Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctor(s) of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance to bring you cutting edge reviews, science and knowledge.

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Reebok Forever FloatRide Energy Review

The Forever FloatRide Energy -- what I have come to see as the "value" shoe of the Reebok line. The combination of the price with the shoe's overall versatility make it feel more than worth what you will pay for it, especially if you wait for Reebok to put out a promo code. The versatility is great with a light, smooth, and responsive feel that can handle a lot of what you throw at it.  However, I have found things to consider before making this your "go-to" shoe for every day running.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.0 oz
Stack Height: 29mm (heel) - 19mm (forefoot)
Drop: 10mm
Classification: Lightweight Performance/Daily Trainer

FIT/UPPER
I had a difficult time with the fit of this shoe at first. I ended up ordering a half size smaller than normal (usually I am a size 9 and I ordered an 8.5). Length-wise it fit well, but the upper felt a bit restrictive around the forefoot (near the metatarsal heads) and it even felt like my foot was wanting to spill over the edge of the more narrow toe box. I wish I could take the width of my normal shoe size and the length of a half size down, then the fit would be perfect.



That brings us to the upper, which is a simple engineered mesh with some overlays to reinforce the midfoot just a bit. When I first put it on and walked around, it just felt cheap and had almost a plastic feel to it. Once I got running it performed great. Light, breathable, and disappears on your foot. It isn't the softest upper, but it does accommodate the foot well enough for the toes to splay. It held my foot in place really well at all paces.


The only other thing of note is that heel cup has a slightly higher collar posteriorly that did irritate my achilles on the first run.  After that I did not have any further problems (and I always wear 1/4 length socks).

RIDE/MIDSOLE
Smooth. Smooth. Smooth. I really enjoyed running in this shoe. For as cheap as the upper initially felt, the TPU midsole hit the sweet spot of cushion and responsiveness. It feels so light on the foot and the slight rocker along the outsole of the shoe helps the transition from the heel through the forefoot feel great. The slightly higher drop of 10mm also led to faster transitions onto the forefoot and I found I spent more time at the mid to forefoot during stance. I'll go into this later, but there is also a posterior flare that has an impact on the faster transition to the mid/forefoot for those who heel strike. It kept the smooth ride at slow paces up to high tempo paces and never felt clunky. Firmer than boost but softer than QU!KFOAM, it was a great feel under the foot.


The only issue I had with the ride was during toe off, but we will dig into this in the "stability", "durability", and "thoughts as a DPT"  sections, as my issues lie more in how those categories affected the ride over time.

STABILITY

This shoe is light, and one of the ways that Reebok kept it that way is taking away some stability aspects that can accompany neutral shoes. It has a softer heel cup, a more narrow forefoot platform that the foot sits on (tried to show that in the picture above), a thin rubber outsole, and no reinforcement to the midsole. None of these things are necessarily bad, but there is nothing making this neutral trainer specifically stable over longer runs that could assist when I was getting fatigued. Over longer runs I could feel the increase in the give of the foam and it became a bit less responsive, leading to feelings of instability primarily during toe off.



SPEED
The Forever FloatRide energy handled everything I threw at it: longer casual runs, long tempo runs, and shorter tempo runs (for reference, my tempo is around a 6-6:30/mile). In fact, I actually ran a PR half marathon during an intermittent tempo run by over a minute in these bad boys (1:33:34). Oh, and my best 5K time (19:22). Obviously my training towards breaking the 1.5 hour half plays the major role in these PRs, but the shoes felt great during the entire run.



DURABILITY
The durability of the outsole has been surprisingly good. I have 57.7 miles on mine so far without any sign of wear of the blown rubber. I will say that I have already started noticing some flattening of the foam and decreased responsiveness. I have started to feel increased pressure along the head of the first metatarsal nearing the end of longer runs related to the flattening of the foam given more stance time spent in the forefoot. I am a lighter runner (155 lbs.) and have a lighter gait, so this is not typically an issue for me. The shoe still feels great, but it has been a noticeable change in the foam.



I think one area to really consider if this is the trainer for you is the versatility of the outsole. I live in Stevens Point, WI and do a majority of my running on the Green Circle Trail (https://greencircletrail.org/). This trail is beautiful and I would join anyone for a run if you were driving through...not that Stevens Point is a big destination for travel. It is primarily packed gravel through the woods, and unfortunately I could feel every loose piece of gravel underfoot and would not recommend getting these as your daily trainer if you do most of your running even on the lightest of trails. Most other road shoes do well on the Green Circle, so I was disappointed in the discomfort when wearing the FFE.



THOUGHTS AS A DPT 
I wanted to dig into a possible reason why the foam began to give at the first metatarsal head (the ball of the big toe). First, a typical progression of the center of pressure (COP) under the foot, whether you are a heel striker or mid/forefoot striker, will end in with the center of pressure traveling from lateral to medial before resupinating during final toe off. But let's talk about heel strikers for a minute (which is what I am). Typical heel strikers land on the posterolateral aspect of the foot. Depending on the make-up of the shoe, the transfer of the COP may happen more rapidly. One of those components that effects this is any sort of posterior or lateral flare (pictured below with comparison to 361 Meraki 2). A posterior flare is going to create a longer lever arm posterior to the talocrural joint (ankle joint mainly associated with dorsiflexion and plantarflexion), leading to a multiplied increase of plantarflexion torque. This brings the toes toward the ground more quickly. Likewise, a lateral flare is going to create a longer lateral lever arm, creating a high eversion (component of pronation) torque around the subtalar joint (a joint within the foot which is a main contributor to pronation/supination). Combine these two together and you can get the potential for a fast transition to the medial aspect of the mid/forefoot if you cannot control the exterior torque.




Given the flares noted in the FFE, this is what may be contributing to the breakdown of the foam under the first metatarsal head (ball of the big toe). The faster transition led to more time spent with the COP over the first metatarsal head, and therefore breakdown of that region of the shoe first. One consequence of the foam breaking down in this area is a change in the demanded great toe extension required during toe off. Normally we use 60 deg of great toe extension, which helps activate the Windlass mechanism and create a rigid lever for propulsion. However, when the foam broke down, it required excess great toe extension due to the first metatarsal head sitting closer to the ground. I found that over longer runs (>13 miles), I would have irritation in the metatarsal phalangeal joint (big toe joint) of the great toe, possibly because the increased motion required. The irritation was very mild, but as a doctor of physical therapy I work to critically assess reasons that either training, strength deficits, motion deficits, or footwear may be contributing to onset of pain.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)



The Forever FloatRide Energy is a really fun neutral trainer that has an extremely smooth ride on the road and has the ability to really pick up the pace. It packs a ton of value at its price point and with it's versatility in speed. Before picking this up as your daily trainer, consider your needs for stability (even in a neutral trainer) and what surfaces you are primarily on. For newer runners trying to build up milage towards their first half marathon/marathon or for heavier runners, this may not be the best choice for you. However, for experienced runners and those who have a good handle on their needs for stability, this may be a top addition to your shoe rotation for some mid to longer tempo days.

GRADING

Fit/Upper          8.5/10 (-1.5 for length/width ratio and stiffer upper)
Ride/Midsole    10/10
Stability            8.5/10 (-1.5 for narrow platform, foam changes, lack of rigid heel for daily trainer)
Speed                10/10
Durability          8.5/10 (-1.5 for changes in foam)

Total Score: 91%

Thanks for reading!

Dr. Nathan Brown PT DPT MS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Masters in Anatomy and Clinical Health Science
Movement Performance Institute Certified in Advanced Functional Biomechanics

Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were purchased at full price from Reebok.com.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We put at least 50-75 miles on trainers and 10-25 miles on racing flats prior to reviewing them. Currently I have 100 miles on my pair. My views are based on my extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.


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