Clinical Analysis of Running, Running Footwear, and Injury Prevention/Performance. The Doctors of Running, using knowledge of human movement, clinical biomechanics and performance, bring you cutting edge articles, reviews, and research reports.

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 Review
By Matt Klein

The Asics Gel-Cumulus series is a quiet, consistent daily trainer within the Asics line-up. Billed as the more traditional trainer compared to the more cushioned/premium Nimbus series, the Cumulus has been a staple for those looking to rack up miles and get training in. Ahead of many Asics shoes with the change to a full ground contact outsole 3-4 years ago, the newest version makes some changes to soften the ride, widen the fit and make it a bit more accommodating. Subtle updates continue the tradition of consistency, so previous Cumulus wearers have no major reason for concern.


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 9.9 oz / 280 g (men's size 9) 8.1 oz / 230 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 23 mm / 13 mm
Drop: 10 mm
Classification: Daily Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 is a very traditional daily trainer with some new age nuances. A surprisingly plush and soft upper provides a secure heel and slightly snug but flexible forefoot. A flexible forefoot and smooth midfoot provide a very nice transition through the front half of the shoe. Some posterior heel flare makes for a bit of a clunky heel, but those used to the more traditional Asics heel will feel right at home. A very durable and consistent training shoe that is best for daily training miles, the Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 makes small tweaks from Version 22 to keep the tradition.


FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

The Gel-Cumulus 23 fits me mostly true to size, maybe slightly short, in my normal US men's size 10. The heel is fairly snug, which is fairly traditional for Asics. This is due both to the slightly snug fit and the very padded collar. There is a large amount of padding around the heel, which does an excellent job of protecting the calcaneus (heel bone) from the solid heel counter. I did not notice the heel counter while running or wearing these while teaching all day, so the padding does its job. The midfoot is also somewhat snug, but reacts very well to the laces. The tongue is free floating outside of being tied into the laces and is padded. The midfoot and heel are very secure due to these attributes. I had no slippage issues and did not have to lace lock the heel. The forefoot is a bit more normal in width, but the toebox is slightly tapered. This causes the shoe to fit slightly short during the initial try on, but the engineered mesh breaks in within a mile or so. The mesh is extremely comfortable and adapts well to the foot.

It is also very comfortable against bare skin and I have been able to wear this shoe sockless up to 10 miles without issue. Overall the upper fits slightly snug, is very secure, stretches to accommodate slightly different foot sizes (there is a wide version if necessary) and is very comfortable against bare skin.


PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)


The Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 has a slightly cushioned ride with a moderately flexible and smooth toe off. The ride is slightly softer in the heel, however the significant posterior heel flare makes for a slightly abrupt heel contact and transition. There is a 10mm heel drop which is more noticeable due to the posterior heel flare. The midfoot transition into the forefoot is fairly smooth thanks to the full ground contact midsole. This continues into a decently flexible forefoot thanks to extensive flex grooves and some well placed, moderate toe spring. For those that land a little farther forward, the ride is very smooth with a mildly soft landing. For those landing farther back, the ride is a bit abrupt and clunky. The durability however is fantastic. I have almost 45 miles on my pair and there is no sign of wear on the outsole. The traction is also decent and grips well even on dirt and wet road. Use wise these are best for training miles. While the front of the shoe is fairly smooth and may do well for some strides or uptempo work, the ride overall is more relaxed. They are a bit clunky when trying to pick up the pace and the cushioning is better for protection than trying to pick up the pace. Better options for fast days include the Asics Noosa Tri 13 (REVIEW), ASICS Hyperspeed (REVIEW) or the ASICS Magic Speed (REVIEW). The Asics Gel-Cumulus is a consistent trainer and works better complimenting the above shoes, rather than trying to compete with them.


STABILITY

The Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 is a neutral shoe. There are no major components that provide stability. The deep flex grooves in the forefoot do help with the transition up front. The large guidance line throughout the sole provides a little more assistance as the pace picks up, however this has a great effect in the front than the wider aspect in the heel. The abrupt heel transition does make the most rear portion of the heel a bit unstable as the posterior lateral flare does cause a faster degree of pronation due to the ankle going through a greater arc of motion. The midfoot also narrows a great deal, although is slightly offset by the guidance line. This is not a stability shoe in any form. Those wanting stability shoe look at the Kayano Lite (REVIEW) or GT 2000 (REVIEW).


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE
 
     ASICS has been doing well in footwear design recently. Many of their shoes are now gender specific, meaning the shapes, foam designs and flex grooves are specific to the unique biomechanics of each genders mechanics. There is plenty of evidence that joints, biomechanics, bone structures and overall shapes are different between genders (Ferrari et al., 2004; Krauss et al., 2008; Luo et al., 2009; Wunderlich & Cavanagh, 2001). This is particularly important in the forefoot as the flex grooves need to line up with the metatarsophalangeal joints (toe joints). If this is not lined up well, there may be excessive pressure into the ligaments, small muscles, tendons, bones and the anterior portion of the plantar fascia. So having gender specific flex grooves, shapes and cushioning is important.

    However, where there continues to be challenges is with something we have discussed extensively on this website. Posterior heel flare, specifically posterior lateral heel flare. While medial and lateral heel flare can provide some stability, excessive lateral heel flare will cause an early initial contact for heel strikers (which account for over 70% of runners, including elites (Larson et al., 2011)). You hit the ground early because the lateral heel flare extends farther out and causes the shoe to contact the ground at an earlier point than normal. Landing early means you hit the ground before your muscles are ready, which normally activate prior to landing in preparation for impact and shock absorption. For lateral heel flare, this creates a greater arc of motion for the foot to go through, which is compensated for by the foot moving through this motion faster than normal. The subtalar joint is one of the primary joint this motion, called eversion (which is part of pronation), occurs at. During the initial contact or landing phase of running, all the muscles are being lengthened under tension attempting to absorb the shock of impact. This muscular motion is called an eccentric motion. A fast eccentric motion creates one of the highest levels of tension through muscles and tendons. If a person has exceptionally strong muscles to control this (specifically the posterior and anterior tibialis among a few other muscles), then they will be fine. However, most people do not have this level of strength to handle this much tension over long miles. This ends up placing way more tension through the muscles that control eversion and pronation than necessary, potentially placing them at risk for injury. This only requires a little bit of over-training,  or a couple training errors to overwork these structures. This can easily be fixed, either by reducing the flare, increasing the bevel or drastically decreasing the density of the foam at this point (creating a better crash pad). So this is very fixable, but right now this shoe is best for those who tend to land farther forward.

-Dr. Matthew Klein PT DPT OCS FAAOMPT

References


Ferrari, J., Hopkinson, D. A., & Linney, A. D. (2004). Size and shape differences between male and female foot bones: is the female foot predisposed to hallux abducto valgus deformity?. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 94(5), 434-452.

Krauss, I., Grau, S., Mauch, M., Maiwald, C., & Horstmann, T. (2008). Sex-related differences in foot shape. Ergonomics, 51(11), 1693-1709. 

Larson, P., Higgins, E., Kaminski, J., Decker, T., Preble, J., Lyons, D., ... & Normile, A. (2011). Foot strike patterns of recreational and sub-elite runners in a long-distance road race. Journal of Sports Sciences, 29(15), 1665-1673. 

Luo, G., Houston, V. L., Mussman, M., Garbarini, M., Beattie, A. C., & Thongpop, C. (2009). Comparison of male and female foot shape. Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, 99(5), 383-390.

Wunderlich, R. E., & Cavanagh, P. R. (2001). Gender differences in adult foot shape: implications for shoe design. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 33(4), 605-611.


RECOMMENDATIONS

Overall I found this shoe more comfortable for walking than running for me due to the issues with the posterior/lateral heel flare. We have talked about extended posterior flare and I do understand that some companies think this increases the ground contact time, which MAY (but is not supported by any available evidence I am aware of) decrease the peak forces (not overall). However, that requires a substantial heel bevel. The heel is the only gripe I have with this shoe (although it is major) outside of maybe slowing the rate of taper at the toebox. Asics is very capable of executing a great bevel (as evident by the Hyper Speed, Magic Speed, METASPEED Sky and more) and I do not see a reason why they have not included here. They could add a bevel, they could soften the durometer of the posterior lateral foam more so it compresses easier. There are many things they can do. They just need to do SOMETHING! Outside of that, for those that land farther forward, this is a comfortable shoe.


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

The Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 is a traditional trainer with a slightly snug, very comfortable upper and a great ride for those who land a bit more forward. The upper is very secure and has a tiny bit of wiggle room in the forefoot. However, the toebox tapers a little, so those with wider feet may want to try the wide or wait for the upper to break in. The ride is slightly soft with enough cushion for daily miles. The ride is not very responsive and will serve best as a daily trainer and companion shoe to something faster. The forefoot transition is very smooth, making this shoe best for those who land farther forward. A clunky heel prevents this shoe from being a bit more versatile, but the incredible durability will keep this shoe going for miles for those whom it works for.


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt

Fit: A- (Secure, slightly snug fit. Toebox is slightly tapered but does stretch. Upper comfortable against bare skin)              
Performance: B- (Very smooth midfoot and heel. Heel is very clunky and borderline unpleasant) 
Stability: B- (Neutral shoe. However narrow midfoot and posterior/lateral heel flare creates excessive load/instability) 
DPT/Footwear Science: B (Great points for gender specific shoes, minus points for poor heel execution) 
Personal:  C+ (I want to like this shoe, but the heel absolutely killed this. These are relegated to work shoes) 
Overall: B- (Great shoe for midfoot/forefoot strikers. Heel strikers should look elsewhere. Very nice fit but clunky heel)   
  
          
Interested in the Asics Cumulus 23? Visit Running Warehouse here. This is an affiliate link. Using it to purchase the Cumulus helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!!!

FURTHER READING

Compare Daily Trainers
Skechers GoRun Ride 9
- The latest from Skechers, a soft, bouncy, improved-fitting updating
Puma Velocity Nitro  - Brand new trainer out of Puma. A versatile, protective ride that will work for many
Saucony Freedom 4 - Newly-dropped out of Saucony, featuring PWRRUN PB as seen in the Endorphin Collection
Saucony Ride 14 - The best in class 2020 trainer only gets better in its 2021 edition, with an improved fit and ride

Recently at Doctors of Running
EP. 44: Skechers Razor Line Explained

April Round-Up: Latest Reviews, Videos, and My Essentials #2 featuring contributor Nathan Brown
Science Friday: A Key Stability Element in Trail Shoes
Skechers Razor TRL Review - Razor takes to the trails with lugs and a structured upper
Saucony Axon Review - Value meets cushioniong. $100 max cushioned PWRRUN offering from Saucony

Thanks for reading!

TESTER PROFILES:

Dr. Matthew Klein is a 150 lb male with notable PRs of 14:45 for 5k and 2:32:44 for the full marathon.  He typically runs 70-100 miles per week and trains at a variety of paces from 8min per mile recovery runs to 4:40 per mile 1k repeats.  He prefers firmer and responsive shoes with snug heels and medium to wide toe boxes.  The stability guy of the group, he also prefers a little stability in his footwear. However, as a researcher, clinician and running shoe aficionado, he will run in anything. IG handle @kleinrunsdpt

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

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

David Salas PT DPT CSCS
Doctor of Physical Therapy
Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist

Bach Pham MS
Marketing and Social Media Manager
Master of Arts in Cultural Anthropology

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the  people at ASICS USA for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run run as well as a warm up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our 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.

Like and Follow Doctors of Running
Facebook: Doctors of Running Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running 

Please feel free to reach out, comment and ask questions!

EP. 44: Skechers Razor Line Explained

Featured Post: Hoka Carbon X2, with 100 Mile Update

HOKA ONE ONE Carbon X2 Multiple Tester Review

Bottom Ad [Post Page]