Today we’ll be shedding light on seven of the best running shoes for Hallux Limitus. First, Hallux refers to your big toe and Limitus actually refers to the limited range of motion of that big toe joint. This is one of the most common foot conditions we see along with the bunion. A lot of runners, hikers or people doing any type of activity level suffer from pain or swelling around the big toe joint.
The ideology of this is basically as your big toe comes up, you start to get some jamming at the top of the big toe joint, and that’s actually what causes the pain. Usually, two hings can lead to this issue. First, of the bones of the big toe is abnormally longer than it should be and causes some jamming at the joint level. Second, the same bone can be “plantar flexed” or down more than it should be, again, causing some jamming.
Most of the time, people do pretty well with prescription orthotics, some great toe exercises, or the introduction of artificial joint fluid to help increase the range of motion. If these fail, you can perform surgery on the toe by shortening it or just cleaning it up.
A lot of runners opt for some great running shoes that successfully help alleviate the pain and actually get the big toe to function properly. Here we go.
This neutral running shoe is incredibly lightweight considering the amount of cushion it offers. It has a really cushioned footbed and midsole that will give you long-lasting comfort without wearing the shoe down. It’s ideal for road running, court training, walking and all types of fitness activities.
A lot of runners favor Altra running shoes because of their zero drop technology and their foot-shaped toe box. Also, the shoe has a wider toe box compared to the previous version.
Why is it important to have a wide toe box ?
When you land, your toes naturally splay and spread out and the foot-shaped toe box gives your toes plenty of room to keep your feet comfortable and moving. So Altra want the Torin to give you a natural splay and keep a natural shape to your foot. Runners who like that and like this fit really appreciate the extra room in the forefoot.
The midsole is an updated midsole from Altra. When Altra update their midsole they try to do two things, make the shoe lighter and make it a little more responsive. Some of the improvements for the Torin 2.0 over the previous version is the addition of the Inner Flex technology that makes the midsole more flexible and a little bit more responsive. The midsole is dual-layer EVA that has a highly responsive A-Bound top layer to give you great energy return with every stride.
Another thing they did in the upper is they tried to increase the durability throughout the mesh and any of the welded overlays. One of the features you’ll definitely like is the Quick-dry air mesh which really does dry quickly when you get it wet.
It’s a zero drop neutral shoe and a high cushioned trainer with 27 mm stack height with no different distance between the heel and the forefoot of the shoe. This is great for any recreational runner, and if you like to do longer distance, it would definitely make it a more comfortable ride.
The bottom has a very durable outsole which is going to help keep you nice and steady. It’s a little bit stiff yet sufficiently flexible.
Altra Instinct / Intuition 3
The Instinct is the Men’s model while the Intuition is the Women’s. One cool thing Altra takes into account in all their shoes is the fact that a woman’s foot is different than a man’s foot. So Altra didn’t just shrink the men’s model and pink it up. They actually put three factors into their technology while engineering the shoe.
First off, a woman’s foorefoot is wider in relation to the heel which tends to be a lot more narrow. Also, the women’s medial arch tends to be a little bit longer and their instep a bit higher than the men’s. So Altra engineered this shoe around those three factors. Everything else is pretty interchangeable between the Intuition and the Instinct.
One of the things you’ll notice about Altra shoes is the zero drop technology. This means that the heel, the metatarsal heads, and the toes sit as higher from the ground, 27 mm higher. This is believed to set you up with better posture from the beginning. It’s also believed to set you up for a better running technique by getting that higher heel-to-toe drop out of the equation.
Another feature Altra is famous for is the their foot-shaped toe box. This is going to allow the toes to splay out allowing them to function properly, and if the toes function properly, they help stabilize the foot upfront, absorb more shock, and help with the toe-off phase of the running gait.
A couple of things you don’t see on this shoe is, first, Inner Flex. Inner Flex sits in the midsole and it’s actually a series of grids that run through the shoe. It actually helps to flex and get you a more responsiveness through the shoe without having pillow-like cushion inside the midsole. Also, there’s another matrial called A-Bound that runs around the shoe. This recycled material is going to help deflect forces, make the shoe a little bit more durable, and also help with responsiveness because it’s a little bit firmer material.
The stack height
The stack height on the Altra Intuition / Instinct 3 is 24 millimeters all the way. It’s made of a firmer material than Altra used on the 2nd version. Altra took the stack height down a couple millimeters in terms of cush from the 2nd version as well.
The upper features, again, a foot-shaped toe box. Altra have used some nice soft materials that are going to help hug the foot. The shoe features Quick Dry air mesh material which is very breathable and lightweight as well. This update features a nice cushioned collar around the ankle which is going to hug the heel very well and make it feel even more comfortable.
Right on the bottom of this shoe you’ll see the outsole. The outsole has that foot pod technology. This technology is designed to map the bones and the tendons of the foot helping with flexibility and more responsiveness. This technology provides better performance through the whole ride because it’s flexing with the foot where it should be
The objective behind this shoe is to get you cushion by all means, but it’s also designed to take all of those things you don’t need out of the ride. The Instinct / Intuition 3 is going to rival that traditional feel of Brooks Ghost, Saucony Ride, Mizuno Wave Rider and other options like that in a zero drop platform.
So if you had the original Instinct / Intuition or the 1.5 and were kind of put off by the 2.0, check this shoe out as it’s definitely worth it and Altra have worked hard to get it shoe right.
Continuing Altra’s natural zero drop design, the Paradigm provides a unique experience with a maximum cushioned midsole to keep your body feeling fresh mile after mile. With an A-Bound midsole for resilient underfoot protection and, a foot pod outsole designed to protect metatarsal heads, and an extra wide toe box for optimal toe splay, neutral running shoe is ideal for midfoot to forefoot strikers looking for that extra cushion and it’s great for the runner seeking that natural ride without taking a minimal approach.
The Paradigm tends to have a soft smooth feel from heel strike to toe-off. A lot of runners are really satisfied with the shock absorption on the roads and are most surprized with the amount of protection they feel throughout the forefoot.
While cushioning was a hige shrink in the Paradigm, a lot of runners did note it was harder to reach max speeds in making it more suitable for long runs and recovery efforts.
Much room for toes
Fans of Altra’s wide toe box will not be disappointed as the Paradigm provides a natural ride system to mimic the shape of the foot for ultimate comfort. Runners are pleased with the amount of room for their toes to spread and found the fit of the midfoot to be slightly loose, but readjusting the laces seems to provide a quick fix to this problem but runners with narrow feet my consider other options.
The Paradigm is a suitable choice for the roads but it’s not adequate for trails and off-road running. Fans of Altra’s natural philosophy as well as firm believers in th emaximum movement can find balance with the Altra Paradigm. Runners seeking a zero drop shoe with enough cushioning for high-mileage road training will find this neutral running shoe to be an ideal choice.
Hoka One One Clifton 3
If you’re familiar with the Clifton line, it keeps the same family DNA as the Clifton and the Clifton 2. This is a lightweight tempo trainer for how much cushioning it offers. The Clifton 3 sees the biggest changes since the shoe’s release.
If you’ve ever run in a Clifton before, you won’t be disappointed as the 3rd iteration is basically the same with a couple of updates. This update sees a two-millimeter increase in the toe box width than the previous versions which is a welcome addition for people with wider feet and Metatarsalgia. It’s also great for runners with toe issues including Hallux Limitus, Hallux Rigidus, bunions, and Morton’s Neuroma. Whether you wear a thinner or a thicker pair of socks, you won’t feel the difference thanks to the generous toe box.
The Clifton 3 has a new upper mesh but still has that TPU outsole cage to it so it’s going to fit like a sockliner. The upper has been smoothed out to really optimize the fit and feel of the shoe while the tongue really blends in to the materials of the upper. The materials have been thinned up making the shoe more balanced now to match the foot without feeling that same clunky big tongue or that inhibited binding up around the forefoot. The upper is not as bulky as it was in the previous two versions making the Clifton 3 able to fit better out of the box for a lot of runners without causing any irritation issues on high-mileage runs.
In terms of weight, the Hoka Clifton 3 is getting fatter and is 10oz for men’s size 10.5, but it’s still light looking at how much cushioning you get. It goes through the stride well and it’s one of the shoes that if you’re feeling beat up or tired from your miles and you want something a little easy on the legs, this is a great shoe. If you want something lighter, you may want to try the Hoka Clayton.
The outsole remains the same but sees the addition of a little bit high-abrasion rubber to the toe cap just to aid in some of that durability without affecting the weight.
Hoka now provides performance-oriented shoes like the Clifton and the Tracer and high-volume shoes like the Bondi’s (below) and Mafate’s.
Hoka One One Bondi 4
The Bondi has been the flagship model of the max cushioning line for several years. And this is the first year that it’s really undergone any kind of major update to it. The Hoka Bondi 4 has also been a huge success for heavier runners and for some people doing some major high mileage.
One of the first things you’ll notice on the new Bondi 4 is the beveled heel. It’s beveled to 10 degrees and it’s going to provide a little better transition through that gait cycle. It’s also putting more contact surface on the ground and it’s going to give you a little bit smoother ride and increase durability back in the heel.
One of the things you’ll also notice on the outsole of the shoe is there was a major point on the Bondi 3 where the foot flexes and some runners were really wearing it down quickly. What Hoka did is they decided to make it a little bit more durable by getting runners with a little bit more ground contact improving that flex joint on it.
The upper is really softer compared to the Bondi 3 which was a little bit more rigid. This is going to help form to the foot a little bit all the way around going up to the forefoot. Hoka has gone with the standard lace system as compared to the quick-lace system in the previous version. There’s also a full-cushioned tongue to provide more comfort.
The Bondi 4 has a 4mm heel-to-toe drop with 33 mm in the heel and 29 mm in the forefoot in the men’s version while the women’s comes in at 31 mm in the heel and 27 in the forefoot.
In short, the Bondi 4 is all about max cush but pure comfort.
Hoka One One Constant
The Constant is the ultra-cushioned super stable supportive shoe. It’s probably the most stable shoe that Hoka has made yet. It’s going to compete with the likes of Brooks Beast line and that type of shoes.
The stack height
It’s got a 30 mm stack height underneath the base of the heel along with a 26 mm stack height underneath the base of the metatarsal layer. This gives a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop.
The Constant features two different EVA foam materials. It has a compressed EVA midsole and Hoka’s proprietary RMAT material. The RMAT foam is a lot denser and a lot firmer than the compressed EVA. The compressed EVA is what you find in the Hoka Stinson’s and the Bondi’s and provides a soft cushioned feel everybody used to feel when they put on a pair of Hoka’s. RMAT runs along the medial side of the shoe the entire length and makes its way over the lateral side through the heel. And if you look underneath the arch, you can see how RMAT comes up and gives you a lot more lift up underneath that arch to give you a little firm support there.
The heel counter on the Constant is nice and deep that your foot sits down in there. It has a firm material that wraps around your heel and Achilles which locks your foot right in the center of the shoe giving a lot of support by preventing your ankles from rolling from inside to out.
Another thing that helps add extra stability is the ground contact area – the outsole. The base of the shoe is pretty wide and what that does is it gives you more ground contact, a more solid base, and more inherent stability. The Constant has a late-stage Meta Rocker. And the late-stage Meta Rocker means that you’re on your forefoot just for a millisecond or two longer. This is long enough to give you a little bit more stability in the forefoot of the shoe as you’re running.
The upper is very soft and forms to the foot very well while the tongue is awesome. The tongue doesn’t come from the toe up but wraps around the foot from the medial side to the lateral side of the shoe. As you lace the shoe up, the laces pull the tongue around so it just kind of wraps around your foot like a blanket. This gives you a nice little cushy feel and your feet feel nice and home and safe in the Constant.
The Kinvara 7 has made mid to forefoot striking effortless and natural. This is in part due to the 4-mm drop with 22 mm in the back and 18 mm in the front. However, it feels like a much higher drop shoe because of the amount of cushioning it has in the heel.
The midsole sees the introduction of the EVERUN technology. EVERUN is placed in the rear portion of the shoe and gives better energy return. Runners noticed when they would heel strike on the downhill or when they started getting a little lazy toward the end of the run, the shoe felt much more comfortable and provided some responsiveness and some cushion at the same time so that the shock wasn’t going up their legs and into their knees.
Saucony added some high-abrasion rubber right back on the heel section and on the front. The outsole also has injection blown rubber right along the outside and in the forefoot area. This gives better traction, more durability and also a little bit of cushion. The rest of the outsole has a mixture of more dense EVA and some regular EVA. This helps provide a much softer ride.
The upper is a highly breathable double mesh that runs throughout the forefoot and into the rear of the shoe. On top of this breathable mesh is the FLEXIFILM technology added to areas where you would need more stability, around the outsides of the feet and in the toe area. This leads for some more stability while being so lightweight and flexible that you don’t really feel its existence.
The lacing system is pretty straightforward. The shoe has flat wide laces which cinch down really well on the foot throughout the entire run.
Moisture wicking properties
Around the heel of the shoe there’s the Run Dry material which really does keep your foot dry and kind of sucks the moisture away and acts just like a wicking T-shirt would getting that moisture away from your foot.
The Kinvara 7 has one highly breathable section covered up by the PROLOCK syste. This system cinches down from both sides of your feet and it starts right up front and goes right about to the middle. PROLOCK kind of grips your foot and locks it down in place.
In summary, runners, like myself, really like the Kinvara 7 as it’s very lightweight and super comfortable. You can really feel the foam combination it has and really does what it says it’s supposed to do and will making you feel good the entire run and especially toward the end of your runs. In short, it’s going to take you from training to race day.