One of the things that sets a maximalist running shoe apart from other running shoes is its bulky exterior. However, there is more to it than just its appearance. Modeled after the idea of oversized tennis rackets, full-suspension mountain bikes, and oversized skis, the shoe is abundant on cushioning; hence, the chunky look.
The luxurious midsole cushioning of the maximalist shoe aims to decrease the energy needed to go the distance. Despite the bulky facade of the shoe, its weight is quite the contrary. It retains a low weight-to-cushion ratio feature for a more efficient ride. This basically prevents foot fatigue from setting in which can result in pronation as the runner’s form collapses after a long period of running. It is also known for having better shock attenuation and stability properties.
Several podiatrists, healthcare professionals who tend to foot conditions and ailments, say that the maximalist shoe enables athletes to perform without having to change their gait, regardless if they are a forefoot or midfoot striker. Additionally, this shoe is very helpful when it comes to metatarsal problems. It helps eliminate the bend across the metatarsophalangeal joints that could cause pain when running.
History of the maximalist running shoes
Back in 2010, a pair of former Salomon employees and avid mountain runners, Nicolas Mermoud and Jean-Luc Diard founded Hoka One One and immediately gained notoriety for introducing a model with an oversized midsole featuring twice as much cushioning as other shoes. It was opposing the minimalist shoe trend which was at its peak. The model is later termed as a “maximalist” shoe.
The warm reception of the maximalist shoe has initially been mostly from ultramarathon runners who admired its cushioning and its inherent stability. What sold it to other runners and people outside the running community was the maximum cushion it offered and its lightweight structure. Other brands like Altra, Vasque, New Balance, Adidas, Brooks and more were quick to join the bandwagon. Nowadays, these brands add their own technology to tweak the well-loved maximalist shoe. One example of the latest maximalist shoes packed with innovative technologies is the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%.
What to consider when looking for in maximalist running shoe
- Stack height. It refers to the amount of material between your foot and the ground. Maximalist running shoes usually have more than 30mm stack height in both the heel and the forefoot. This basically absorbs the impact as the foot hits the ground- aiding in shock attenuation. This generous cushioning also presents maximum comfort to the foot.
- Fit. Any good running shoe poses conformity to the shape of the foot. The maximalist running shoe is no exception. Since it is designed to push the runner’s foot upward, a good and secure wrap around the foot keeps it in place and intact. It also eliminates the possibility of any slippage or ankle rolling that could cause injury. An irritation-free experience can also be expected with a pair of excellent fitting maximalist shoes.
- Stride efficiency. One of the promised benefits of the maximalist running shoe is the efficient stride it offers. Contrary to popular belief, maximalist shoes do not change your gait cycle. In fact, they even put your foot in a more natural position which results in a faster and more efficient stride with less energy.
Top brands producing maximalist running shoes
Hoka One One
Being the pioneer in the craft of making maximalist running shoes, Hoka One One boasts a lightweight and plush ride. The brand is known for utilizing advanced technologies to yield the best outcomes from the shoe. This includes superb protection, low drop position to encourage midfoot strike, exceptional stability by employing higher sidewalls and an efficient toe-off with the utilization of the brand’s well-known Meta-Rocker technology.
Maximalist running shoes from Altra are equipped to provide a more natural foot positioning while supplying maximum comfort to the foot. The low heel-to-toe drop of the shoe encourages low impact running method. The brand also keeps an eye on the stability offered by its maximalist shoe. The design philosophy of their shoes usually includes the brand’s Natural Ride System that helps in proper foot mechanics by producing metatarsal-specific shapes.
Featuring its proprietary midsole foam and carbon plate, Nike features a plush and comfortable ride from its maximalist running shoe. The midsole component of the shoe also accentuates the responsiveness it delivers. Equipped with lightweight materials in order to avoid excess weight, the shoe delivers a lightweight ride. Because of its features, the shoe also helps increase the efficiency of the ride with minimum efforts being put in.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a maximalist running shoe exclusive for ultrarunners?
No. Ultrarunners may have been the niche of the maximalist running shoe for a time, but it’s definitely not constructed exclusively for them. The shoe aids runners- recreational and elite alike- when it comes to having a more plush and effortless long-distance running experience. The shoe is also acknowledged for alleviating pain especially for those with foot injuries and conditions. That is why some podiatrists recommend it to their patients who still want to keep an active lifestyle.
Are maximalist running shoes the opposite of minimalist running shoes?
Not necessarily. Although the facade of each maximalist and minimalist running shoe make it seem like they are very opposing, a lot of the components and features of the maximalist shoe are taken after the minimalist running shoe. One of these includes the integration of lightweight materials into the shoe’s design in order to deliver a lightweight ride. The shoe also employs a low to moderate heel-toe offsets to encourage a midfoot strike.