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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Welcome to our guide to Brooks Running footwear! Brooks has been a leader among specialty running for years thanks to their focus on the recreational runner and step-in comfort. Their technology focuses on maximizing the runner's unique movement path, providing semi-customized cushioning and a variety of fits for each runner's individual needs. They have a vast road line with variations on the same shoe for different fits and levels of stability. Brooks continues to have the most extensive line of stability shoes on the market from faster shoes up to motion control shoes, which is rare in today's footwear landscape. Being a Seattle-based company, they also have a strong focus on sustainability and keep the environment in mind with the development of their footwear. In this feature, we will cover Brooks's history, unique technology, and their current running shoe lineup.

Guide to Brooks Running Shoes
Written and Edited by Content Manager Bach Pham and Founder Matt Klein

About Brooks Running

Brooks Headquarters
Beginnings. Brooks has an interesting history of starting in ballet shoes back in 1914. They transitioned through different types of footwear, from baseball to softball cleats. Things shifted as running increased in popularity in the early 1970s and Brooks began their transition to running shoes. Shortly after, they achieved success with the Vantage, which was one of the first shoes to use EVA. Their early shoes pushed the use of varus wedges, heel counters and other methods to address pronation. This eventually progressed to medial posting and unique dual-density outsoles also specifically designed for stability. The pinnacles of stability came with the Brooks Beast and the Adrenaline GTS in the 90s, which are still around to this day. Brooks made their full commitment to running in 2001 and clearly have not looked back since. 

Run Happy. The "Run Happy" slogan has been a staple of Brooks for years. There is a specific focus on attempting to make the most comfortable footwear possible. This is combined with a long-term commitment to that with 90-day wear and return policy. Where this Run Happy slogan has really come to life is focusing on the typical runner. While Brooks racing shoes have struggled a bit recently, their in line walking and running shoes continue to be one of the most commonly worn among the public for a variety of reasons. For long term standing, work, walking, running and more, Brooks commitment to comfort is clear. 

Run Responsibly (Sustainability). For years, Brooks has been focused on green technology and sustainability. What started with the Green Silence has now been integrated into all their shoes. This concept of sustainability extends into several areas. Climate action, reduced consumption, and reduced inequalities among human beings have all been major focuses as they try to push for a healthier planet.  One of Brooks biggest moves in the space was the development of their "Restart" used shoe section, which aims to reduce the waste of used shoes by offering returned footwear that is still in good condition a second life for runners at a greatly reduced cost.

Blueline Lab. Brook's unique research lab where they experiment with new technology. A variety of scientists and biomechanists have spent years looking ahead at what is coming next. Several research studies have come out of this lab in collaboration with a variety of universities. Brooks has also had a strong integration of recent research on the preferred movement pathway and comfort paradigms in footwear, further examples of their commitment to future development.

Brooks Running Technology to Know

Brooks Shoe Categories. Brooks has four categories of shoes their shoes fall in: cushion, energize, speed, and trail. The cushioned focuses on comfort (Ghost, Glycerin, etc.), while the energize models are focused on having a little more firmness and faster transitions for daily training (Revel, Levitate, etc.). The speed models are their lightest and most workout/racing oriented shoes (Hyperion, Hyperion Elite, etc.), while the trail shoes are... well they are trail shoes!

GuideRails Support System.
Brooks signature stability system, the GuideRails are a combination of sidewalls and posting that encourages the foot to be centered and going as forward as possible.

GTS. Short for Go-To-Support, this is the label Brooks adds to shoes when GuideRails are incorporated. Recently, Brooks rebranded their line to help simplify decisions, adding GTS to models to signify what neutral shoe they were similar to. (Ravenna, for example, became the Launch GTS)

BioMogo DNA.
Brooks signature EVA found in most budget models currently.

DNA Loft v3.
All DNA models feature a nitrogen-infused EVA. The Loft series is focused on cushioning. The Ghost and Glycerin are examples where this foam is seen.

DNA Amp. The energy focused version of DNA, it is tuned a little more different to be faster off the ground than Loft, rather than softer. Seen in their Energize models, particularly the Levitate.

DNA Flash.
The lightest variation of DNA seen in their faster speed-day shoes. This can be found in the Hyperion series.

Ballistic Rock Shield. Found in their trail shoes it is a thermoplastic EVA that sits between the outsole and midsole for protection against rocks and sharp objects.

Trail Adaptive System.
Seen in their Cascadia, it is the combination of the Rock Shield with an aggressive lug design and their midsole that works together for stability.

Breaking Down the Brooks Running Line

Road Shoes from Brooks Running
Anthem 6
(Budget) - Brooks lowest cost running shoe. For those who want a very low stack, high ground feel shoe for slow running.
Revel 6 (Neutral budget - springy) - Part of the trilogy of $100 shoes offered, the Revel is a lower stacked shoe that provides a stiff sole throughout that is a little more inherently stable than the Launch.
Trace (Neutral budget - 12mm) - The Trace offers a taller 12mm stacked offering over the Revel and Launch which are 8mm.
Launch 10 (Neutral budget - flexible) - The Launch provides the most flexible, neutral option of the trilogy of $100 shoes, providing a versatile ride for daily training and mild workouts.
Ghost 16 (Neutral Daily Trainer) - A perennial best-selling model in the run-retail space, the Ghost is known for comfortably mild cushioning and comfortable fit that makes it an easy choice for new and old runners alike.
Ghost Max (Orthotic Friendly Max Stack Height Daily Trainer) - Brooks' first max cushioned, rockered shoe for daily training and longer efforts. First released in 2023.
Launch GTS (Lightweight Stability Trainer) - The Launch GTS uses a very mild GuideRail to provide additional guidance to the Launch and adds a lot of inherent stability.
Adrenaline GTS 23 (Stability Daily Trainer) - Brooks' premier stability trainer, featuring their signature GuideRail technology. The rails are fairly large here, providing a moderately high level of guidance.
Levitate 6 (Firmer/Springy Neutral Daily Trainer) - The most cushioned shoe on Brooks' springy line of trainers, featuring a surprisingly fun ride for everyday training.
Levitate 6 GTS (Firmer/Springy Neutral Daily Trainer) - The stability version of the Levitate, with GuideRails.
Glycerin 21 (Premium Cushioned Daily Trainer) - Brooks most cushioned daily training model, focusing on comfort.
Glycerin GTS 21 (Premium Cushioned Stability Daily Trainer) - The stability version of the Glycerin, with GuideRails incorporated.
Beast GTS (Motion Control - Max Stability Daily Trainer) - The Beast uniquely has the highest level of stability in the market today, with massive GuideRails and a wide base for an ultra stable ride. This shoe is also known as Ariel for women's models.

Trail Shoes from Brooks Running
Divide 4 (Neutral Budget Trail Shoe) - A great budget option for runners who want to dabble in trail for the first time. Not a super technical shoe, but a good option for mild trail running
Cascadia 17 (Neutral Trail Shoe) - Brooks' most traditional trail shoe. Extremely protective all-around and good for easy trail miles
Caldera 7 (Maximal Cushioning Trail Shoe) - A very highly cushioned trail shoe for long and easy efforts
Catamount 3 (Neutral Trail Performance/Racing Shoe) - Brooks' lightest trail shoe, built for faster runs and race day.

Performance Shoes from Brooks Running
Hyperion (Neutral Uptempo/Faster Shoe) - A very light and neutral trainer for workouts.
Hyperion GTS (Stability Uptempo/Faster Shoe) - Combining a lightweight foam with Brooks GuideRails, the GTS offers the lightest stability performance option in the market for workouts and race day.
Hyperion Max (Neutral Cushioned Uptempo/Faster Shoe) - A light and highly versatile shoe for those that also wants a good amount of cushioning underfoot as well for longer efforts.
Hyperion Elite 3 (Carbon Plated Racing Shoe) - Brooks' racing shoe for 5k-marathon. It features a firmer ride, but uniquely stable as well.

Science Feature: Lateral Sole Flare in the Forefoot
By Andrea Myers

One of the features I appreciate in the Brooks Hyperion Max is the lateral sole flare in the forefoot. Due in part to many ankle sprains over my lifetime from trail running and basketball, I tend to land excessively on my lateral midfoot on both feet. More recently, I have had difficulty loading my left 1st MTP joint since a bad sprain during a 15 mile trail race a few years ago. I find shoes that have lateral sole flare in the forefoot help me to land a little less severely laterally and help me push off properly at my left 1st MTP. 

How does forefoot sole flare work? You can think of sole flare as a bumper that resists motion - if the midsole is wider than the upper in a lateral direction (towards the little toe), then it will resist forefoot motion in that direction. Specifically, it resists forefoot inversion, or rolling out. The Hyperion Max has both medial and lateral forefoot sole flare, but the lateral sole flare appears wider than the medial sole flare. This, in combination with the shoe’s forefoot rocker and the overall stiffness of the forefoot, helps load the 1st MTP and then guides the foot into push off.

Lateral forefoot sole flare in running shoes is not the only thing that helps with my foot and ankle issue. I also work on strengthening my ankle evertors (particularly peroneus longus), work on single leg stability on various surfaces, including a Mobo Board, which is designed to train you to load the 1st MTP in single leg stance; and of course continue to work on whole-body strength and stability. If you are experiencing a similar issue to mine, remember that shoes are tools, but they are rarely the only tool that you need to solve a running-related problem. Optimizing both your equipment and your body is the key to improving your running performance.

Our Shoe Recommendations to Try

Best Daily Trainer: Brooks Ghost Max | Review
The Brooks Ghost Max is a maximal stack height, orthotic-friendly daily trainer for those who want the classic and reliable Brooks fit/ride with a taller stack height. A slightly wider and more comfortable fit runs throughout the length of the shoe with room for an orthotic. A large amount of DNA Loft V2 sits in the midsole, providing a soft and compliant ride underneath. A wide, straight last sits underneath with a filled-in midfoot that provides mild guidance without getting in the way. A great option for those wanting a maximalist, lower-drop Brooks shoe, the Brooks Ghost Max fills a unique and much needed niche in this company's line up.

Best Stability Trainer: Launch GTS 10 | Review

Recently Brooks made a big shift, moving over some models that had their own names and instead matching them to their neutral trainers to provide regular and "Go to Support (GTS)" versions. Formally known as the Ravenna, the Launch GTS offers a mild stability counterpart to the Launch. Call me crazy, but despite being very simple and traditional all-around, this shoe is one of the most consistent and... enjoyable (!) rides I've tried all year. It delivers exactly what it promises as a low profile daily trainer with mild stability, nothing more, nothing less.

Best Stability Racing Shoe: Hyperion GTS | Review

The Brooks Hyperion GTS is a mild stability lightweight trainer/racer for those who want something a little closer to the ground for faster efforts. A full-length DNA flash midsole is paired with guiderails making for a guided, flexible and snappy ride. A low-volume performance fit with a slightly wider forefoot sits up top making for a secure, snug and comfortable fit. Best for those yearning for mild stability wanting a lightweight trainer, workout or racing shoe, the Hyperion GTS is now the "sole" contender in the sub 8 oz mild stability racing category.

Best Performance Trainer (and all-time Andrea shoe): Hyperion Max | Review

The Brooks Hyperion Max is a lightweight, rockered performance trainer that is equally comfortable at easy and uptempo paces. The nitrogen-infused DNA FLASH midsole provides ample underfoot protection while retaining a snappy and responsive ride. The rearfoot and forefoot rockers, which Brooks calls Rapid Roll technology, contribute to smooth transitions without forcing motion. Andrea has been asking the shoe universe to send me a replacement for her beloved, discontinued New Balance Beacon, and this shoe helped fill the void. The Hyperion Max is a great option for runners looking for a lightweight trainer that can handle uptempo paces and easy miles.

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Thanks for reading!

More Shoe Brand Guides

Beginner's Guide to Running Shoes: Are you a brand new runner and unsure where to start? Visit this guide first to get started.
Stability Shoe Resource Page: Our comprehensive guide to stability shoes and alternatives for neutral runners as well
Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes Resource Page: Want to go as fast as possible for race day? Visit this page for all of our super shoe reviews
Guide to Walking Shoes: Featuring some science behind walking and the best running shoes for walking based on our everyday testing and clinical experience working with patients.
Getting the Right Fit: Unsure if your shoe fits? Visit this page to help you determine how to find the right shoe for your feet. Comfort is one of the most important things we emphasize at Doctors of Running before you get out the door and on the road. Sometimes the right shoe for you is not what works for many others. That is why it is important to try different shoes when you can to get a better understanding of works best for your needs.
Beginner's Guide to Nutrition/Hydration: Guest writer Jennifer Giles (Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist) helps bring a new guide for fueling to Doctors of Running as part of our summer hydration series.
Ultimate Guide to Hydration Products for Runners: We review 10+ hydration products that may help you on your running adventure.
Best Affordable Running Shoes: We compiled a list of the most affordable options you can find in the market today. Updated monthly.

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