Home Guides Best Running Shoes for Heavy Runners 2020

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Running draws people of all shapes and sizes, from the thin, willowy runner that comes to mind for many people, to muscular athletes and weightlifters, to people looking to lose weight.

Running can put an average of 1.5 to 3 times your body weight of shock on the joints, good form and the right shoes important for all runners, and this is especially true for heavy runners, for whom proper shock absorption and support is even more important.

Runners are considered “heavy” if they have a BMI of over 27. Though BMI is not perfect,it can provide a point of reference when shopping for the right pair of running or walking shoes.

Here is a selection of running shoes that can help heavier runners offset the high impact of running. We have a guide about losing weight through running which you should check out!.

Neutral Running Shoes for Heavy Runners

If you have normal arches, which don't collapse inward while you run, you might be best suited to a neutral running shoe.

The shoes we selected here provide maximum shock absorption.

The Hoka One One Rincon quickly became one of my favorite long-run shoes. The combination of lightweight while also providing such over-the-top cushion is truly a joy for the long run. Read full review »


  • Tons of cushion
  • Responsive
  • Comfortable upper
  • Super lightweight
  • Lots of ventilation through the upper and tongue


  • Slightly tight on a wide foot
  • A little slippery on slick surfaces
The Altra Paradigm 4.0 is an ultra-cushioned daily trainer that is ready to tackle the high miles while providing a zero-drop set up. With lots of top-level technologies, you'll pay for the plush shoe. Read full review »


  • Tons of cushion
  • Super wide toe box
  • Light weight for the cushion
  • Good energy return
  • Soft, breathable upper


  • Slightly tight on the midfoot
  • Zero-drop takes getting used to
The ASICS Gel Nimbus 22 is hands down my favorite running shoe. The ASICS Gel Nimbus 22 offers a smooth run that offers a great deal of not only comfort but also boasts increased flexibly and comfort over previous models. Read full review »


  • Comfort of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 22 far exceeds its competitors
  • The responsiveness of the ASICS Gel Nimbus 22 and the overall cushioning leads to comfort
  • The ASICS Gel Nimbus 22 offers a stable and steady feel


  • The cost is on the high end for a pair of running shoes

Stability Running Shoes for Heavy Runners

If your step is unstable, or your arches collapse excessively inward while running, you might want to considere one of the following shoes.

The Hoka One One Gaviota 2 is a max-cushioned stability shoe built for many miles. The cushioning is plush yet responsive with a smooth ride that is worth the substantial price tag. Read full review »


  • Max Cushioning that is both lightweight and responsive
  • Stable ride
  • Visual redesign makes it more appealing


  • Narrow in areas
  • Sluggish on speed work and tempo runs
The ASICS Kayano 26 is a solid everyday stability trainer built for many miles at different paces. Unfortunately the high price tag and the many similarities it shares with the other ASICS stability offerings hold it back from being an outstanding shoe. Read full review »


  • Exoskeletal Heel Counter
  • FlyteFoam Propel Cushioning
  • Smooth Heel/Midsole strike to toe off


  • Price Tag
  • Cushioning is unforgiving the longer the distance
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 offers a supportive yet springy ride as all design components work together to cup the heal with a gentle hug, which transitions smoothly into a solid toe-off.

Minor changes to the base and added medial support strips to an overall slimmed-down upper mean this Go-To-Shoe just keeps getting better! Read full review »


  • Sturdy shoe with superb heel support
  • Comfortable with springy toe off
  • Appealing design


  • Fit loosens slightly miles into the run

How Extra Weight Affects Runners

Extra weight affects runners in all different ways. Heavy runners need to think more about arch support, overpronation, and form.

So how do you know if you’re a heavy runner?

Traditionally, runners are considered “heavy” if they have a BMI of over 25 or weigh over 90kg. It is best to weigh yourself in the morning right when you get up but after you have urinated. Do this regularly for a few days until you get an average and use that as your weight to calculate your BMI.

Though BMI is not a perfect science, it can provide a point of reference when shopping for the right pair of running shoes. To calculate your BMI use this formula: BMI = kg/m(squared).

Here is an overview of BMI for fitness weight:

  • Under 18.5 is underweight
  • 18.5 to 25 is normal
  • 25 and over is overweight

Arch Support

Heavy runners need more support in the arch because chances are your feet do not have a high enough arch to support your body. In this case, the arch is not enough, which means your body has to compensate and you may experience pain in the legs, knees, ankles, and feet.

Too much pain can be discouraging, which is why the right shoes are important to support your arch, feet, and absorb that extra shock.


With additional shock placed on the joints, it’s critical for heavy runners to carefully assess biomechanics and running form. A good first step is to determine if you overpronate. For more information check out our article describing different pronation issues.

Many heavier runners tend to overpronate, which means you will need some shock absorption. Overpronation puts more stress on the ankles and knees, making it even more important for heavier runners to address these issues before injury occurs.

While some heavier runners may not have the biomechanical issues described above, another issue to be aware of is the durability of the outsole. Over time, the midsole and outsole will break down because of continuous use. Keep an eye on your running shoes and replace them when the outsole or midsole start to break down. This way, your feet stay healthy and you stay less prone to injuries.

A good way to tell you need new shoes is if you notice your shoes are a bit thinner, they don’t bounce back enough, or you are more sore than usual after runs. To make your shoes last longer, rotate two pairs of running shoes and make sure they are completely dry in between uses.

The Importance of Good Running Form

Proper running form is important for all runners, but focusing on running efficiently is vital for heavier runners, not only to improve performance but also to help stave off injury. Proper running form distributes shock more evenly, which minimizes damage to the joints and tendons.

General strength and conditioning are also key for healthy, efficient running. Strong legs, core, and back will help improve running form and also help prevent injury. For tips on strength training, see Randy’s list of considerations.

For tips on proper running form, take a look at Randy’s overview. James also has an excellent round up of the top five most important habits for efficient running.

Here is a brief overview of running form to get you started:

  • Head — look directly in front of you
  • Shoulders —— pull back and don’t hunch over
  • Arms —— 90-degree angle, elbows at side
  • Hands —— relaxed —— don’t squeeze
  • Torso/Core —— strength train this area, keep core tight
  • Hips —— lean slightly into the run
  • Knees —— middle of feet so when the foot hits the ground right under the knee
  • Legs —— 90-degree angle when you land to absorb shock
  • Feet —— aim to hit the surface with the ball of your feet

What About Orthotics?

Orthotics can be helpful to relieve pain and prevent damage to people who are overweight. The best place to get these orthotics are from your doctor. The orthotics need to fit well, be relatively firm, and counteract the forces placed on the ankles and feet.

If you don’t have time to see a doctor for orthotics, an over-the-counter orthotic may work, as long as it fits properly. The PowerStep Orthotic provides enough support and is wide enough to counteract the force without digging into your feet.

Final Thoughts

Finding the right running shoes for heavier runners can help disperse the extra shock and weight put on the joints.

Make sure to practice proper form when you start running to get in good habits.

In addition, strength and conditioning can help improve your fun and help you achieve your overall fitness goals.

If you still have problems with the right shoes, talk to your local podiatrist to get fitted for custom orthotics.

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