Rocker Bottom Running Shoes: What do they do?

For quite some time I have been intrigued by the apparent success of running shoes with an inherent rocker built into the shoe.
In particular the brand Hoka has led the way, with footwear that looks weird, but for which the company makes few claims other than:

It is very light
It has a 4mm drop
It has a massive stack height
It has a well-defined rocker
There is no mention of a cure for cancer or that these shoes will make you run like Usain Bolt.

hoka.jpg

To the list of claims made by Hoka, I would add one more:

They appear to help with chronic injury, for some at least!
So, despite the fact that Hoka is, by any definition, an oversized shoe (the creators themed the shoe on what they observed in oversized tennis rackets and mountain bike wheels), I suspect their success in treating hard to shift conditions has more to do with the rocker than anything else.

Other companies, notably MBT have very pronounced rockers, and having just spent a couple of days with my old friend Professor Benno Nigg, picking his quite extraordinary bank of knowledge, I thought it timely to take a look at exactly what they do, and throw a few cautions out there as well.

Simon Bartold
Director of Bartold Clinical

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