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.

Monday, August 19, 2019

361 Degrees Strata 3 Review

361 Degrees Strata 3 Review

The number of high level stability shoes is on a slow decline as we begin an exploration into what exactly stability means and how we (if at all) influence the motion of the foot.  With further understanding of foot mechanics, it is exciting to see companies listening and further implementing other methods to create a stable ride.  The Strata 3 is a fantastic example of companies like 361 listening to this.   The 361 Degree Strata 3 is a complete redesign that improves the ride, fit and stability without the addition of extra posting or traditional measures.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 11.6 oz (men's size 9)
Stack Height: 28mm / 20 mm (forefoot / heel)
Drop: 8mm
Classification: Premium High Stability Trainer

HIGHLIGHTS

A new beveled heel, full ground outsole and a better fitting forefoot creates a a new solid, stable ride that will take keep you going for miles.  A firmer ride further contributes to the stability while new deeper flex grooves improve flexibility and the forefoot transition from midfoot forward.  With all the improvements, the Strata 3 is still on the heavy side, making it great for long and easy runs, but causes problems picking the speed up.  However, the sturdiness of the shoe, firmness and full ground contact outsole make it great for a new purpose: trail running.



FIT

As with most 361 shoes, I went with a 2E width.  This provided plenty of room throughout the shoe without making it sloppy.  The normal width will work very well for those with narrow feet, however those with wider feet will definitely need the 2E.  Length wise, my pair of size 10 was dead on.  There was a perfect amount of room between my toes and the end of the shoe.  There is more room in the forefoot thanks to the update mesh, slightly more width and the removal of the toe guard.  The toe box does taper like previous versions, so I had a little pressure on my big toe.  Thanks to the 2E width and slight increase in forefoot width, it was less prevalent than previous.  I only noticed this on my first run then it went away. 


The MORPHIT lacing system does a great job of locking the foot down without causing too much pressure along the midfoot.  I have utilized the Strata 3 for a good number of trail runs and never had any slippage issues even when going around tight corners.  The heel collar has a good deal of cushioning that hides a sturdy, firm heel counter.  Thanks to the additional cushioning, I did not feel the heel collar giving me additional issues, but for those that are more sensitive to pressure on their heel bone, be aware that it is prominent.


RIDE

The ride of the Strata 3 is definitely on the firmer side, particularly at the midfoot.  This is not a soft premium stability shoe, but a firm and stable one.  A thick layer of  QU!KFOAM sits on top of an EVA midsole.  The QU!KFOAM does not contribute to a responsive ride as it does in other shoes, as the Strata 3 is extremely firm from heel to forefoot.  The midfoot is extremely stiff thanks to a midfoot shank that extends into the medial midfoot post.  It is a little jarring over the first 30-40 miles as it breaks in and feels like a bit of a speed bump initially.  However, the heel landings are far improved thanks to a new heel bevel.  Combined with the 8mm drop and full ground contact outsole, the overly stiff midfoot is offset by the smoother heel and forefoot.  The forefoot flexibility is great thanks to additional flex grooves in the forefoot.  Due to the combination of firmness and forefoot flexibility, the ground feel is very good for a premium stability shoe.  This helps the Strata 3 excel on trails, however I have found that the QU!KFOAM actually provides good cushioning against harsh rocks without the need for a rock plate.


STABILITY

As with many stability shoes, there is a medial post present in the midfoot.  For a premium stability shoe, the post is fairly small.  Additionally, the midfoot shank extends medially into the post, further stiffening the medial side of the shoe.  The firmer ride, midfoot shank and great forefoot flexibility create a very stable ride in the heel and midfoot while the flexible forefoot rolls forward nicely.  The addition of new heel bevel and an 8mm heel drop further adds to a push in the forward direction. For those sensitive to medial posts, know that the post is very subtle.  I have not felt the post during any of my runs and notice the firm stable ride far more than anything trying to push my foot in a certain direction.  So for those wanting a stable ride without an obtrusive feeling post, the Strata 3 is definitely worth a look.


SPEED

While the firmer ride and carbon fiber midfoot shank provide a stable ride, the 11.6 oz weight limits the Strata 3 to long runs and recovery runs.  This is a very heavy shoe that will certainly protect you over long runs and even rocky terrain, but is too weighed to pick up the pace.  Thanks to the stable ride, the Strata 3 works best for easy and long runs.


DURABILITY

As with most 361 shoes, the durability of the outsole is on the higher end thanks to extensive blown rubber.  Over half the miles I have put on the Strata 3 have been on rocky trails and aggressive terrain.  The outsole has held up decently over the +50 miles with only a little wear on the posterior lateral heel (normal for me).  The midfoot shank is starting to break in and took about 40 miles to feel a little less stiff.  The firm ride has maintained with no loss or bottoming out.  The double Jaquard mesh has stretched a little to accommodate my feet, but there are zero signs of wear along the upper despite the trail use.  Overall I expect an above average amount of durability from the Strata 3, likely putting it above the 300-500 mile range.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT 

The midfoot shank of the Strata 3 is interesting.  It is centrally located in the midfoot, yet extends into the medial post.  The shank extends in segments, which I believe was an attempt to maintain some kind of flexibility.  It certainly reinforces the medial post, but I think creates too much stiffness on the medial side of the shoe.  Most of the large ligaments of the foot are in the sagittal plane (front to back).  The only ligaments in the frontal plane (side to side) are the small inter tarsal ligaments between the cuneiforms, cuboid and navicular bones.   A certain amount of stiffness in the foot is needed, however too much can create a problem by completely stopping motion.  Although we thought for a long time that an excessively mobile foot was the highest risk for injury, the opposite has also shown to be true.  We do need some level of movement or pronation to properly absorb shock (Nigg et al 2001).  A high, stiff, rigid arch has been shown to be particularly at risk for stress related injuries due to a lack of the ability to properly shock absorb (Barnes et al, 2007).  Meanwhile, there is some evidence that excessive mobility also has its own set of injury risks, particularly Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (Yates & White, 2004). 


Knowing that extremes on either side of the equation cause problems, stayed balance in the middle is likely the optimal route to go.  There is an optimal amount of stiffness and flexibility that each person needs.  Each person's foot has unique motion and different movement requirements.  Dr. Benno Nigg has written extensively on the fact that each foot has its own path of preferred movement that must be respected (Nigg et al 2017).  Called the Preferred Movement Path Paradigm, footwear should be designed to help guide the foot by working with that person's individual gait pattern, rather than forcing it to do something that doesn't line up with their biomechanics.  This is also why it is so difficult to answer the often asked question, "What's the best shoe on the market?"  The answer is, it depends on your body!  For those that need a ton of stiffness, the medial post combined with the extensions from the midfoot shank may be what they need.  For others that need more motion, this may not be the right shoe for them.


RECOMMENDATIONS 

As much as I want to like this shoe, the weight and stiffness of the midfoot make this a far better trail shoe than road shoe.  I highly suggest that 361 bring the weight down on the Strata 3.  12 oz is almost unheard of in today's lighter weight road shoes.  And the stiff ride, while great on trails, is not optimal for long road miles.  I highly suggest modifying the placement of carbon shank.  The extension into the medial post creates too stiff a ride that takes away from the forward transition.  It feels like you are almost going over a speed bump and that would benefit from being smoothed out.


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

For the runner looking for a firm stable shoe without a large post but with a snugger fit and lower drop, the Strata 3 is your shoe.  A stiff and firm ride that works well on both road and trail, this shoe provides many methods of stability outside of traditional methods.  A great shoe for runners going long or easy.


GRADING

Fit                     8/10 (Improved Forefoot width, but still tapered at toe box, requires 2E)
Ride                  7.5/10 (Stiff and Heavy Ride.  Points for new heel bevel and flexible forefoot)
Stability            9.5/10 (High marks for stable ride, -0.5 for inability to feel post)
Speed                6/10 (Extremely heavy ride despite firmness)
Durability          9/10 (Great outsole durability despite trail use)

Total Score: 80%

Thanks for reading!

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.

Matthew Klein, PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Board Certified Orthopedic Clinical Specialist
Fellow of the American Academy of Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapists

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at 361 for sending us a pair.  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 55 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.

References
1. Barnes, A., Wheat, J., Milner, C. (2007). Association between foot type and tibial stress injuries: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine: 42: 93-98
2.  Nigg, B.  (2001).  The Role Of Impact Forces and Pronation: A new Paradigm.  Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine: 11(1): 2-9.
3.  Nigg, B., Vienneau, J., Smith, A., Trudeau, M., Mohr, M., Nigg S.  (2017).  The Preferred Movement Path Paradigm: Influence of Running Shoes on Joint Movement.  Medicine and Science in Sports & Exercise; 49(8): 1641-1648
4. Yates, B., White., S. (2004).  The Incidence and Risk Factors in the Development of Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome Among Naval Recruits.  The American Journal of Sports Medicine, 32(3): 772-780


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