When you run, do you land on your heel or the ball of your foot?
Forefoot strikers land on the ball of their foot when you’re running. In some cases, their heel may not even touch the ground at all.
Forefoot strikers can be prone to ankle, calf, and Achilles injuries. If you run this way, it’s essential to choose the best running for forefoot strikers to reduce your chance of injury.
Our number one choice is the Saucony Kinvara. It has a heel drop of 4mm, sports a full-length PWRRUN foam cushion, and has a thin, gusseted tongue for comfort.
Is your shoe on this list? If not, you may need to reconsider if you’re wearing the right footwear for your foot striking style!
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Saucony Kinvara 12
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Hoka One One Mach 4
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Best Zero Drop
Best Zero Drop
Altra Torin 6
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1. Saucony Kinvara 12
The 12th iteration of the Kinvara is ideal for forefoot strikers. Saucony is known for making light, comfortable shoes, and the Kinvara 12 doesn’t disappoint.
The Kinvara is a neutral shoe with a heel-to-toe drop of 4mm, so forefoot strikers will find a natural amount of forward lean without having to fight against a high drop.
At 7.5 ounces, they’re also light enough for speed but without sacrificing protective cushioning. The PWRRUN foam midsole is a slightly different shape to the 11, but is firm and snappy, providing a sort of hybrid feeling of being minimalist but protective.
Sauconys are also known for their wide platforms and roomy toe boxes. This is also a plus for forefoot strikers, as there’s less chance of damaging the toenails and developing blisters due to chafing because of a lack of space in the forefoot.
The breathable mesh upper gets a thumbs up. But the newly engineered tongue is the Kinvara 12’s big hit. It’s just 0.2 inches thick, gusseted, and perforated for better airflow and comfort. No more hotspots on the bridge of the foot!
- PWRRUN foam cushioning
- 4mm heel drop
- Thin, perforated, gusseted tongue
- Lightweight and breathable
- The outsole stiffens up in the cold, making the shoe less responsive
2. Hoka One One Mach 4
Forefoot strikers who need extra underfoot protection would benefit from the cushioning the Hoka One One Mach 4 offers. They also come in a variety of colors, some more muted and some bright and eye-catching.
Hoka’s ProFly midsole uses a dual-layer foam to provide both comfortable cushioning and unusually energetic rebound. The top layer of foam is light and soft, and gives you that true Hoka feeling of running on clouds. Below it, a rubberized foam is peppy and gives you a pleasant bouncy feel when walking or running.
An early-stage meta-rocker adds to the smoothness and responsiveness of this shoe.
Other pro features include an anatomically-designed Achilles collar, made to reduce pressure on the sensitive area; a rubberized EVA outsole for light ground contact; an elf-ear heel tab, and Hoka’s usual wide platform and toe box for comfort.
Oh, and this shoe is also a vegan product! They do fit tight, so if you’re worried about it being uncomfortable on your foot, going half a size up may be a good idea.
- Early-stage meta-rocker
- PROFLY midsole
- Anatomical elf-ear tab
- 5mm heel drop
- Those familiar with the Mach 3 may dislike the taller ankle collar
Best Zero Drop
3. Altra Torin 6
Although forefoot strikers naturally have a forward lean when they run, not all of them like a shoe with a high heel-to-toe drop! If you’re a zero-drop kinda runner, this is our choice for the best zero-drop shoe for forefoot strikers.
It’s been awarded the APMA (American Podiatric Medical Association) Seal of Acceptance. This means it’s been evaluated and found to promote good foot health!
Not only is it a zero-drop shoe, but it also has the classic Altra FootShape toe box. A large toe box is beneficial for forefoot strikers, giving the toes plenty of room to breathe and preventing (to a degree) the unfortunate runner’s malady of black toenail.
The Torin 6 has a luxurious Quantic foam midsole, with InnerFlex grooves running through it to promote flexibility. On top of this, Perf-X insoles are light and well-ventilated, with a premium 5mm sculpted footbed offering an element of stability.
The outsole features FootPod technology, which is anatomically designed to move with the tendons and bones in your feet for a more natural, comfortable, and responsive ride.
Ultra-light knit uppers keep your feet cool, dry, and comfy all day. A lightly cushioned tongue and ankle collar add extra comfort and flat laces reduce hotspots and pressure points across the top of the foot.
The women’s version of the Torin 6 uses Fit4Her tech. This caters to the female foot structure by reducing the width of the midfoot and heel and lengthening the arch. It also has different metatarsal spacing so the FootPod technology will be effective for women’s feet too.
The only possible downside is that the 28mm stack height may be too high for some runners. If the added height makes you pronate more than usual, it can lead to ankle and foot pain. If not rectified, this could result in more serious injuries.
- FootShape toe box
- APMA Seal of Acceptance
- Quantic foam midsole
- FootPod technology
- The high stack height may cause some to pronate due to instability
4. Topo Athletic Magnifly 3
The Topo Athletic Magnifly 3 is another zero-drop shoe. It’s classed as an everyday road running shoe, and its impressive cushioning has earned it our “most comfortable” rating.
There’s nothing unusually fancy about their midsole. It’s made from dual-density EVA foam, with the layer closest to your foot being soft and cushy, and the layer underneath offering firmness and support.
The anti-compression Ortholite footbed offers protection against the flattening that inevitably happens to the cushioning in shoes. It also has antimicrobial treatment so will help prevent odors that result from bacteria growing in moist conditions.
A full-length rubber outsole also makes these shoes safe for use on all surfaces, offering good grip even in wet or smooth conditions. Its toe-rocker design creates even more propulsion for forefoot strikers.
An updated mesh upper wraps comfortably around your foot, light enough to be worn for speedwork and yet durable enough for many miles of wear. A molded foam collar makes these shoes comfy up top as well as on your soles.
An extra-wide anatomical toe box provides improved balance, more powerful toe-offs, and a natural and pain-free toe position.
- Dual-density EVA midsole
- Molded foam collar
- Zero-drop platform
- Anti-compression Ortholite footbed
- Runs about half a size too small
5. New Balance Fresh Foam More V3
If breathability is one of your most important running shoe considerations, the NewBalance Fresh Foam More V3 is highly recommended. Everything about these shoes looks breathable, with every component from the upper to the outsole being perforated.
The engineered mesh upper is soft and comforting on the foot. It’s well-perforated enough to facilitate great airflow when you’re on the move, so your feet shouldn’t overheat at all when wearing these.
Like all New Balance shoes, this one has a wide, stable platform and a roomy toe box, ideal for forefoot strikers’ comfort. The 4mm heel drop reduces pressure on the toes, especially during the foot strike.
The sole is noticeably larger than most NewBalance shoe models. This is a combo of the Fresh Foam midsole cushioning, which is ample and plush. It’s one of NB’s maximum cushion shoes, and offers protection from jarring and comfort with every step.
Despite its cushioning, the shoe remains lightweight. It’s ideal for runners who want softness underfoot but don’t need a huge amount of responsiveness.
- Highly breathable engineered mesh upper
- Roomy, comfortable toe box
- Heel to toe drop of 4mm
- Fresh Foam midsole cushioning
- Not as responsive as others
Best Wide Toe Box
6. Topo Athletic Ultrafly 3
A wide toe box is a necessity for forefoot strikers. While black toenails and bruised toes are an inevitable part of being a runner, a spacious toe box reduces those painful occurrences by quite a lot.
In particular, this running shoe adds extra space by the pinky toe, which also reduces nasty chafing that can lead to blisters. The more roomy toe box is noticeable but doesn’t give the shoe too much of a bulbous look.
Despite the wide toe box, these shoes fit snugly in the midfoot, providing support and comfort. A heel-to-toe drop of 5mm reduces forefoot pressure even more.
A light, breathable mesh upper and padded tongue and collar make the shoe feel comfortable and snug. A traditional lace-up closure allows you to get a tight fit without squishing the toes.
Runners who need a little extra stability will benefit from the EVA medial post in this midsole. The Zip Foam midsole is somewhat more bouncy than EVA, which reinforces the supportive nature of the medial post while providing a nice energy return.
A removable Ortholite footbed, odor-control tech, and a rubber outsole with good traction and durability add to the quality of this shoe.
Although this does offer great room in the toe box area, don’t be fooled into thinking it would automatically be a good choice for wide feet. The midfoot area may be a touch too snug for runners with wide feet.
- EVA medial post
- 5mm heel-to-toe drop
- Zip Foam midsole
- Spacious toe box
- Despite the wide toe box, the midfoot may not be roomy enough for runners with wide feet
Top Racing Shoe
7. Newton Gravity 10
The Newton Gravity 10 is not only a great racing shoe, but it’s also an excellent option for runners who are environmentally conscious. The shoes are made from recycled, biodegradable materials and are vegan, so they’re suitable for every kind of runner.
They also use a gender-tuned fit technology to make sure the men’s design caters to a man’s foot structure and the women’s for a female foot. This automatically offers a new level of comfort, based on anatomical features.
Features that make it an excellent racing shoe include an advanced lacing system that allows for a more secure fit, an anatomically-designed seamless air mesh upper, and a Performance Action Reaction technology package in the outsole.
This unique technology package consists of a full foot’s worth of Newtonium cushioning in the midsole, a comfortable HyLyte insole with an extra cushion layer, and strategically-placed flex grooves to mirror the movement of your foot so the shoe moves with you naturally.
- Gender-tuned fit
- 3-D-engineered air mesh upper
- Full-length Newtonium cushion
- Made from recycled & biodegradable materials
- The thick tongue may cause a pressure point
Best Lightweight Shoe
8. Skechers GOrun Speed Elite Hyper
Runners who are looking for a super lightweight shoe will find the GOrun Speed Elite Hyper to be a great option. It’s a racing flat designed by sneaker giant Skechers, and weighs just under 6 ounces, which is incredibly light for a running shoe.
The mono-mesh upper is thin but supportive. It’s a ripstop-type material that offers some structure as well as keeping the foot bathed in air.
Despite its lightness, there’s a good amount of Hyper Burst cushion. But the true wonder of this shoe is in the carbon-infused winglet plate in the forefoot.
Forefoot strikers will get the best effect out of this technology, finding exceptional energy return as well as an element of extra stability. This plate is the reason the shoe is unusually light without sacrificing responsiveness.
A Goodyear rubber outsole offers exceptional traction on a variety of wet, dry, and smooth surfaces.
- Carbon-infused forefoot plate
- Hyper Burst midsole
- Mono-mesh upper
- Goodyear rubber outsole
- The toe box is not as wide as the other shoes on this list
Top Stability Shoe
9. On Cloudflyer
Forefoot strikers who overpronate and need a stability shoe will find that the On Cloudflyer offers all you need in a running shoe. Its eye-catching design is modern and sleek, and it’s packed with some useful technologies too.
A midfoot stability tube provides strong support on the medial side of the shoe, stopping your foot from falling over. This significantly decreases the chance of injury.
The newly engineered mesh upper is light and has been redesigned to optimize airflow. Extra external support at the heel prevents side-to-side movement.
A Speedboard in the midsole is designed to counteract impact and convert it into forward acceleration. It provides something called “torsional rigidity”, which essentially prevents the foot from rolling over when you step.
The midsole is made from Zero-Gravity EVA, also known as Helion Superfoam. This offers a combo of soft landing and explosive push-offs for a well-rounded running experience.
Under the shoe, honeycombed cloud pods cushion your every step. They help disperse the impact evenly across the foot reducing the chance of injuries due to jarring. Underneath these pods is a layer of CloudTec rubber, which provides excellent traction, which is particularly useful for less stable runners on slippery surfaces.
The only downside we can find to this shoe is that the durable rubber layer underneath is rather thin in comparison to other shoes’ outsoles. If you’re putting a lot of miles on these shoes, they may wear through the honeycomb pattern too quickly for your liking.
- Helion Superfoam midsole
- Cloud pods for cushioning
- Midfoot stability tube
- Engineered mesh upper
- Less durable due to the non-solid design of the outsole
Best Energy Return
10. Saucony Freedom 4
Energy return is an important thing no matter what kind of foot striker you are. The Freedom 4 is built to benefit forefoot strikers in terms of energy return, though.
It’s lightweight, at just 7.5 ounces, and has a heel drop of 4mm. The PWRRUN PB cushioning is classed as being light, but it packs a punch in terms of energy return.
It’s instantly noticeable on the road, keeping your legs feeling fresh for miles thanks to its bounce and snappiness.
Runners who prefer soft, plush cushion underfoot may not like the Freedom 4.
The wide base offers a good bit of stability. Saucony is also known for their comfortably spacious toe boxes.
Other great features include a super comfy suede tongue, a durable rubber outsole that wraps up to add stability to the midfoot, and suede overlays on the toe and heel.
- PWRRUN PB cushioning
- Suede tongue
- Slightly wider base
- Hidden reflectivity
- May lack softness for some runners
Not sure why choosing the best running for forefoot strikers is important? Here’s some more info to help you understand and make the best decision for your feet!
What is the Forefoot of a Shoe?
The name says it all! The forefoot is the front part of the shoe, just under the toes. It’s also known as the ball of the foot.
Both the upper and the sole have a forefoot section. When we talk about forefoot strikers and why it’s important to wear the right shoes, we’re mostly talking about the sole.
This is the first part of the shoe to hit the ground when a forefoot striker walks or runs.
Is Running on Toes Better?
Every type of “strike” has its benefits and its disadvantages. Forefoot striking is not as common as heel striking, but it has some advantages.
Forefoot striking creates a natural forward lean when you run. You’re also in contact with the ground for less time as your natural momentum propels you forward faster. This can give an extra burst of speed which may give you a slight advantage over short distances.
For long distances, forefoot striking can put extra strain on the calves and ankles. But if you run naturally on your forefoot, simply taking good care of your calves, Achilles, shins, and ankles can help you reap the benefits of forefoot running.
If you’re a heel striker, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong. But heel strikers tend to be more prone to repetitive injury than forefoot strikers.
If you wish to transition from heel striking to a more neutral or forefoot strike, taking some simple but consistent steps can help change your strike.
Do Forefoot Running Shoes Have Cushioning?
Forefoot running shoes are often minimalist type shoes. They don’t always have a lot of cushioning, because your heel and midfoot don’t make a hard impact on the ground. So they don’t need the same amount of cushioning as heel strikers do.
Some of the best running shoes for forefoot strikers do offer decent cushioning throughout the shoe, though. In the end, it’s up to you which appeals most to you.