Today we’re going to be reviewing 12 best running shoes for Hallux Rigidus, aka arthritis in the big toe for men and women in 2021.
When it comes to running shoes for Hallux Rigidus, you should preferably look for:
- Stiff running shoes with a stiff forefoot rocker to help roll but not bend your toes.
- Shoes that don’t flex too much in the forefoot to prevent your big toe from bending too much as you’re running.
The shoes we’re going to review today are going to keep you moving properly through the front of your foot without putting too much pressure on the big toe joint itself.
Let’s dive right into it…
Quick comparison of the 4 best running shoes for Hallux Rigidus
Hoka One One Bondi
|4mm Drop||5mm Drop|
|Engineered mesh upper||Engineered mesh+ 3D Print|
|Stiff rocker midsole||Stiff rocker midsole|
|Rubber outsole||AHAR+ outsole|
|5mm Drop||4mm Drop|
|Streamlined mesh upper|| |
Well-ventilated and thin mesh
|Stiff rocker midsole||Stiff rocker midsole|
|Rubber outsole||Rubber + EVA outsole|
Best Hoka Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
1. Hoka Clifton 8
What makes the Clifton 8 feel more efficient than other daily trainers is its rocker-shaped midsole. Its high toe spring makes transitions feel quicker because it rolls you forward and it saves you energy during long runs. This feature is really good for Hallux Rigidus and the toe box is not restricting to arthritis in the big toe.
So, if you’re a runner looking for a highly cushioned versatile daily trainer to help with your Hallux Rigidus issues, the Clifton 8 is the perfect shoe for you.
The Clifton 8 is a big update coming with a brand-new upper, midsole, and outsole, and it feels more versatile and snappier than the previous versions.
Nobyn from Amazon says Hokas are the solution for Hallux Rigidus. Read his review.
For those unfamiliar with the brand, Hoka makes maximum cushioned running shoes that provide comfort, unparalleled shock absorption, and impact protection.
The Clifton is a max cushion trainer that you’re going to enjoy for your easy and recovery days especially when your legs are feeling sore or tired. It uses a brand-new foam which is still compression-molded EVA, but it’s a bit lighter than the previous version. The density of this new foam now feels like the perfect balance of soft and firm.
This thick stack has ample cushioning for a full marathon. It also doesn’t overly compress, which means it doesn’t feel like you’re fighting with the shoe over long distances.
On the heel section, there are now only two vertical sidewall grooves compared to three on the Clifton 7. This change makes the heel compress less during heel strikes and it results in a firmer more versatile ride.
I was really surprised at how much more versatile the Clifton 8 feels over the Clifton 7. The 8 is really easy to pick up the pace because the midsole isn’t overly soft. Also, the rocker geometry allows for a smooth transition from heel to toe decreasing impact forces and encouraging a more efficient and comfortable footstrike.
At the end of the run, your legs are going to feel fresh because of the high level of cushioning and smoother heel-to-toe transition.
Here’s a more detailed comparison of the Hoka Clifton 7 vs 8.
Proper Foot Alignment
Every now and then, you kind of run improperly and the Clifton will push you back into that proper footstrike. You can run a lot of miles in the Hoka and you’re not going to break down.
Sometimes, highly cushioned shoes feel a little bit lethargic and slow but not the Clifton. It just feels quick and super-lightweight.
The outsole is a combination of rubber placed over high-wear areas for better durability and traction. There’s also some exposed EVA to help keep the weight down.
Compared to the Clifton 7, the outsole of the Clifton 8 has a little bit more rubber, which means the durability is slightly better. The forefoot outsole design also changes the ride because, on the Clifton 8, the lugs and the grooves are arranged in a diagonal pattern compared to a horizontal pattern on the Clifton 7. This results in a stiff running shoe and a stiffer forefoot and a snappier ride, which is good for Hallux Rigidus.
When it comes to the upper, the biggest change is that the tongue is now slightly more padded than before. This makes it more comfortable but it also increases the weight just a little bit. The tongue is still gusseted and so there’s no lateral tongue slide.
As for fit, I think that most runners will have to opt for the wide version of the shoe because the standard D width has such a narrow fit.
The inside lining has been changed to a shiny smooth material, which makes the shoe feel more premium. The lining reminds me a bit of the Glycerin and the Ghost which are also very premium-feeling shoes.
Overall, the Clifton 8 has a very similar ride to the Clifton 7. However, it has a more comfortable upper and greater versatility because its forefoot is stiffer, which makes it feel snappier.
Over the past months, many softer shoes have entered the market like the Nike Invincible and the New Balance Rebel v2. The Hoka Clifton doesn’t feel as soft anymore. So, instead of using it for easy and recovery runs, the Clifton 8 is a great daily trainer because it feels much more versatile than before.
Last but not least, this amount of cushion and support also makes the Clifton 8 one of the best running shoes for ball-of-foot pain.
If you’re into Hoka shoes, we’ve also compared the Hoka Clifton and the Bondi below.
- Runs warm.
Related: Do Hokas Run Big or Small?
2. Hoka Bondi 7
Recommended by most podiatrists, the Bondi 7 is one of the best running shoes for Hallux Rigidus and turf toe. It will provide support, stability, cush, and rocker to make your heel-to-toe transitions as smooth as possible.
Trying to flex the thick midsole of the Bondi 7, it is really stiff and even much stiffer than the Clifton, which, again, makes it one of the best stiff-soled running shoes for Hallux Rigidus.
So, if you want a firm more stable ride, get the Bondi 7. But if you want a little bit of a softer ride, the cheaper Clifton 7 is a better max cushion trainer.
The Bondi is also great or those full days on your feet covering long distances. It’s also one of the best shoes for people who stand on their feet all day long.
This Amazon customer says she has Hallux Rigidus and the Bondi is the only shoe she can run in. Read her review.
Early Stage Meta Rocker
The best thing about the Bondi 7 from a Hallux Rigidus standpoint is the meta rocker technology. So instead of flexing in the forefoot, the shoe rolls you through transitions improving efficiency.
So, Hoka have refined the rocker geometry for a smoother ride and quicker toe-off making every stride more efficient so you can put more mileage with every run.
The oversized midsole and thick stack heights provide a ride that no other brand can match. The Bondi is Hoka’s most cushioned running shoe to date and the shoe kept the same good old-fashioned EVA. However, the midsole is no longer that super-soft cushioning setup. Its medium-firm density makes it more versatile, but it ends up making the shoe feel more like a daily trainer than a max cushioned one.
So, I found this midsole to be a bit too firm for recovery days and even too firm for long runs, but middle distance is where the Bondi shines. Runners enjoy the Bondi because of its responsive cushioning that just offers a high level of shock absorption and makes your feet feel a lot better.
One thing that I noticed about the Bondi 7’s midsole is that it performs very differently in different climates. The Bondi feels much firmer in cold runs than it feels when humidity and heat are much higher.
Although the oversized midsole looks unstable, the Bondi 7 is very stable because of the cradle design and high sidewalls. Your feet don’t sit on the midsole but in the midsole.
The outsole features strategically placed rubber to provide more coverage while still being lightweight and durable. It also features a beveled heel for smoother transitions. Overall, the small tweaks on the outsole should enhance the underfoot feel and create an even smoother ride.
Rubber durability is acceptable but it’s not close to the durability of Continental or AHAR+ rubber. But the traction is excellent on roads, pavements, grass, and gravel in both wet and dry conditions.
Some of the elements Hoka wanted to build into the upper are very comfort-based. Hoka also built in very soft materials in the heel making the shoe wrap around the heel very comfortably. Hoka says that the new memory foam collar was designed to accommodate narrower heels and I find that to be true.
The tongue is not gusseted but it has wide wings which hold it in place so that no tongue slide occurs. The Clifton 8 does have a gusseted tongue and it’s cheaper than the Bondi 7 if you want to save some bucks.
The Bondi 7 fits very narrow and the average person will have to get the wide version. The height of the toe box is fine, but the width is a bit narrow.
The Bondi 7 has good foot lockdown, a stable ride, and a durable outsole. Its meta rocker geometry helps make transitions feel efficient and the shoe has plenty of stability features.
However, the Bondi 7 is supposed to be a long-distance max cushion trainer, but it doesn’t fall into the category it was meant to be in. For me, the Bondi 7 fits more into the daily trainer category.
- Snug forefoot.
Best New Balance Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
3. New Balance More v3
New Balance is bringing so much amazing footwear in 2021 and the More is going to be a great addition to your running shoe rotation.
The More features New Balance’s thickest midsole yet and it actually offers more support in the forefoot area, which makes it one of the best shoes for Hallux Rigidus. The More v3 is going to be your go-to shoe when you’re just pounding out the miles when you’re going long on the road.
With so much stack height, we don’t expect the More to be a fast shoe. I see this as an everyday running shoe for someone that wants a shoe that adds max cushioning. The More is also a great running shoe for heavy runners.
New Balance did a ton of fact-finding on exactly how they wanted that midsole setup to be. They looked at exactly what compounds they felt would make the biggest difference in this max cushioning space.
New Balance are using their newest Fresh Foam X compound. As you may know, Fresh Foam comes in slightly different forms, some softer, some firmer, some in the middle. Regardless, the Fresh Foam More has more of it.
What’s important when you’re thinking about max cushioning and the level of softness is making sure that the shoe has the right width in terms of that overall platform to provide you with the level of stability that you need in a really soft shoe.
What really stands out about the More is how soft it is and how smooth it feels as you go through your gait. Part of that is because of the additional rocker that they’ve added to the More v3.
…which brings us to…
So, New Balance changed the rocker profile on the More v3 to provide a greater rocker sensation, which I think has made a real massive difference. When we talk about the More, so much of the benefit is coming from the cushioning and that max stack height.
But that feeling of constant momentum is maybe something that you might have felt like was lacking in the previous models and it’s definitely something that they’ve added into this iteration.
The new geometry helps with the nimble nature and it makes the shoe just feel a little bit more progressive and a little bit more interesting directly underfoot while maintaining all the benefits of maximum cushioning.
The outsole features New Balance’s ground contact foam that is very lightweight. It offers great traction on roads and gravel paths. New Balance also beveled out the heel part to aid in shock absorption when you heel strike and then go to toe-off.
The More keeps things relatively simple with a nice and breathable engineered mesh upper. The upper has minimal overlays and an additional midfoot lockdown mechanism, which makes getting that lockdown simple enough. Your feet are going to be locked down with plenty of toe splay for those who like more room.
The tongue kind of keeps that slightly less padded style like the Fresh Foam 1080. It has enough padding for long-term comfort, but not too much to where your foot feels suffocated.
Related: New Balance Fresh Foam More vs 1080
Underneath the tongue, it’s actually opened up a bit to give you some added breathability. The ankle collar has that standard nylon inner lining that you see on most New Balance shoes.
New Balance did add some foam pods near the Achilles and others on the side as well. I honestly think that you should try the shoe on for some time and pay closer attention to how these foam pods feel against your feet. If you find that they support your Achilles and ankles without causing any issues, then that’s definitely going to be a great addition for you.
Overall, with the More 1, it’s never quite been where I personally wanted it. But now with the new v2 and v3 versions, the whole brand has been completely elevated.
- A bit heavy.
Best Asics Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
4. Asics GlideRide 2
If you’re not familiar with the GlideRide series, the GlideRide is one of the best running shoes with stiff soles and a curved forefoot design. While this might seem like an unlikely combination to have in a running shoe and while the Glideride isn’t going to be every runner’s cup of tea, it’s particularly attractive to runners with Hallux Rigidus.
Jaquobi says the Glideride is perfect for Hallux Rigidus. Read his review.
Although the GlideRide has this curved design, the cushioning that your foot sits on is fairly flat. So, it’s just the bottom area of the sole that is curved. What this rigid rounded sole does is reduce how much your ankles and toes need to flex in order to propel you forward.
The curvature also allows your foot to use more of its own momentum to propel you forward while the stiffened forefoot reduces the amount of movement that occurs at your metatarsal phalangeal joint. The result of all of this is that your ankle and all the tendons and muscles around it end up performing less work and undergoing less loading forces.
With its well-cushioned profile, the Glideride keeps shock absorption and comfort in mind. You can use the GlideRide for your long and easy runs and I think this is the sweet spot for this shoe.
Related: Asics GlideRide vs Evoride
What it can do
The GlideRide 2 is built up with all the things you need to make a high mileage shoe and that’s a durable midsole, a protective outer rubber outsole, and a well-constructed upper.
I’ve done some up-tempo runs in the shoe. But while it can double around my marathon and half marathon pace, it’s not designed for that short and snappy stride that you associate with faster running.
In terms of versatility, the GlideRide is pretty focused in what it can do. If you have more than one pair of shoes, you could rotate the GlideRide with another speed-orientated shoe like the Saucony Endorphin Speed to cover your training.
GlideRide 1 vs 2
What’s nice about the GlideRide 2 is that it’s a really solid update from the GlideRide 1. The big change from the GlideRide 1 to the GlideRide 2 is the upper. The original GlideRide felt a little constricting and snug and the material didn’t have that give. The upper also felt hot and it just felt like it didn’t breathe that great.
Asics seem to have fixed that with the GlideRide 2. The toe box is seamless, it feels a little flexible, and it just feels it’s going to be an overall better fit for people. So if you have a little bit of a wider foot, you should be ok.
The shoe’s wide base and the geometry of the midsole really helps bounce you and push you back in taking a lot of pressure off your hips and knees.
The other thing I like about the GlideRide 2 is that it’s got a nice solid heel counter and a plastic plate within the shoe that all hold the foot together nicely especially as you fatigue towards the end of a long run.
So Asics have polished up the upper, made the midsole more stable, and also made sure the transition underfoot is smoother than ever.
Even though there are brands like Hoka that have done this first, I think the GlideRide is the one that did it best. So, the Glideride is a max cushion neutral shoe for somebody who wants some longer miles. When you put it on, its rocker platform just provides a smooth and efficient roll from your heel to your toe.
- Feels clunky when picking up the pace.
Related: Do Asics Run Big or Small?
5. Asics Gel Kayano 27
Designed to create a smooth and cushioned ride, the Asics Gel Kayano 27 has become the blueprint for core runners seeking stability and premium comfort.
It is a great shoe for overpronators, which means if your foot lands on the outside of your heel and then rolls inward too much, the Kayano will guide your foot back to its natural position.
The forefoot Gel technology cushioning is strategically placed to increase shock absorption, improve comfort, and support your big toe joint.
I would recommend this shoe for beginners and for regular runners who train and race. For more advanced runners, the Kayano is a great workhorse to complement your training efforts. To help overpronators stabilize their landing and get a more efficient toe-off, the Dynamic DuoMax technology is placed inside the shoe just for that.
Midsole & Stability
The Kayano compares to some higher-level stability trainers like the Gaviota, the Wave Horizon, the Transcend, and the Hurricane.
Asics is using two foam materials. There’s FlyteFoam Lyte on the bottom and FlyteFoam Propel on the top. The top layer is a responsive layer while the bottom layer is a cushioning layer. This is why you have all the cushiony foam in the back of the shoe where most people land and you have the responsive foam in the front where people push off.
One small change to the foam cushioning is they’ve added a little bit of Gel along with the foam in the forefoot to give it a little bit more spring and bounce.
There’s a more segmented heel design that improves cushioning at footstrike while the lower density FlyteFoam Propel midsole increases shock absorption throughout the runner’s gait. This material is softer in the women’s model to accommodate the biomechanical differences in various body types.
The Impact Guidance System (IGS) is a design philosophy that links specific technologies within the Gel Kayano 27. The first stage of IGS occurs when the Gel technology cushioning is engaged in the heel to reduce shock from impact.
The Guidance Line is designed to decrease the rate of pronation while helping your feet move more consistently throughout your stride. The Dynamic DuoMax support system guides the runner’s foot through their stride and reduces the foot’s pronounced inward role creating a smooth transition at the flat foot stage.
Outsole & Stability
The tread on the outsole is a little more aggressive and there’s a little bit more rubber in the big toe area for more support. The outsole features Asics High Abrasion Rubber which is one of the most durable outsole materials out there.
In the outsole, there’s a Trusstic system which is this really firm thermoplastic piece that sits right in the middle. What that does is it holds and allows for the forefoot and the heel to move kind of independently of each other giving the shoe flexibility while also providing the stability that you need.
Related: Asics Kayano vs Nimbus
Upper & Stability
There’s a new engineered mesh and the shoe has become a little bit more stylish in my opinion. The breathability is there when you need it and there’s no overlays and no points of irritation.
One big thing about the upper is it has an Exoskeleton heel counter. That along with the Trusstic and the DuoMax support systems is going to really hold your foot in.
Overall, it just seems like they’ve taken those small little not-so-great things about the shoe and they’ve really done small changes to improve them.
The Kayano really is a shoe that has two distinct personalities. You’ve got the solid stable heel/midfoot part with the Trusstic and the DuoMax and then you’ve got the really springy flexible forefoot. This makes for incredibly smooth transitions and toe-offs.
The Kayano is one of Asics’ best-selling stability trainers. Obviously, it’s been around for 27 years and so it has some tried and true technologies that people just keep coming back to.
This is a great shoe if you want a comfortable and supportive running shoe that can help you start running or even finish a marathon.
Last but not least, the Gel Kayano 27 is one of the best running shoes for high arches and Achilles tendonitis thanks to its wide toe box and Achilles support. It’s also going to be a great shoe for health professionals and people who are on their feet for extended periods of time working 10 to 12-hour shifts.
6. Asics GT 2000 9
The GT 2000 9 is the mid-tier stability offering from Asics. It sits right underneath the Kayano and right above the GT 1000.
One thing I did notice that was quite different from the 2000s to the Kayanos is there’s an absence of FlyteFoam Propel cushioning in the GT 2000. This makes the ride a little bit stiffer, which is even better for Hallux Rigidus.
You are not going to go wrong if you need stability because the GT 2000 is going to hold your feet in place securely and provide that stability that you may need. Comparing the Asics GT 2000 9 to the Asics 1000, I would recommend the 1000 only if you are more kind of a budget runner.
Kristie says the GT 2000 is one of the best running shoes for arthritis in big toe. Read her review.
Midsole & Stability
There’s the gel cushioning strategically placed in the back and you also find some gel in the forefoot to give you a little bit more bounce.
The thing that works with the Trusstic shank is the Dynamic DuoMax which is actually dual-density foam. So with the Trusstic system and the Dynamic DuoMax, you’re going to get a real secure feeling.
A lot of people say it’s an old-school approach to stability especially when you see a lot of brands out there evolving and trying new stability technologies. But Asics knows what works for the GT 2000 and so they keep using this system year after year just like the Mizuno Wave Inspire.
Outsole & Trusstic
Asics has one of the most durable materials for their outsole and this thing is going to last you a long time. The outsole is covered in Asics High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR+). We’ve got regular blown rubber up in the forefoot and then some more durable carbon rubber in the heel for impact. So we’ve got that hard rubber when you land and that soft rubber up-front.
Along the outsole, there’s the Asics Trusstic system that hasn’t changed from previous editions. The Trusstic system is very secure and it really holds your foot in place and allows for the heel and forefoot areas to kind of move independently of each other.
Not much has changed in the upper. They’ve updated the material but it’s still a multi-directional engineered mesh. They’ve improved the fit and feel of it and it’s a very flexible yet durable fabric.
This mesh feels and looks really great on foot. We noticed the outside toe box reinforcement is now underneath the mesh to just allow for a more accommodating fit through the toe box.
The true strength of the upper, in my opinion, is the heel cushioning system. The GT 2000 9 has ample cushioning on the heel collar to really hug that heel and ankle. The heel clutching system really holds it in place and works in tandem with the Trusstic and the DuoMax to add to the stability of the shoe.
Overall, the upper is the strength of the shoe. It’s a comfortable fit, it’s flexible, it’s breathable, and the heel clutching system especially is nice to hold your foot into place. Last but not least, the GT 2000 is a reliable shoe, it’s durable, and it’s going to last you mile after mile after mile.
Last but not least, the GT 2000 9 is one of the best running shoes with a reinforced toe box.
- Lack of energy return.
Best Saucony Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
7. Saucony Endorphin Shift
The key element that makes the Endorphin Shift great for runners with Hallux Rigidus is Saucony is using a thick stack with a stiff forefoot geometry to create that speed roll effect.
The thick stack provides a premium level of cushioning but at the same time, you get a responsive faster feel through that geometry and that stiff forefoot.
But how does the Shift provide this amount of stiffness without using a carbon plate?
The Shift has got a thick layer of PWRRUN foam and then they create stiffness through the forefoot as well as reduce the number of flex grooves in the forefoot of the shoe so you get that stiffness inherently through the foam and through the geometry.
Elle says loves how the Shift rolls her toes instead of bending them. Read here review.
Saucony has always been a leader in the cushioned segment of everyday running shoes. The opportunity with the Endorphin collection was to engineer something for the athletes and then find a way to optimize it for the everyday consumer.
If the Endorphin Pro is all about race day and the Endorphin Speed is about your speed day, your workouts, and your tempo runs, the Endorphin Shift is really that shift and mindset of how they deliver speed and efficiency for everyday runs, for easy runs, and for recovery runs.
This shoe uses Saucony’s PWRRUN material which is their highest-grade EVA blend. It’s an EVA that has very high energy return scores for an EVA material so you get a nice bounce and a nice pop to it. So, for anyone that’s looking for premium cushion but wants to feel fast, the Shift is the answer.
One of the unique things with the Endorphin Shift is it’s a 4-millimeter offset. So, the Shift is designed so you sit lower in the heel, which creates a little bit more inherent stability. If you’re a neutral runner, this shoe is going to work perfect for you. But if you need a touch of stability and a little bit of guidance, the Shift also has got you covered on the medial side.
Related: Saucony Endorphin Shift vs Speed
On the medial side, Saucony engineered in a little bit of guidance and a little bit of structure on the medial side. You can see that with the rubber on the midsole that wraps up and then the TPU heel clip that dives into the midsole. This creates less torsional movement from lateral to medial.
On the outsole, Saucony is using Their PWRRUN midsole which is optimized for ground contact. Then they support that with carbon rubber in the high-wear areas. This is going to make sure you’re getting the protection and durability where you need it at heel strike and through the midfoot. Also, Saucony reduced the need for overall rubber coverage, which allowed them to deliver a shoe that comes in under 10 ounces.
The upper is constructed with an engineered mesh for breathability with small details designed to provide support in the upper. The tongue has two wings that go down to the Strobel so it really locks you in and gives you a nice amount of support through the midfoot.
Another key attribute is the TPU heel counter that they use. This is obviously designed to provide structure and support in the heel and then just get strategic with it on the medial side so they can have it dive into the midsole to be used as a guidance or support system.
Again, Saucony has built the Endorphin series with their athletes. Then, they wanted to optimize it and engineer it so they could build it for everyday athletes and the Shift is that proof point.
- Firm and not very flexible.
8. Saucony Ride 14
With a wide toe box fit, the Ride 14 is comfortable yet supportive for Hallux Rigidus. This is a neutral trainer that features a considerable stack height and an 8mm drop ideal for marathon and long-distance training.
The Ride is a great shoe you can put on for everyday training to up-tempo work. So, if you’re feeling good and want to pick the pace a little bit, the Ride 14 is the shoe to do that for you.
Saucony made some interesting changes and the Ride features a full-length PWRRUN midsole. Compared to the Ride 13, the Ride 14 gets even snappier. To me, I was surprised at how this shoe can get snappier when it’s already snappy.
Although there’s no medial posting through the midsole, the Ride 14 offers movement control through the heel to guide your foot through your stride.
On the outsole, Saucony is using their really durable blown rubber through the outsole. They’ve also substituted their usual rubber for crystal rubber in the forefoot. The forefoot has TriFlex forefoot bands with wider spacing and deeper grooves between them. This translates to a slightly softer forefoot that’s easier to transition and the shoe is softer overall.
Another thing that they continue using is the FORMFIT technology which gives you a really nice hug through the midfoot so you’re not worried about this shoe moving around your foot. The upper has a very soft and pliable double jacquard mesh design, which makes the Ride 14 far better-fitting than before. Also, The tongue is semi-gusseted for better lockdown.
The heel counter is stout, which is going to lock you in with no side-to-side movement at all as you’re going through your footstrike.
The toe bumper is a little higher which kind of gives your toes much room to splay. This even gives room for people who need a toe box that doesn’t squeeze their hammertoes down.
Overall, the Ride 14 is very plush in the upper and there’s an incredible amount of cushion through the heel counter, ankle collar, and tongue.
- Could be more responsive.
Related: Saucony Ride vs Triumph
9. Saucony Kinvara 12
The Kinvara series has been a fan favorite for years and a staple in Saucony’s neutral running shoe line. It’s lightweight, it’s fast, it’s versatile, and it offers great support for Hallux Rigidus. It really is a shoe that can do it all.
I love the Kinvara 12 for every kind of run from shakeouts to long runs to up-tempo workouts. Also, the versatility of the Kinvara is one of the reasons that I’ll probably always have a pair of these shoes in my rotation.
In the midsole, we’ve got an all-new design, but the 12 is still using PWRRUN in the midsole. PWRRUN made its debut in the Kinvara 11 and Saucony added 5.5mm of stack height to the shoe. The new design is just a little lower to the ground while still retaining that very versatile on-foot experience.
Even though it is just as lightweight and responsive, the midsole feels a bit firmer and it feels a little bit more like a competition shoe than previous models. This is good for people looking for stiffer-soled shoes to offer more support through the forefoot. The shoe also retains the FORMFIT topsole inside the shoe to further enhance that contoured and comfortable fit.
One thing that is different in this shoe than previous versions is the way that the midsole at the back of the heel kind of dovetails out. Supposedly, this design results in more aerodynamic lines when you’re running.
On the outsole, we’ve got a lot of exposed material. The outsole has been stripped of any unneeded rubber and there’s only a little bit of rubber in the heel and forefoot to keep the weight down. It’s still going to retain that flexible design and what you’ve come to know and love in the Kinvara.
Although there’s a lot of exposed EVA through the outsole, the PWRRUN midsole compound is durable and so it’s going to be able to handle the miles just like prior versions of the shoe. However, the Kinvara is obviously going to be less durable than shoes with full-blown rubber outsoles.
Saucony further simplified the Kinvara upper leaving a really lightweight and breathable mesh that wraps the foot. However, the upper has small tweaks to enhance the overall fit and comfort.
Saucony has purposefully gone to a faster appearance. Inspired by the Saucony Endorphin and the success that they’re seeing there, this is going to give that faster look to the runner.
One of the most premium features of the shoe is actually the tongue. The outside is a really soft suede-like material. But on the inside, the tongue is really subtly padded to protect the top of your feet from the laces. It’s also gusseted down both sides to gently hug your foot in place.
As for fit, the Kinvara 12 doesn’t fit quite as snugly as in years past. The toe box is the roomiest of any Kinvara to date and I can say the 12 is about a half size larger than previous models.
Overall, the Kinvara 12 sees some pretty nice updates that I think people are going to be pretty happy about. It is very much in keeping with the lightweight high performing comfort that runners have come to expect from this shoe.
Again, the Kinvara 12 is a natural daily trainer and performance up-tempo running shoe designed for the neutral runner.
- Runs half size larger than previous models.
Best Altra Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
10. Altra Torin 5
The thing I really like about the Torin is the roomy foot-shaped toe box and firm support through the forefoot that runners with Hallux Rigidus have come to know and love.
Again, these are great Hallux Rigidus running shoes for runners who want a zero-drop experience without sacrificing the impact protection of a more conventional everyday running shoe.
Runners love the Altra Torin for training and long runs, especially on roads and hard surfaces. It’s a solid choice if you’re looking to run a marathon or a half marathon as well.
Bluestar says the Torin is one of the best running shoes for turf toe and Hallux Rigidus. Read her review.
In previous years, we saw the Torin series break off into two different variations. There was the standard Torin which was a little bit lower to the ground and then the Torin Plush which was a little bit more cushioned and offered a very comfortable underfoot experience.
Taking a look at the midsole, the cushioning material has changed from the Quantic to the all-new Ego Max compound. These are kind of next-generation foams that combine the best aspects of cushioning with a little bit more rebound.
So, this new midsole is going to maintain that highly responsive design but it’s even lighter and has a little bit of softness as you go through your stride.
In the past, Altra shoes had what we call compressed rubber where shoe companies take a whole bunch of rubber and push it down until it has the desired amount of bounce. The upside of that is that it is relatively consistent all the way through. But the downside is that it tends to pack out and compress a little bit more over time.
With these newer generation foams, the idea is to provide just as much bounce with less foam while holding up a little bit longer. Overall, the new Ego Max material should hold up a little bit better than the previous Quantic material.
Altra has taken out the thin liner underneath the insole and above the cushion called the Strobel board. The Strobel board is relatively an inflexible piece of plastic or material that sits right on top of the midsole.
So the Torin has become flexible for the amount of cushion it has while giving you a little bit more feel for the ground. In other words, when you put your foot into the Torin, it’s going to feel very soft, very plush, very bouncy yet let you feel the ground.
The Altra Torin is a transitionally cushioned zero-drop road running shoe. The cushion on this shoe is the same height from the very base right to where your foot rests.
When you stand in the Torin, you’re going to be standing just as you would when you are barefoot but you’re going to be raised off the ground by a transitional amount of cushioning.
On the outsole, we’ve got plenty of rubber surrounding from heel to toe. We’ve got that InnerFlex technology that’s going to create a little bit of flexibility. Overall, the outsole offers plenty of traction and durability you need for your everyday running.
Altra uses a mesh upper but really locking it in place. The result is a shoe that fits well with the trademark Altra non-tapered foot-shaped wide toe box. The toe box fits your foot well, really allows your toes to move around freely, and doesn’t look cosmetically as wide as they used to have in the past.
If you have a square foot or even a wider foot, this Torin is going to feel very comfortable for you. It’s not going to have some of that slushiness that people with narrower feet may have experienced in the past with Altra. Through the toe box, there’s some overlays through the midfoot to create some support. In the heel, there’s a lot of give and there’s not too much of a heel counter.
Overall, known as that reliable neutral daily trainer, the Torin has been around for years. Altra tends to hold on to it for a little longer because it’s been doing so well. It is a little bit lighter and a little bit more responsive but it’s still going to continue to retain that reliable cushioning you’ve come to expect for your daily training miles.
- Too plush for some.
Best Brooks Shoes for Hallux Rigidus
11. Brooks Glycerin 19
Offering great support for Hallux Rigidus, the Glycerin 19 is one of the smoothest riding max cushion trainers on the market. This is due to the shoe’s single-density midsole and its outsole configuration.
In 2021, Brooks is simplifying their lineup. Basically, they’re taking their neutral shoes like the Glycerin 19 and they’re making a stability model like the Glycerin 19 GTS. So, the Transcend, which is a stability shoe, is going to be switched to the Glycerin GTS.
If you’re a real neutral runner, go with the regular Glycerin 19. But if your feet roll inward a bit too much or you just need more support underfoot, go with the Glycerin GTS 19.
Here’s a detailed comparison of the Brooks Glycerin 19 vs GTS 19.
The ride just feels very natural and very cushioned with a signature Glycerin ride. But what stands out the most about the Glycerin is how much smoother it feels than the Ghost and any previous Glycerin.
The best word to describe how the Glycerin is “padded everywhere”. It’s medium soft in density and it’s soft enough to make the ride comfortable and absorb impact. Easy paces are what the Glycerin 19 was designed for and what it feels best doing.
This Amazon customer says the Glycerin is really supportive for arthritis in both big toe joints. Read her review.
The Glycerin 18 had some extra diagonal lines on its midsole which the 19 doesn’t have. But apart from that, it’s very difficult to tell them apart on the road.
In the Brooks cushion category, the Glycerin is the big brother to the insanely popular Ghost. The big difference is that the Ghost 13 has a combination of DNA Loft and BioMogo in its midsole, while the Glycerin has a full-length DNA Loft midsole. But the good news is compared to the Ghost 13, the Ghost 14 now features a full-length slab of DNA Loft on the medial side and the lateral side.
This new midsole material debuted in 2018 and it was so popular that Brooks tweaked it to be even better than before so you get even more comfortable miles out there on the road. This EVA-based foam midsole acts as a landing pad without losing responsiveness or durability.
The outsole uses plenty of soft blown rubber. Brooks prefers using the softer type of rubber because it increases ground feel and it makes landings softer. However, the downside is that this rubber wears down a bit faster than the norm.
The biggest difference between the outsoles of the Glycerin 18 and the 19 is this long piece of rubber on the medial side. What this long piece does is it makes ride transitions smoother and increases midfoot stability and structure because there’s less flex in the midfoot.
I found grip and traction in the Glycerin 19 outstanding. This softer type of rubber is more tacky than the really hard durable rubber.
There are some pillowy flex grooves on the sides to give you a seamless transition. Then, there’s some rubber pressure zones on the heel to help dispense the impact as you land to give you a really comfortable ride putting in miles.
Upper & Lockdown
When you first put the Glycerin on for the first time, your feet are going to be met with a plush slipper-like fit. Brooks never holds back when it comes to the upper of the Glycerin because this shoe is supposed to be their plushest most premium training shoe. Compared to the Ghost, the Glycerin has a more premium more comfortable upper.
The upper of the Glycerin 19 feels so good and fits true to size because the plush mesh molds to your feet. The heel collar is generously padded and the heel counter is very stout to keep your heel locked in.
Talking about lockdown…
Lockdown is so good and so secure that you won’t even have to do heel lock lacing.
The heel has no seams and it is made of one piece of fabric that spills over the edge a little bit. This is a cool thing because other shoe brands sometimes have a seam that kind of gives hot spots.
The entire inner lining of the shoe is really smooth and soft to the touch. But the main feature of the upper is the fully gusseted tongue that all Glycerins have. There’s a bit more padding in the ankle collar while the Internal Stretch Bootie offers a seamless sock-like wrap that helps create an ideal fit.
Related: Do Brooks Run Big or Small?
Some brands believe that change is good. But Brooks believes in consistency and the Glycerin receives minor changes each update. The soft double jacquard mesh offers a beautiful breathable fit while the 3D Fit Print structures the upper keeping your foot secure.
The softer midsole is a step in the right direction and ride transitions are also smoother. Compared to other max cushion trainers, the Glycerin 19 is firmer but it’s also more stable because there’s less lean bias. However, the one area where the Glycerin 19 beats all other max cushion trainers is the magnificent upper which is an engineering masterpiece.
Apart from being one of the best running shoes for Hallux Rigidus, the Glycerin 19 is a great shoe for bunions as well.
- No much energy return.
2. Brooks Adrenaline 21
The reason why runners with Hallux Rigidus love the Adrenaline GTS has to do with the support and comfort this shoe offers. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Adrenaline, it’s a structured stability trainer. The shoe uses DNA Loft and the Brooks GuideRail stability system to give you a plush and supportive ride.
If you’re training for your half marathon or marathon and you really need a durable workhorse shoe to help you log the miles day in and day out, I think this is a perfect shoe. It’s just going to give you that comfort, responsiveness, and great stability.
Amy says the Adrenaline is supportive yet cushioned for her Hallux Rigidus. Read her review.
Midsole & GuideRails
The foam is made up of two materials. We have the DNA Loft which has been extended all the way from heel to toe on the lateral side, and then we’ve got the BioMogo DNA. This combination gives you just the right amount of softness, firmness, and support without sacrificing any responsiveness and durability.
First introduced in the Adrenaline 19, the Brooks GuideRail system wraps around both sides of the shoe. Previous models featured a dual-density medial post which helped to slow excessive pronation.
The advantage of the GuideRail system is that it offers more stability on both the lateral and the medial sides of the shoe. So, no matter where your foot lands, it will help you have a smooth transition from footstrike to toe-off through your entire gait cycle.
Think of it as a bumper. It really just engages and keeps you from going from one side to the other and so if you maybe don’t need as much stability, it’s not going to engage as much. Overall, GuideRails come in handy when you’re getting tired and you need that extra push back to your natural stride.
The outsole is made of a blown rubber which is supposed to be harder-wearing particularly for heel strikers. This blown rubber is going to last a long time because it’s really durable. There’s also some omega flex grooves to keep the flexibility in the forefoot. So, the Adrenaline is definitely a shoe that is built for mileage.
The Adrenaline 21 has gotten a fraction of an ounce lighter due to the new double-layer engineered mesh upper. The new upper is breathable, flexible, and it’s all that you could ask for in an upper. The shoe has more of a wide fit and the toe box is nice and wide to give more space for your toes to splay out more naturally.
The upper still has a bit of stretch to it and can accommodate a wide variety of foot types and it still feels nice and secure around your foot.
The Adrenaline has been around for over 21 years and so you know they’re doing something right. It is one of Brooks’ best-selling shoes along with its neutral counterpart, the Ghost.
It’s a great option for those folks who like a traditional running shoe that offers great cushioning and support. It competes with the Mizuno Wave inspire, the GT 2000 from Asics, and the Saucony Guide.
- Not for speedy runs.
Where to buy the best running shoes for Hallux Rigidus
Hoka One One Bondi
|4mm Drop||5mm Drop|
|Engineered mesh upper||Engineered mesh+ 3D Print|
|Stiff rocker midsole||Stiff rocker midsole|
|Rubber outsole||AHAR+ outsole|
|5mm Drop||4mm Drop|
|Streamlined mesh upper|| |
Well-ventilated and thin mesh
|Stiff rocker midsole||Stiff rocker midsole|
|Rubber outsole||Rubber + EVA outsole|
Best Running Shoes for Hallux Rigidus (Arthritis in the big toe)
Hallux Rigidus – FAQ
What is Hallux Rigidus (Arthritis of the big toe)?
Hallux Rigidus is when you can’t move the big toe joint properly and there’s pain potentially on the top of the joint. Oftentimes, that may make you walk off the side of your foot, which can, in turn, lead to knee pain, hip pain, or even back pain.
How do you know you have Hallux Rigidus?
Symptoms may include:
- Pain on the top of the big toe.
- Stiffness in the big toe.
- Loss of mobility in the toe.
Over time, without proper treatment, Hallux Rigidus can change your gait. To correct or alleviate this condition, it’s necessary to restore the foot’s optimal arch effectively unlocking the big toe and allowing it to function normally.
Can you run with Hallux Rigidus?
Running with Hallux Rigidus is possible if you’re a runner and you want to keep running. You don’t have to stop running. You have to figure out what is causing the pain and irritation in the big toe joint. Most of the time, you need better-fitting Hallux Rigidus shoes that provide your toes with plenty of room and support.
Are zero-drop shoes good for Hallux Rigidus?
Yes. Zero-drop shoes are good for Hallux Rigidus.
With zero-drop running shoes, your toes and heel are level. If your heel is sitting higher, then that position can force your toes to bend and that can cause some issues for stiff big toe joints.
Best inserts for Hallux Rigidus
Do inserts help with Hallux Rigidus? Yes. Inserts do help Hallux Rigidus because they can either offload or reduce the movement on the big toe joint. There’s a number of different options. You can use a carbon fiber insole which is this super stiff plate that doesn’t bend very much.
You just insert it into your shoes so that the shoe itself doesn’t flex through the front area. Therefore, there’s less bending action on your toe, which reduces the pain down the road.
Keep in mind that if you insert a carbon fiber plate into your shoe, you will have to have quite a bit of additional room inside your shoe to accommodate it.
You can also use orthotics that have a Morton’s carbon fiber insole. As you’re walking, this orthotic prevents the big toe joint from flexing too much. That helps really reduce pain on the big toe joint itself.