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.

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Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Review
Full Team Review by Matt Klein, Nathan Brown, and David Salas


The Mizuno Wave Rider series pushes forward another notch this year, keeping much of its traditional shaping, but stepping into the current market that favors softer and more cushioned shoes. Last year with the 24 we saw the Wave Rider received a heel wedge of their new Mizuno Enerzy foam that provided a slightly softer landing than the typically firmer rider. The 25 goes all the way and gives you the full length midsole of Mizuno Enerzy in a classic Wave Rider package. 



Specifications (per Mizuno)
Weight:  9.7oz (men's size 9); 8.1oz  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: not listed
Drop: 12mm
Classification: Daily Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 returns as another complete redo. The midsole is now full length and height Mizuno Energy foam, which is bouncy and soft. The forefoot becomes far more flexible, while a plate in the rearfoot and midfoot provide a stable ride in the back. The fit is slightly snug while still providing a combination of flexibility and security. Gaining a tiny bit of weight and relaxing in terms of ride, the Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is best as an easy day and long run shoe for someone who wants a soft but somewhat stable ride with a high drop.

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 receives another large update! In the last model Mizuno Enerzy foam was introduced as a heel wedge. In the 25 Mizuno Enerzy is full length and provides a nice protective and responsive ride to the workhorse trainer. The upper is also updated and the mesh fits much nicer throughout as well. The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is still the long standing daily trainer with a high drop that many love with some quality updates. 

Nathan: Welcome to the first full length Wave Rider midsole made up of Mizuno Enerzy foam. This Rider keeps much of its versatility, durability, and overall character while becoming a shoe that is, for me, officially out of the "firm shoe" category. The full length Enerzy midsole gives a softer, slightly more plush ride while still keeping some snappiness due to the redesigned Wave Plate. It also returns to the better fit found in the 23, but I believe this will be the first Wave Rider in a while without a Waveknit option. 


FIT (LENGTH / WIDTH / COMFORT)

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 fits true to size in my normal men's size 10. The fit is slightly snug, particularly in the midfoot. The forefoot opens up slightly and while having enough room, still has a slightly performance oriented fit. The mesh in the forefoot stretches decently and accommodates foot swelling well. There is a significant heel counter that wraps around both sides of the heel and into the midfoot. The large amount of cushioning at the heel collar has protected my calcanei well from this and I have not had any trouble. What is odd is that the heel feels like it should be more secure, but I had a little bit of heel slippage. It wasn't enough for me to lace lock the shoe so I just tightened the laces and it was fine. The tongue is secure being gusseted and seems to be the perfect thickness. The upper is very comfortable and I would almost suggest sockless wear, however there is stitching on both sides between the heel and midfoot that gave me some early skin irritation while wearing these sockless. So socks are preferred here. Overall the fit is slightly snug in the middle and a little relaxed elsewhere.

David: The Waver Rider 25 fits me true to size in my normal 9.5. The mesh upper feels a little more plush and comfortable than the previous version throughout. The width is normal width throughout and still provides a good lockdown throughout the midfoot and the forefoot. I did have a little bit of heel slippage in the heel, but with tighter lacing the shoe did fine. There are also some sidewalls in the medial and lateral aspects of the shoe throughout the rearfoot and forefoot which give a nice stable feel both statically and while running. The shoe is breathable enough for most conditions, but it does run a little bit more on the warm side. 

Nathan: The fit of the Rider 24 was a miss for me. It was a bit long and even too roomy to lock down the mesh version well. The 25 fixed all these things and has great lockdown through the midfoot and heel which having a roomy enough and wider toe box. The length is also true to size and the taper is very gradual on both sides, giving a more anatomical toe box feel to it. The mesh upper is also very accommodating which allows it to stretch well to different foot types. All of the padding around the collar of the shoe is on the moderate end with enough to protect the heel and top of the foot, but is not overly plush or overstuffed. The tongue is gusseted, and although there aren't any loops for the laces to pass through, there was no slipping or movement of the tongue on the run. Again, fit was spot on for me and fixed all the issues from the previous version. For those who love the Waveknit, you likely have to go back to the 24 to get it.


PERFORMANCE (RIDE / SPEED)

Matt: While the stable wave plate and higher drop were consistent, the Wave Rider 25 comes with some big ride changes. The full length Mizuno Energy foam provides a softer ride, something not common to the Rider series. The feeling is bouncy and soft, making for a fun ride. The heel is smooth with the bevel and foam that compresses well. The wave plate engages and interacts well with the new foam. The 12mm drop is somewhat noticeable, but with the softer foam and landing at the heel compresses the sole way more. Thus it feels closer to 9-10mm. The midfoot transition is stable and the forefoot is extremely flexible. This is one of the more flexible front areas of a traditional trainer than I have experienced recently. The rearfoot and midfoot are stiff and stable, but the forefoot completes changes personality. The toe off is more relaxed, while the sole continues to be soft and bouncy. This is not a speed day shoe like previous versions. The extra flexibility makes it lose some of the snappiness most races or elites are looking for. It can do some uptempo work, but anything faster is best saved for lighter shoes. Thanks to the forgiving and bouncy ride, the Mizuno Wave Ride 25 works much better as a daily trainer and long run shoe.



David: The Rider 25 has a unique update to the line up. The full length Mizuno Enerzy foam provides a softer ride than the Rider has provided in the past. The shoe however still feels very much like a Wave Rider, but has a softer platform and a little more bounce. The forefoot feels more cushioned and flexible as well. The shoe does feel like a high drop shoe, which it is. The transitions throughout are still pretty smooth throughout however. The midsole itself is surprisingly responsive for how it feels at step in. The shoe still leans in the daily trainer category, but I was able to take this on some pretty hard strides and the shoe responded well. I wouldn't lean on it for a speed day effort, but it can handle some uptempo if you need it to. The shoe is certainly a neutral trainer and does lose a tad stability from the softer platform and slightly narrow last, but there is enough stability elements on the shoe for it to still have plenty of components to make it fluid and stable for neutral runners. 

Nathan: This is the first Wave Rider that I can legitimately place on the soft end of the spectrum. Not as soft as many shoes we have been seeing such as the Novablast, but it is no longer the firmer ride that we've known in the Wave Rider series. However, this shoe is not a pillowy soft, but a bouncy, rebounding soft. There is great response from the Enerzy foam both in the heel and in the forefoot. For Wave Rider faithful, this continues to have the same DNA as previous versions, but just feels like it took 5 steps toward a more "fun" and "modern" ride with the full length Enerzy. Another new feature is the shaping of the Wave Plate. With the softer foam, they thickened part of the plate on the medial side and filled in all of the space around the plate with foam (which previously wasn't done). This was not obtrusive in any way and the midfoot feels very smooth, quick, and bouncy.

I did notice two things about this shoe worth noting. The heel was a bit more obtrusive during heel strike compared to previous versions and I noticed increased demand on my shin muscles (tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum) on longer runs, particularly when fatigued. Second, with the softer Enerzy foam also came increased flexibility in the forefoot. This led to some increased stress through my first big toe joint (1st MTP joint) due to the deformation of the foam in that area combined with increased range of motion demand due to the flexible foam. Neither of these things were deal breakers as I still could take this shoe any distance and through a variety of paces comfortably, but they were noticeable compared to previous editions of the shoe. In terms of speed, I found this version to have much of the same versatility of previous versions (could do some Fartlek work, tempo runs, long runs, recovery runs), but with a little less top speed due to the more flexible forefoot and softer foam up front.


STABILITY

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider series has prided itself on being one of the most stable neutral training shoes for years. The 25th version maintains much of this despite the increase in softness. The wave plate in the heel and midfoot continue to stabilize both. The sole is full ground contact, making for a smoother and more stable transition. The flex grooves and flexibility of the forefoot allow for a quick transition forward. The wave plate alone does a great job of keeping the foot centered and guiding things forward. The heel counter also adds quite a bit of stability in the rearfoot as it wraps very far forward in into the midfoot. This provides a ton of guidance during heel strike to mid stance, which is needed to offset the sole. The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 continues to be a neutral and in my opinion mild stability shoe given the elements, but those interested in more stability should check out the Wave Inspire 17 (REVIEW).

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider has always been a neutral trainer that ran like a "light" stability shoe. I mean that as a compliment. It has always been a trainer that holds a sound construction with plenty of good elements to keep gait mechanics fluid and stable. The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 continues upon that tradition, HOWEVER, the platform is a little softer and less stable than some of its predecessors. Again, this isn't a bad thing. The shoe still has good side wall integration, a solid lockdown from the upper, and a full contact outsole that has done good on a large variety of surfaces. I did have some heel slippage however so some heel security could be improved. Especially since it is a high drop training shoe on a soft platform (this will create more deformation in the foam and lengthen the transition through the forefoot, making it easier for things like heel insecurity to occur. 

Nathan: The Wave Rider 25 continues to be one of the most stable neutral shoes out on the market. The softer Enerzy foam introduces a little more demand for intrinsic stability, but it still is well structured. Additionally, the modifications to the Wave Plate offset this instability and you end up with a shoe with stability similar to previous versions, which is very high. The only area that loses some stability is the forefoot due to its flexibility and due to it being a bit softer. Those with mild stability needs and desires (as well as neutral runners) will be fine.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

     Given the increased forefoot flexibility found in this model due to the more malleable Enerzy foam, let's talk about the typical demands placed on the great toe joint (1st MTP joint), what that demand does to the foot, and who might not do well with a shoe that demands a lot of movement through this joint.

     First, as we transition through the running gait cycle, we come to the point where we transition from mid stance to terminal stance. Terminal stance is a point in the gait cycle where we start to drive up off the heel and over the toes. As we move into terminal stance, much of what we think about is achieving triple extension (simultaneous hip extension, knee extension, and ankle plantaflexion) to help move us forward. However, another very important aspect of this transition is achieving extension of the 1st MTP joint and what that extension does to help with load bearing. 

     Even in walking, you need a minimum of 60-65 degrees of great toe extension to achieve a typical gait pattern. This great toe extension functions to create a more rigid lever through tensioning the plantar aponeurosis (including the plantar fascia). This tensioning not only creates rigidity through the longitudinal arch, but also contributes to stabilizing the subtalar joint allowing for resupination in the rearfoot, which also contributes to the rigid lever for push off. The rigidity placed on the foot by the tensioning of these structures (created by great toe extension) allows the muscles of the ankle such as the peroneus longus, gastroc/soleus, and tibilis posterior to have a mechanical advantage (i.e optimal length-tension relationship) for stabilizing and moving the foot forward. (Boissonnalt et al)

     Therefore, there are a lot of consequences of lacking great toe extension. One is you no longer have as much of a mechanism to create a rigid lever through the foot for propulsion. Second, you also no longer place the other muscles at a mechanical advantage to help guide the foot forward. This would mean that over time, you will be having higher stresses through the MTP joints, possibly leading to pain in those areas for a number of reasons (such as metatarsalgia or Morton's neuroma). 

    So for the practical side of things. If you have seen a Physical Therapist who has helped identify lacking of range in your great toe or you are noticing discomfort in that area, it may be helpful to perform stretching or self joint mobilizations to help (hmmm...maybe we should make a post with how to do some of these...). However, some conditions may not allow for improving your range in this area such as advanced OA. If this is the case, choosing the appropriate footwear would be important. If you are a person with non-modifiable range of motion restriction in the toes, it would be wise to have a shoe with a more rigid forefoot with integrated toe spring. Essentially, a shoe with that construction (such as many HOKA shoes, ASICS GlideRide, or even the Endorhphin Speed) creates the rigid lever within the shoe that your MTP joint would typically do for you, which ultimately decreases load through the forefoot. Now PLEASE hear me, if your great toe extension is modifiable, work on that first! Shoes should not be used as a crutch forever, but may be helpful in the short term. But for those with permanent restrictions, the right shoe might buy you years of running you thought you may never have.

In the case of the Wave Rider 25, the forefoot is remarkably flexible, placing much demand on the first ray and MTP joint. THIS IS NOT A BAD THING since it allows the foot to use the natural mechanism of creating a rigid lever in the foot. However, the flexible forefoot is worth considering for those with recurrent metatarsalgia pain or with known restrictions in that area. 

- Nathan Brown PT, DPT

REFERENCES

Boissonnault, W., & Donatelli, R. (1984). The influence of hallux extension on the foot during ambulation. 
Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy5(5), 240-242.




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The full length Energy is nice, but adds a different character to the Rider 25. There are several elements that may make things more consistent. While I love the flexibility of the forefoot, this may not be optimal as not many people have adequate toe extension (related to Nathan's post above), let alone the high amount required while running. It would be helpful to add some stiffness back as that would make it more versatile into faster efforts like version 24. Of course the heel bevel could always be better, but the weight could use a drop. Given the amount of softness, this shoe could be lighter and still retain a similar level of cushioning. However, the market is moving away from lighter and continues to move toward bigger and more cushioned, so Mizuno is correctly following market trends. I cannot fault them for that and the current product will likely reach a greater number of runners given how it has relaxed. 

David: Overall I am really happy with the Mizuno Wave Rider 25. It has always been a favorite trainer of mine but I do have some recommendations. My main recommendation for the 25 is to improve heel security. The heel cup on the Wave Rider 23 is still probably my favorite heel fit out of any shoe I've worn, but they seem to have gotten slightly wider and plush throughout time. The lockdown is decent throughout, but tighter lacing is needed for the heel. I think they could slightly narrow the heel without jeopardizing much for the construction of the shoe. 

Nathan: I love the new full length Enerzy. It's a lot of fun. But there are a few things that I think could smooth out the ride back to front. First would be be either lower the drop a bit (to 8 or 10mm) or create a bigger heel bevel to help the heel be less obtrusive upon landing. The second is to create a bit more of a forefoot rocker to smooth out toe off and decrease demand on the MTP joints. Another way to help in the front would be to add some stiffness through increased stack (combined with toe spring). That would allow the shoe to remain flexible for typical daily training, but offset the flex point induced by the softer foam.



WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR (Conclusion)

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is for someone who wants a high drop, cushioned shoe for long run efforts, long runs and uptempo efforts. This shoe is unique as it has.a ton of forefoot flexibility, so those with limited mobility mobility up front may want to be careful. Those who want the flexibility and hate stiff soled shoes will love this shoe. The upper fits more securely and snugly while still providing some room in the forefoot as traditional with Mizuno. The full length Enerzy foam is fun, but makes the Wave Rider 25 relax in character. Even the drop feels lower than if you land at the rearfoot. Those who used the Rider 24 for workouts may want to reach elsewhere (although a Mizuno shoe will be coming out soon exactly for that purpose). Those want want a softer more forgiving sole will love the ride of the Mizuno Wave Rider 25. Best for easy runs and long runs, the classic shoe returns with some new age updates. 

David: The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 is neutral daily trainer for someone looking for a reliable workhorse trainer. The shoe does ride a little on the softer end with a higher drop ratio than most shoes on the market. The forefoot is also more flexible than previous versions. The result is a slightly soft riding shoe with solid responsiveness throughout. Though the Wave Rider 25 can handle some uptempo work, it is probably best used as a daily trainer.

Nathan:
This shoe continues to be a faithful, highly stable, workhorse trainer that can handle daily runs, recovery runs, and some uptempo work. It is going to be a great option for the Wave Rider faithful, and is the first Mizuno Wave Rider that steps more fully into the realm of newer trainers due to the softer and bouncy feel to it. For those with limited great toe extension or recurrent anterior compartment (shin) issues, this shoe may still work for you, but you may need a rotation or to try it out to make sure there isn't too much demand on those areas for you. 


GRADING (SHOE CATEGORY)

Matt
Fit: B+ (Upper has room in forefoot and heel. Snug in midfoot. Slightly warm)                     
Performance: B+ (Relaxed ride for mileage, long runs and easy days. Bouncy but not enough for workouts) 
Stability: A- (Despite softer ride, plate still provides rearfoot and midfoot security that should work for those even with mild stability needs. Forefoot very flexible and transitions forward quickly) 
DPT/Footwear Science: (Stabilization with plate is always great. However, concerned about how flexible the forefoot is with how soft the sole is. Most people may not have that much mobility in their toes and may need to cautiously transition into this shoe.) 
Personal:  A- (A lifesaver for me and a continued favorite. The softer sole takes the edge off so I can't use them for workouts anymore. However the high drop did great for a mild Achilles injury. The Energy is awesome and I can't wait to try that in a shoe designed for racing) 
Overall: B+ (Bouncy but relaxed daily trainer with higher drop, a flexible forefoot and a softer ride)             

David

Fit: A- (I think the fit is great throughout. Plush and comfortable with good lockdown. The heel could be secured better though)                    
Performance:  A-
 (The heel security was a big thing for me on this one... Otherwise the shoe runs good at most paces. It is a comfortable daily trainer that I can also do some strides in) 
Stability: 
B+ (Softer platform and narrow last take some points away however there are still enough components to have a nice option for the neutral category) 
DPT/Footwear Science:  
(Sidewall integration and sole flaring is great, though with the softer foam the shoe probably should have been made a little more rigid through the forefoot) 
Personal:  
A- (One of my personal favorites. I'm sorry. I've said this a bunch. It's just the heel lockdown. Otherwise I really enjoy this shoe.) 
Overall:  A- (A comfortable daily trainer with an updated midsole for a softer and more responsive ride)        

Nathan

Fit: (Accommodating upper, secure, comfortable, breathable and durable for a trainer)                     
Performance:  B+ (So versatile and a complete workhorse, but some issues with heel transition and toe off transition) 
Stability: A- (Pretty much as stable as a neutral trainer gets, but some instability in the heel due to clunkiness and flexibly forefoot) 
DPT/Footwear Science: (Modifications to plate are strong to offset the softer foam, obtrusive heel and flexible forefoot may be issues for some people) 
Personal: B+ (Still a trusty Wave Rider, but just some issues with the flexibility in the forefoot and the heel for really high milage)     
Overall:  B+ (Still a great workhorse with a really fun foam, but a couple of issues at the transitions)      

VIDEO REVIEW



The team is back with our latest video review, featuring our final thoughts on the Wave Rider 25.

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FURTHER READING

Compare Daily Trainers
Mizuno Wave Rider 24 -
Compare with last year's edition!
Nike Pegasus 38 The long running series from Nike gets a new upper that refines the predecessor's ride
Saucony Ride 14 - A top of the line daily trainer in 2020, this year's also receives subtle upper changes to add to an already excellent shoe
Puma Velocity Nitro - Puma's newcomer is a light, protective trainer that's grippy and smooth
Hoka One One Mach 4 - The favorite for many in 2021, a cushioned, responsive trainer for all your needs if you like max cushioning

Recently at Doctors of Running
Coros Apex 46mm Review - David Salas checks in on the Coros Apex which he's used extensively for track and trail running these past few months
Asics Kayano 28 Review - The long running Kayano gets a soft Flytefoam Blast midsole to shake things up
Sauocny Endorphin Pro 2 Review  - The Pro returns with a new reinforced upper that will help runners get the perfect lockdown for raceday
Hoka One One Zinal, First Impressions Run - Join David Salas on the Western States Trail for a run in the Zinal, Hoka's new performance trail runner
Saucony Endorphin Shift 2 Review - Version 2 comes in with a new upper and refined heel. Our editor Matt Klein's top three of 2021

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 Mizuno 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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