Two studies commissioned by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) compare the speed, mechanics, and energy of maximalist shoes manufactured by HOKA One One against a standard style of running shoes.

The first study tested the impact of HOKA shoes on runners’ form and speed, with eight male and eight female study participants. All participants maintained a running habit of at least 6 miles per week, had not sustained a foot or leg injury in the past 3 months, and had never worn HOKA shoes before. Using three-dimensional motion capture cameras and force plates, researchers measured how each shoe type affected the force with which the runners’ feet hit the ground, their speed, and multiple aspects of their running form, explains a media release from ACE.

The second study compared how many calories runners burned while running in HOKA shoes as compared to standard running shoes, as well as standard running shoes with added weight to match the slightly heavier maximalist shoes. This study involved 16 runners who each maintained a running habit of at least 15 miles per week. Study participants ran on a treadmill at the same speed for the same amount of time in each of the three shoe types.

Existing research shows that once a runner is accustomed to a specific type of shoe, adding curvature and weight often leads to poorer form and can increase the risk of injury. These studies showed that except for a 4.5% increase in ground impact forces (which researches speculated might be mitigated by the added padding the shoe provides), runners in HOKA shoes performed nearly the same in all measures of speed, form, and energy expenditure as they did in standard running shoes. ACE researchers say this is a rare example where a lack of significant findings could be considered a positive outcome, the release continues.

“This lack of difference in a variety of measured outcomes is evidence that the shoes are a quality option for runners,” says Cedric X. Bryant, PhD, chief science officer for American Council on Exercise, in the release.

“While results didn’t indicate any significant performance benefits from HOKA shoes in the short term, these studies didn’t show a negative impact on performance, either. If runners find them to be more comfortable than a standard shoe or minimalist shoe, they may be worth a try.”

ACE researchers note in the release that this study only measured the impacts of HOKA shoes on runners in the short term. More research is needed to test the long-term performance and health benefits or detriments.

[Source(s): American Council on Exercise, Globe Newswire]