Buying Guides   The Best Running Shoes for Heavy Runners

The Best Running Shoes for Heavy Runners

 September 16, 2012 23

best running shoes for heavy runners

For any runner, running is a repetitive impact sport that can send a shock through the body every time the foot strikes the ground, so running shoes with the ability to absorb the impact are critical. For heavy runners, this is doubly important, as their size places even more stress on their joints.

There are two foot conditions that are typical among heavy runners, and the right shoe can help address both.

  • First, heavy runners typically have less arch to their feet. This can lead to knee and ankle pain, because a flattened foot has a tendency to turn inward, misaligning the legs.
  • The second condition, which goes often goes hand-in-hand with the first, is that heavy runners tend to overpronate. Pronation is an inward roll of the foot, from the heel to the big toe, that occurs when we walk or run. It is a natural occurrence, and is the body’s way of absorbing shock. However, overpronation (also called hyperpronation) occurs when there is too much roll, and again can lead to lower body injuries.

To tell if you overpronate, examine a pair of shoes, either existing running shoes or those you wear on a daily basis. If the heels are worn evenly, most likely you don’t have a pronation problem. However, if the heels turn inward and the soles are worn primarily on the inside, you may be an overpronator.

Shoe makers have recognized that this is a common problem, and there are a great many running shoes on the market that will allow you to run pain-free. If you fall into this category, consider motional control or stability shoes, which are built to restrict overpronation and provide overall stability.

Shoes to consider if you have low arches and overpronate (roll the ankle inwards)

Shoes to consider if you have normal to high arches.

  • Nike Zoom Vomero+ 7
  • Asics Gel Cumulus 14
  • Brooks Glycerin 9
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    COMMENTS (23)

    • Stability and motion control are a good band-aid for heavy runners. Ultimately, losing weight and developing muscle strength and flexibility will do the most for their running. Heavier runners should also not be surprised if their footstrike changes over time.

      Stability shoes are like medicinal marijuana. It may alleviate symptoms, but do you want to go through your whole life treating the symptoms or do you want to address the actual cause of the problem? Some people like to just counter the symptoms; some people like to cure it. Both have pros and cons, so take it easy and keep an open mind.

      • This is really a ridiculous comment. Most heavy runners are running to lose weight and get fit. But you want to sty healthy while doing it. An injury can set you back for weeks. So think a bit before you write.

      • Your comment adds nothing of value to the article. Heavy runners doesn’t necessarily mean overweight or fat runners. I’m a bigger guy at 5’10″ 215 who is focusing on bulking up. I run a few miles every day as part of my workout routine to make sure that while adding muscle I’m doing it responsibly. My knees take a beating and I need shoes to absorb the shock. Not everyone wants to make 140 lb waif. Shoe companies recognize this and also recognize that overweight people who want to run to lose weight need a shoe to allow them to do it safely.

        • I am in the military and while we do run unweighted sometimes, when we are doing our jobs we’re always weighted. Sometimes we need to practice running with extra weight. I am a 170 pound guy, already somewhat heavy in the running world, but I need that muscle for my job. Add to that a 25-50 pound load and I need the same shoe a 195-230 guy would wear. So that is another example of some folks who don’t need to lose weight but do need a shoe for heavy foot falls.

    • I love how every comments section following a question about shoes or training for heavy runners is bound to include the genius, penetrating advice: lose weight.

      No kidding? I hadn’t thought of that. In fact, I had no idea that running might help me to lose weight — I’m just in it for the suffering.

      Of course shoes to address the symptoms unique to heavy runners are “band-aids.” The whole point is to not injure yourself whilst you work to lose the weight. This leaves aside the fit person who lays beyond the arbitrary 180# horizon at which running shoe companies (and most narrow-minded runners) place the “clydesdale” tag. As much as it may pain you to admit this, there are plenty of fit guys out there, with healthy bfps, who don’t fit into your pocket-sized preconception of appropriate running weight. And while it might be true that ultimately my knees would benefit from weighing less, I prefer to carry a healthy amount of highly functional weight. That’s a legitimate fitness decision and I need shoes that support it and me.

      So save the “lose weight” comment. Or shut up and run faster, lest we catch you.

      • Thank you.

      • How wonderful to have such an eloquent advocate for those of us looking to loose weight and get healthy. Thank you so much!

    • Well said jkg! The reason I am running in the first place is to lose weight.

    • Happy Belated New Year Everyone,

      I’m considered a heavy short distance jogger, not runner. Therefore, I’ve made a commitment to jog every day for a better feeling of wellness. Of course I would love to lose weight but more so I will jog to maintain a feeling of wellness. I’ve been jogging strong sense May 21,2011 and I feel great. When I first started jogging I couldn’t jog a block. Right now I’m jogging a mile without stopping. Therefore my current daily routine consist of jogging a mile without stopping and walking a mile without stopping.

      I’m not really into dieting but to control food consumption I do a 12hr fast everyday. This is my way of telling my body that its had enough food for the day. If I were a competitive distance runner then I would work myself down to a body weight of 125 pounds or less. I’m an unemployed college grad so I can’t afford the running shoes that I want right now, i.e. Brooks Glycerin 9. Currently I’m jogging in asics trainers and they feel great. I just ordered some saucony grid Cohesion 4′s. I Purchased them online at 6pm.com for a bargain price of $35.

      In conclusion, I feel that a heavy runner should make a strong effort to lose weight if he/she wants to become competitive with the lighter competitive runners or has a goal of reaching/maintaining a lower BMI. On the other hand if a heavy runner is not competing then he/she should run or jog to maintain a sense of wellness, even if he/she doesn’t lose weight. In essence there are heavy runners/joggers who feel well just because they run or jog on a daily basis, I’m one of such!

    • What if my heels are worn on the outside?

      • New shoe Juan! :-) I have to replace mine constantly now to maintain safety. I have about 80#’s to lose and because of this(so far) I tend to overpronate. I am on my 2nd pair this year and expect to purchase 1 more before the end of 2012. Please please please take care of your feet, the rest of your joints and body will that you!

    • I have been running for many years and at 6’5 and 210 pounds I have tried almost every shoe out there. I mean everything..I have used the NB Minimus to run up Pikes Peak, the Brooks PureGrit for a recent 50k, the Mizuno Wave Ascent 5 for a mountain 50 miler, the list never ends.It comes down to what feels comfortable for you. From experience,I would not endorse a minimal shoe for a marathon or beyond. Us bigger guys just need a little more meat under our feet. Not to say a minimal shoe cannot propel you to a PR at your next 13.1. I have come to the conclusion that a shoe such as the Brooks Cascadia or even the Adidas Boston 3 is the best pick to go the distance in. We cannot help that we are bigger than the “average” little guy out there. It does not mean we are stuck in a certain genre of shoe type either. Try them all. I hear the Hokas are great. Thank this site for being super informative and great luck out there on the trail or the road my fellow big guy!

    • Great article. I am a weight runner (more than 85 kg) and I never had in mind my weight and the arch of my feet, where I bought my shoes.

      Thank you for the information.

    • I would like a little more guidance on weight limits for shoes. I am 5’8″ and 140 lbs so probably a little heavy for a woman’s running shoe but I don’t see much info. I used to pronate but now I tend to wear the outsides of my shoes more. My heels, if viewed from behind…are worn down more on the outside than the inside. I know I have a significant heel strike (working on it) but why the uneven wear? I just switched to the Saucony Cortana form the Asics kayano and totally love it…my feet feel great and I adjusted to the slighter drop (12 down to 4) after about a week. Still get the uneven heel wear though. Any feedback?

    • I am a heavy runner – 250# – and I do run to try control and lose weight. While I regularly seek out reviews that may speak to the concerns of larger runners, I am almost always disappointed to read the trite “heavy runner = low arch = likely pronator = stability or motion control shoe.” I have been running for 20 years and have have never been below 190# during that time – but I have been reading the same inauthentic and half-hearted nonsense from so-called “running experts.” Much like the above review, these assessments almost never include any empirical evidence that a larger person is any more like to pronate than a smaller person. What’s more, the gross over-generalization that a larger people must have ‘flatter’ feet than smaller people is flat out dangerous. Here is a supposition that is equally valid as the one include on this page – recommending a motion control shoe based solely on the assumption that heavy body weight = low arches is pretty well guaranteeing that the runner will induce more stress on his/her joints and adulterate the gait to such extent that plantar fasciitis is almost an inevitability. To those shoe experts: I have no doubt that your intentions are pure but please do not merely phone it in when it comes comes to your heavier runners. Right, wrong or indifferent the heavier runner – depending on the standard or measure – makes up more than half of the runners we see on the roads and trails today….although I can’t prove that, of course.

    • Im a big guy 115kg 185cm Tall, not in the best shape, but when I pound the pavement (anywhere between 4km-8km) I wear the Nike Lunarglide 3+, best shoe out there for the heavier runner.

    • I am not sure where I fall in this discussion, I am a late 30s 6′ 192 lb male with about 15% BF, so relative to say elite mid-distance runners I am still fairly heavy. I did the math once and the average weight of the top ten milers and 5000m runners was something like 2.25 lbs per inch of height – so 160 or so for my height would be “ideal” by that standard. For ultra and marathon types it could be as low as 2lbs per inch.

      I do run about 25 mpw, and consider myself a solid intermediate runner. All I know is that I need to be healthy to keep running and injury prevention is by far my primary goal – so my shoe selection reflects that. I get some of the love for minimalist movement, but my body already takes a beating and I would rather have shoes take the beating than my joints. Stability shoes let me run farther, more often and injury fee. Less cushoning, strict neutral and more minimal shoes make me hurt. It is as simple as that.

      Personally, the LunarEclipse 3+ which have been my most recent primary trainer (from a more neutral Saucony Triumph and Lunarglide 4) are simply fantastic. Tyring to find the trail equivalent and would love to try some Hokas just to see if they could work.

    • I was 215 lbs when I completed the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2012. I trained in and ran the marathon (I actually run/walk/run) in Brooks Beasts. No break-in required, good right out of the box. I have the flat feet that heavy runners usually have, but I do not over pronate, as I am a forefoot striker. However, I don’t overpronate while walking either, as I had my walking gait observed at a running store. Anyway, the Beast is nothing short of great, walking OR running and for everyday on-the-job use, as it has extra cushioning in the forefoot, as well as the heel. And, man, do they hold up well to my pounding! I highly recommend them.

    • I’m a heavier runner 5’11″ 225lbs I only run twice a week 5 miles per run as a supplementation to my fitness routine. Maybe it’s rare for someone my size but I have pretty high arches and wear out the outside of my shoes faster than anything else (possibly due to being bow legged as well). Anyway, I’ve worn multiple types of Saucony (Guide, Hurricane, Triumph) all of which worked fairly well for me besides the Hurricane and I’ve also used the Asics Kayano which were just OK for me. But a few weeks ago I bought a pair of the Nike Pegasus 29 and I think I’ve found my shoe, I absolutely love them! The cushioning hold up great for me and is plush and springy (best cushioning I’ve EVER felt in a shoe), there’s plenty of support for my high arches and on top of everything they’re nice and light. While my main focus isn’t speed, my runs are actually faster in these shoes than any I’ve worn before. And to top it all of they’re very affordable, I found mine for $80. It’s been suggested to my over and over again being a bigger guy that I need a highly structured shoe but this just isn’t always the case, I do prefer a great cushioned shoe (in which the Pegasus 29 is top notch) but if you’re a bigger guy and haven’t had the best luck with the motion control or stabalizing shoes give the Pegasus a shot, it’s literally changed my outlook on running.

      • I have the same issues. High arches, supination, and 230+. Did the Pegasus last a while?

    • I have jogged slightly (10 miles x 2 per week ) for 25 years and I now weight 220 lbs. (Well, I am a neutral/ slight supinate runner with moderate arches on both feet. So none fits the scenario in the above article.)
      Recently I am planing to intensify my running to half marathon in the next year and so I buying running shoes seriously. Thank for this site, I am learning a lot about shoes and running form. Apparently, I found myself to be a fore-foot runner – between toes and arch. My question is : As claimed by Newton Shoes, is fore-foot running form the most efficient and least injury risk ?

    • Hi, I am mainly a walker,do very little running. I am considered a neutral runner. I tend to like a shoe that is heavy with good arch & cushion support. Any recommendations? It seems the heavier shoes are Motion Control..

    • Hi, I’m looking for some guidance on the right shoe for me. I am 6’3″ and weigh 295. I have always been an avid short runner ( 3 – 5) miles per run. However recently, due to work and family I have gotten “WAY OUT OF SHAPE. Recently I tried to start running again, but injured a knee at work and had to stop. I want to get back to running, but I want to get the best shoe for me. I have a medium arch, but want a shoe to stand up to the pounding. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Thanks In Advance.

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