Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

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I can't focus right now... so I'm going to write another shoe review!

This time we have the Brooks Ghost 6 on deck!

This is Brook's flagship neutral trainer.  It weighs in at 10.7 ounces and has about an 11-12mm drop.

     The Brooks Ghost series has won numerous awards for the last +4 years.   The Ghost has won the Jogger's World "editors choice" award 4 separate times.  You'll see a ton of people wearing this shoe not just for running, but for walking and casual wear.  Brooks knows their stuff and people really like their shoes, regardless of their activity of choice (or lack thereof).

    So what do I think of the shoe?  I've got a little over 150 miles on them.   They are really soft.  I know Brooks DNA (their cushioning system made of  a non-Newtonian fluid) is supposed to be soft, but this is "my feet are being absorbed by the shoe" soft.  These are cushioned trainers.  To be honest, the Brooks Glycerin 11 is the firm neutral shoe and the ghost is the cushioned one.  Even though they are marketed as the opposite.  I've run into this having tested both shoes and gotten similar customer responses (working at Foot Traffic in Portland, OR).  The Glycerin is more stable and protective, but the Ghost is softer.

   So do I understand why the general public seems to love this shoe?  Yes.  It's soft to the point that you start hallucinating and a ghost whispers in your ear, "Your form doesn't matter.  Ignore it and slam your feet into the ground."  Hence why it's called the Brooks Ghost.....

Not really.

     I do have some major issues with this shoe.  I will start out by saying that I have regulated the Ghost 6 to non-running duties and it is permanently benched.   And I pushed it +50 miles more than I wanted to.

     My first issue is the major toe spring.  I personally feel like it's excessive and annoying.  But that's me.  I like a shoe that is responsive and doesn't have or has little toe spring.  That is not the Brooks Ghost 6.  Running long distances in this shoe made my plantar fascia feel like it was being uncomfortably stretched.   Constantly.  I also experienced a large amount of friction and blisters at the end of my toes, even though the shoe fits a bit long on me.  Or is supposed to.  I have a little over half a thumb width between the end of my foot and the end of the shoe (the optimal amount).  However, that doesn't take into account that toe spring.  I'm sure it feels great if you like that.  The shoe rolls you right along without much effort.  I don't like it.  I like putting my effort in, but instead feel like I'm fighting the Ghost in regards to who gets to do the work.

   Did I mention the Ghost was soft?  Oh wait yes I did.  A million times.  Most of that softness is in the heel. This is a great protective shoe for heel strikers.  That combined with the excessive toe spring gives it a very smooth ride.  However, this shoe is not responsive and your foot will just sink into it.  I have tried to do workouts in this shoe, but for me it just doesn't respond well.  Trying to get up on your forefoot/midfoot is a little awkward, mostly thanks to the toe spring.  The Brooks Ghost 6 is a normal run, recovery run and long run shoe.  Not a fast shoe.  In fact it feels a little slow.  I personally call it the "my feet are messed up and I don't want to feel them" shoe.  Or just the cheaper Hoka shoe made by Brooks.

   It's so soft that I get an odd fatigue that is the fatigue same fatigue you get from running on sand for too long.  I have heard of this fatigue from people who wear mushy shoes or Hokas.  I just get extremely tired in the hips and upper thigh areas.  Not glutes though.  If I come back from a hard run and my glutes are sore, I know I'm using the right muscles.  With these shoes I just get an odd soreness that makes running more than 5-6 miles in this shoe uncomfortable for me.  I also felt this when I was running in the Altra Torins.  Like I mentioned, I like firm shoes.  These are not firm.  I've done +20 miles in the Brooks Racer ST5 and the Brooks Adrenaline and don't feel this at all.  In fact I don't feel anything except that I'm flying over the ground.  Fast.  The Brooks Ghost?  It feels like a Ghost is holding onto my legs and telling me to slow down.  Again with the hallucinations.  On a serious note I think it comes from this extreme cushioning causing all your smaller stabilizing muscles to have to work harder to keep your limbs straight through the gait cycle from footstrike to the propulsion/toe-off phase.  That's fine for short distance, but long distance?  I think that could cause problems.  On the opposite end of the spectrum?  Long term running in too little/barefoot?  Stress fractures/injuries.  Each end of the spectrum, from barefoot to super cushioning has it's own issues.  Find what works for you and don't follow fads until they've been proven to work.  Also remember that every person is different.
Stepping off soap box now....

    The fit of the shoe in the forefoot and toes is not something I am a fan of.   It has a great midfoot, but from there it struggles.  The heel is pretty lose, so make sure you lace lock this shoe.  The forefoot looks like it starts well, but then turns into this bullet shape that squeezes all my toes.  That combined with the toe spring?  Uncomfortable.  If I leave my feet in long enough they get used to it, but I don't have that problem with any of the other shoes I'm using right now.  The Brooks Racer ST5, the T7 Racer and the Brooks Adrenaline 14 don't cause me any issues, especially in the forefoot.  The Brooks Ghost 6?  Uncomfortable and narrow in the toes.  Again, I can handle this for a while, especially as a casual shoe, but long term I am concerned (hence the benching).

And lastly? The durability of the outsole is terrible. The midsole is fine and stays soft for a long time. The outsole after 75 miles had a ton of wear on the rubber nubs. Particularly in the forefoot and heel. 150 miles? The nubs are destroyed. I'm starting to see the midsole. When I run I can't feel it, but again I start thinking about that upper thigh fatigue thing. Friends of mine have worn this shoe down almost past the midsole and they didn't notice any issues due to the shoe being so cushioned. So maybe I just need to suck it up and wear them completely down the midsole.

    So overall a good shoe, but it's just not for me.  It's a good "my body is destroyed" soft shoe or a Brooks Hoka.  I think I would hate Hokas based on my body's response to these, but that's just me.  I really like shoes that are firmer, have little to no toe spring and are responsive.  The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 14 (current trainer), the Saucony Fastwitch 6, the Brooks Racer ST5 (my current tempo/longer race shoe) are are responsive and on the firmer side.  I really like the new Mizuno line for those same reasons.  The Wave Sayonara (which I have worn.  Review on the way), the Rider 17 and Inspire 10 are all awesome.  Plus they have great toebox width and shapes.  So check those out too if you're like me.

   Again though, everyone is different.  If you have a medium width foot, like a really soft ride and are a heavy heel striker, check these out.  I know plenty of people that love this shoe, swear by them and wear them everywhere.  I personally am looking forward to the Brooks Ghost 7.  Why?  Because Brooks is switching it to a DNA-BioMogo midsole mix (instead of the separate DNA) like the Ravenna 5.  From the short time I tried the Ravenna 5, that combination is much more responsive, but still protective.  So stay tuned.  Plus that toebox looks better too.

Thanks for reading!

These were a personal purchase and as always, my thoughts are my own.

Tack On!

-Matt Klein, SPT

*Images obtained directly from the Brooks Running website.  Head over to your local running specialty store to check them out!

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