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Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 Review
By Chief Founder Matt Klein and Contributor Nathan Brown


The original Endorphin Shift was a favorite here at Doctors of Running in 2020 (REVIEW). A durable, well cushioned, smooth, stable maximal shoe that could handle long miles and uptempo running. We were impressed by the methods of stability used without making it a true stability shoe and maintaining the ability to work for a large variety of runners. We were a bit nervous for the second version, but everything has been refined. Although meant as only an upper change, subtle updates have made the Endorphin Shift 2 just as good, if not better than the original. A little more upper security and a slightly softer ride make this a great update that won't disappoint. 


Specifications (per Running Warehouse)
Weight: 10.4 oz / 296 g (men's size 9) 9.2 oz / 253 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 38 mm / 34 mm 
Drop: 4 mm 
Classification: Maximal Uptempo Daily Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 returns as the well rockered, stable maximal uptempo trainer of the Endorphin series. Featuring primarily upper updates, a refined external heel counter and reinforcements in the upper make for a more secure and better fit. The sole, while supposed to be the same, ends up just a hair softer than the previous version. This makes for a smoother transition and a faster break-in. The same incredible durability persists making this a major deal at $140. Best for long miles and uptempo runs for those wanting a great fitting, stable and rockered shoe. 



FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The upper fits slightly more snug than the previous version thanks to the overlays on the medial and lateral side. The overall fit is fairly normal from heel to forefoot. The midfoot and forefoot and slightly snug width wise but there is normal to slightly above normal volume. The upper overall is very secure. The lower profile external heel counter provides a comfortable but locked in fit in the rearfoot. Those people who are sensitive to heel counters will have absolutely no problems with the counter. It is well cushioned and I didn't even notice it except for the security it provides. 



The overlays along the medial and lateral side of the upper lock the foot in very well. The upper does stretch with time and is extremely breathable. I would not suggest running sockless in this shoe as the stitching is noticeable. However with socks this is not a problem. The tongue is gusseted and stays in place well. The laces also stay locked in well and I did not have to lace lock the Endorphin Shift 2. Overall, the upper is more secure than the previous version, with plenty of room without losing security. 



Nathan: I really enjoyed the fit of the original Shift, but did feel that the upper story was a bit separate than that of the original Speed and Pro due to the thicker upper and highly cushioned tongue and heel. The Shift 2 changes this and it feels overall more consistent with the entire Endorphin line. The Endorphin Shift 2 continues to fit true to size and has slightly higher than normal volume (mainly due to the height) in the toe box. Otherwise, the shoe fits slightly on the narrow end of normal width due to the checkered overlays. Despite being narrow, it has adequate room and the upper is breathable and accommodating for slightly wider feet. The heel is secure and also padded, preventing any irritation. The heel counter has some similarities to the previous version, but is lower around the collar, providing a little more flexibility higher around the ankle. This was fine, but I did notice a little rubbing at the transition from the external heel counter to the softer material on the medial side of the ankle (at the lowest point of the plastic). From back to front, this is a very secure upper. 


PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 is fairly similar to the previous version with a small exception. The ride is just a hair softer throughout the length of the shoe. The Endorphin Shift 2 has a protective ride with a huge stack height (38 mm / 34 mm) but the transition and flexibility of the shoe is just a little better. The previous version was stiff during the warm up and took a mile for my legs to warm up into. The current version feels good immediately. The ride is rockered, with solid toe spring (Speed Roll) in the forefoot that is done very well and feels natural. There isn't a ton of flexibility due to the massive stack height in the forefoot, but it rolls a little more gently due to the slight increase in softness. The heel bevel remains the same, allowing for a smooth transition from heel to toe. The bevel angle is fairly normal, so doesn't feel odd. There is a 4 mm heel drop that is noticeable while walking and initially while walking. Once you engage the toe spring though this becomes less noticeable. I actually started wearing this shoe a few days after an Achilles strain and did surprisingly well. So those concerned about the lower drop should still transition slowly, but have little to worry about. 



The ride lends itself best to long miles, recovery runs and uptempo work. Even at 10.4 oz (men's size 9), the Speed Roll and PWRRUN allow for uptempo work. This has been my go-to shoe for long runs and steady state runs pacing my fiancée. The ride is protective, stable but can still move. For anything faster I personally would use the Endorphin Speed 2 or Pro 2, but for those wanting more cushion coming from heavier shoes the may be a good tempo option. Certainly for anyone wanting a more protective, less aggressive ride, I would suggest this shoe to recreational runners for road marathon to ultramarathon racing.

Like the previous version, the durability is amazing. I have well over 100 miles on my pair and have next to no wear on the outsole. The sole feels exactly the same as when I first put it on and I have to keep reminding myself I just hit the 100 mile mark. So I expect well over the 300-500 mile industry standard out of these shoes, even from me. 

Nathan: I certainly agree with Matt, here. The ride of the new Shift is a touch softer than the original, and this had some really positive impact for me. The original Shift suited me better for longer and harder efforts only, whereas the slight softness found in the second edition allowed me to run recovery miles just fine. The PWRUN midsole is not bouncy, but the rockered construction is really smooth from heel to toe, which gives a nice propulsive sensation when picking up the pace. This is a rare trainer that is so high stack but feels nimble at tempo paces. Although a 4mm drop, the integrated rocker and toe spring seems to offload the achilles more than a typical 4mm drop shoe, and I actually used this shoe in the midst of a calf strain since it was the least painful compared to the other shoes I was testing. This shoe has a lot of protection underneath and shines for long miles. 

 


STABILITY 

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 is a "structured" shoe. There is no post, but this is a very stable shoe. Those with neutral to mild stability needs (and even more potentially) will do fine here. The wonderful external heel counter has been refined to be a little less bulky but still provides the same great secure lock and stability. It continues to run around both the lateral side and deeply into the medial side like the previous version. This provides a high level of heel stability without being obtrusive.  The overlays along the medial and lateral sides of the upper act almost like guiderails. In addition to locking the foot in well, the increased upper security does a great job keeping the foot gently guided throughout the gait cycle. The sole is just as stable as previous. The wide base and well rockered sole provide a quick transition forward. 



The new heel counter combined with the overlay reinforcements and what feels like a slightly high arch on the medial side do create a very structured shoe. Those that are sensitive to posting should know that there is no true post in this shoe. However the heel counter runs deeps down into the medial side of the sole and almost feels like one. This is offset by the fact that the counter also wraps around the lateral side, so runners needing guidance on either side should be fine. This should work well for those who don't need stability but want a solid ride to those who want mild to moderate stability without traditional means.

Nathan: We raved about the guided construction of the original when it came out and this shoe is no different. The smooth geometry and transitions alone lend itself to a more stable ride despite the high stack. Additionally, the build up of the rubber outsole and extension of the heel counter into the midsole provide some structure to the medial aspect of the midfoot without being obtrusive. The two changes in stability come in different ways. First, the slightly softer foam leads to a slightly less stable platform for the foot, but this is VERY minor. The second change comes from the upper. The structured overlays (checkered part) hold the foot really well and securely on the platform, improving stability on turns and keeping the foot secure. 



Almost no wear from editor Matt Klein's shoe after 100 miles.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 continues to add to the number of shoes that are redefining what stability and structure mean. There is not a true post in this shoe. A post is usually a firmer section or piece of the midsole that is meant to get the foot to transition through the softer section of the sole, ie the path of least resistance. Posts are supposed to resist compression and prevent pronation, but the foot frequently does its own thing. Why this happens can come from a variety of reasons. We do know that motion control shoes or high level posted stability shoes do decrease the risk of pronation related injuries (Willems et al., 2021). Pronation related injuries include Achilles tendinopathy/tendonitis and posterior tibial tendinopathy/tendonitis. However they do not seem influence injury risk of other running related injuries including those at the knee and knee (please keep in mind that research is about averages and there are always exceptions). So posts are not useless, but they are overdone and over-prescribed. There are many other ways of creating stability, which is being done more frequently in current models including using different heel counters, side walls, geometry, rockers and more. None of these are the absolute best for everyone. Each person is going to respond differently and have maybe one or two they react best to. This means you are going to need to experiment to figure out what works for you and don't assume that will work for another person. What works for you may stay consistent or may change over time, so keep an open mind.

We have had several messages recently asking us (Doctors of Running) how shoe walls and shoes should be categorized now. Since there are many stable/structured neutral shoes and unstable "stability" shoes, how should we categorize footwear so the consumer can understand? The Shift 2 is a great example of this conundrum. It isn't supposed to be a stability shoe, but functions as a stable shoe that will work for a wide variety of runners. Other shoes that are supposed to be stability shoes end up not stable at all. This is evolving quickly, which makes it a bit inconsistent. Certain shoes are better for beginning runners or more experienced runners. Certain shoes are for training and certain shoes are for faster running. Certain shoes are stable in certain areas and not in others. You can go the classic way and just separate the shoes based on the company.

If I was to suggest a way to categorize shoes, it would be based on running experience. A discussion I had with Simon Bartold recently (YOUTUBE) was on what shoes are appropriate for what runners. Aggressive racing flats are rarely appropriate for new runners. New runners are still learning their mechanics, their bodies are still adapting to the impact forces and their muscles are getting used to handling those impact forces and propelling the runner forward. Many racing shoes have plates, unstable foams, may be close to the ground, have aggressive geometries and should not be used everyday by most people. These are better for runners with more experience and have more resiliency/strength. Newer runners would probably do better in a less aggressive training shoe. One that maybe has a bit more cushioning so running doesn't feel so harsh (Most people that hate an activity are not likely to continue long term). I would still think about structure, but structure or a lack there of can be good for runners of all experiences. So the structure component can be integrated into this model, but is going to take some knowledge from running store employees. You need to try these shoes on, understand what "structure" means (which I think is a better description that stability), learn who benefits from it, how to identify what kind will work for each person, and go from there. 

References

Willems, T. M., Ley, C., Goetghebeur, E., Theisen, D., & Malisoux, L. (2021). Motion-Control Shoes Reduce the Risk of Pronation-Related Pathologies in Recreational Runners: A Secondary Analysis of a Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy51(3), 135-143.




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: For $140, this shoe is awesome. This is one of the most durable shoes I have tested for the road, the fit is great, it is stable and structured without being obtrusive, the ride is smooth and I can use them for both easy and uptempo runs. My only major suggestion is to see if the stitching from the overlays can be integrated better. I did notice that trying to run sockless made me nervous with rubbing from the overlays, but I never had problems wearing socks.



I would like to note that there appears to be a layer of PWRRUN PB (like the Pro and Speed midsoles) right under the insole. I would encourage Saucony to think about expanding this. I would be curious to see what a PWRRUN PB core would do for ride and stability.

Nathan: Continue making this shoe. That's my suggestion. I have a lot of patients who have transitioned to this shoe for a myriad of reasons, and I hope it continues to stay as is. It might be nice to see a similar heel construction on a lower stack shoe with a more flexible forefoot. That combination may be helpful for a few other populations who do better with some flexibility and lower stack but still need guidance from the heel to midfoot.


WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 is a solid update, further establishing itself as a fantastic structured maximal training shoe that can handle long and uptempo mileage. Several designs provide a highly structured ride without being obtrusive that will work for a variety of people. Those who do not need stability but want a ton of cushion that can still move will be happy. Those who want stability and a smooth long run/uptempo trainer will also be happy. The new upper provides more structure and locks the foot down really well. There is a performance fit, but enough volume for a variety of foot types. The Speed Roll keeps the legs turning over really well and a slightly softer sole makes the transition smooth. Those looking to try this shoe for the first time will enjoy the protective ride with an efficient roll and good lockdown. Those who enjoyed the first version will also be happy with the refinements that continue to improve this shoe. 

Nathan: The Shift 2 is for someone who wants a stable and slightly firmer high stack shoe for lots of milage. It is a shoe with a lot of protection, rolls really well, and provides sophisticated stability for both the neutral runner and those who need just a bit of help. Fans of the original will be happy with this update.



GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: A- (Secure fit with very good heel lockdown. Medial/Lateral reinforcements act like guiderails)                     
Performance: A- (Great shoe for mileage and uptempo runs. Super smooth forefoot rocker and slightly softer sole that makes for an easy transition. Maximal cushioning that doesn't feel awkward. Low drop noticeable, so still transition slowly) 
Stability: (A structured and stable shoe. The heel counter, reinforcements and sole design make for a super stable shoe that isn't posted. Will work for a variety of people who do or do not need stability) 
DPT/Footwear Science: (Excellent redesign of heel counter and upper for natural structure. Slightly softer ride improves transition but stays very stable. Very well placed toe spring) 
Personal:  A- (My go to uptempo long run shoe. Easily pick this for protection, structure and comfort) 
Overall: A- (A contender for trainer of the year. A solid upper update with good security combined with unique structure, incredible durability and a ride that handles mileage extremely well)     

Nathan
Fit: A- (Some issues with the heel counter on the medial side, otherwise good fit and comfortable and performs well)                
Performance: A (Slightly softer construction added to the versatility of this shoe, great for high mileage and now recovery runs) 
Stability: (This shoe works for so many foot types and varying needs of stability) 
DPT/Footwear Science: (Continued integration of a smooth geometry and stability elements) 
Personal:  A- (Love this shoe for long runs, only issue was the heel counter) 
Overall: (Solid upper update on an already strong trainer)                      

VIDEO REVIEW



SHOP | SUPPORT DOR


Interested in purchasing the Saucony Endorphin Shift 2? Visit Running Warehouse here to purchase. Using the link helps support Doctors of Running. Thank you so much!

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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

Dr. David Salas is a 135 lb male with notable PRs ranging from 3:54 in the 1500m to 1:08:36 for half marathon. He typically runs 60 to 70 miles per week and trains from about 7:30 recovery runs to fast shorter efforts at 4:30 pace. He normally prefers neutral shoes with a firmer ride, but is completely open to other types of shoes.  He is a footwear enthusiast at heart and will always appreciate a high quality shoe when it comes around. For updates on training or testing, IG handle: @docsofrundavid

Dr. Brown is a 155 lb male with notable PRs of 18:18 5K, 39:25 10K, 1:29:01 half marathon, and 3:54 marathon. He typically runs between 20-40 miles per week at a variety of paces from 7:30-8:30 min/mile for recovery runs to 6-6:45 min/mile for tempo runs. He typically prefers shoes that provide some cushioning underfoot but still maintain a more firm and responsive feel. Current goals for 2020 are to break the 1.5 hour half marathon and 3:30 marathon. IG handle: @nate.docsofrunning

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 Saucony 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.

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