider adding custom orthotics. Hokas offer little inherent stability control given the thick midsoles. Orthotics aid proper alignment for injury prevention when stability is lacking.

Mind Maintenance

Rotate Hokas with other running shoe models to help maximize durability and longevity. The exposed midsole foam will compress and degrade faster than outsoles. Try to air-dry sweaty shoes between runs and replace once cushioning feels packed down.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Hokas good for beginners?

Yes! Hokas provide new runners exceptional impact protection. Beginners lack developed strength for absorbing shock naturally, so Hokas shield joints remarkably well while learning proper running form.

Can Hokas cause knee pain?

In moderation, Hokas should reduce knee pain by cushioning impact shock traveling up legs anatomically. However, excessively worn-down Hokas losing their cushioning capacity could worsen knee pain over time if joint impact protection decreases substantially.

Do podiatrists recommend Hokas?

Most podiatrists praise Hokas for lowering clients’ pain levels from common injuries like plantar fasciitis due to ample midsole cushioning. Some do suggest stability shoes instead for runners significantly overpronating. Overall, Hokas receive strong podiatry endorsements for injury recovery.

Are rocker-soled running shoes bad?

No – research shows that stiff rocker soles like those of Hokas effectively reduce impact loading rates linked to stress injuries. Minimalist shoes forcing forefoot strikes show higher risks. Moderately rockered shoes simply aim to make strides smoother – not forcibly change form.

Can I lift weights in Hokas?

We don’t recommend Hokas specifically for strength training. The cushioned instability could contribute to balance challenges or improper lifting form. Stable cross-training shoes with flat soles are better suited for most gym workouts mixing plyometrics and weights.

In summary, Hokas excel at delivering an exceptionally cushioned yet responsive ride ideal for racking up ultra-mileage with minimal impact on joints. For runners prioritizing comfort over speed, Hokas deserve consideration alongside other max-cushioned shoes from brands like Brooks, Saucony, New Balance and Asics.

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