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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This year has been absolutely crazy for us at Doctors of Running. Over 110+ reviews, 16000+ miles run by our team. We grew our Instagram to new heights (14k followers!), we started earning revenue for the first time ever at Doctors of Running, and we added three amazing new team members. We couldn't have done it without your support and we're so excited for what's ahead in 2022.

Before we dive in, we're looking back at the busy month that was December. We dropped our annual Best of 2021 features, diving into everything from plated and non-plated performance footwear to stability and racing shoes. Today we're rounding things out with a few loose ends we wanted to tie up along with a busy month of reviews.

This year we tackled a number of categories through our month of Best of features. Before fully wrapping up for 2021, we wanted to look at two additional categories that we typically tackle year-in and year-out: best trail and best brand of 2021. It was a really interesting year for both which is why we wanted to take a moment and kick around a few thoughts.

Best Trail Shoes of 2021

Hoka Zinal
Review | Shop

Our team loved this shoe so much that we actually debated whether it or the Mach 4 was the best shoe Hoka released in 2022. The Zinal is a lovely combination of nimble, lightweight, cushioned, and protective in one package. It's fast and fun for race day while protective enough to carry runners long distances if they want something sleeker than the Torrent. This is just an awesome trail shoe that will make a lot of people happy.


Brooks Caldera 5
Review | Shop

"We reviewed this so early in the year I took it for granted," says Senior Contributor David Salas. The Caldera has become as staple of the Brooks trail line and for good reason. It's super protective, cushioned, and solid for a variety of distances. It's durable as hell, meaning you can really crash some technical trails and feel protected.

Best Brands of 2021

There was absolutely no way we could settle and nail down a single company that really took over 2021, but there were certainly four that we debated on heavily as a team. Adidas became an absolute team favorite this year for their re-imagining of the Adizero line. The Boston 10 was our daily trainer of the year and Adios Pro 2 a favorite for a variety of work and unique structure for certain runners. The Adios 6 helped keep Boston fans happy with a super snappy forefoot that's a blast for a variety of runs. They ended the year with a bang thanks to the Takumi Sen 8 which has quickly become a favorite for short distance racing.

There's also the innovative Prime X, which for better or worst landed and is now a part of our running shoe ecosystem.

Asics was another huge candidate for 2021 thanks to the Asics Metaspeed Sky alone, which propelled them to the top tier of marathon racing shoes. They followed the Sky with big releases though including the refined Novablast 2, vastly underrated Evoride 2 and Magic Speed, and super stylish high performing Noosa Tri 13. They even upgraded a classic to great success, the GT-2000 10. It was just a really good year for the brand who has come alive again after many quiet years.

Also equally good was Hoka who released one of the best shoes of the year in the Mach 4. The Zinal seen above was an incredible addition to their trail line, and the newly-updated Carbon X2 may not be the super shoe that many wanted, but was 11 seconds short of helping carry ultramarathoner Jim Walmsley to a new 100k record. The Rincon 3 had a great update with more durability and subtle improvements to make it possibly the best yet in the line and the Clifton 8 remains one of the best daily training options around. The Arahi 5 is still one of the stability shoes we often suggest as well due to its unique stability mechanism. We're still not sure the Bondi X needed to happen, but everything else
was just plain good, if not top of the line.

Finally there's
Puma which made the brand relevant in running again thanks to the introduction of the Nitro line. That alone may make them the brand of the year. We have praised the Deviate Nitro Elite over and over and will likely continue to do so in 2021 as the shoe becomes more widely available. The Velocity Nitro was a solid base model to carry the new line while the Liberate has created a cult status of it's own. With shoes like the Fast-R - their new futuristic racer - and more coming in 2022, we're really excited about the future of Puma. Also, who can't get excited after seeing Puma athlete Molly Seidel's stellar year?


Today is our final episode of 2021, and we couldn't be more thankful for all of you who have joined this community! We are closing out the year with an exciting new giving initiative which we discuss in detail. However, this month's organization that we are supporting is Megan's Wings. You can check out what they do on their website: After that, Matt and Nathan dive into Achilles Tendinopathy and cover everything from definitions, pathoanatomy, rehab, and what role shoes play. They also discuss the question, "Can I keep running through this injury?" As always, this podcast is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are having pain or an injury, please find a local physical therapist.


Best Racing Shoes of 2021

Best Stability and Stable Neutral Shoe of 2021
Best Plated Performance Trainer
Best Non-Plated Performance Trainer
Best Daily Trainer of 2021

Review Updates
Newton Gravity+ -
Contributor Andrea Myers checks in with a review of this underrated racing shoe in 2021.

Daily Trainer

New Balance Beacon v3 - We dig back to visit one of New Balance's new favorite trainers
On Cloudflow v3 - A new sustainable upper and outsole helps revitalize the lightweight trainer
Mizuno Alpha Eco Apparel - Super light performance clothing with sustainability and the future in mind
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22
- The Adrenaline gets refined from last year's version with a new midsole update and better GuideRail integration

Brooks Cascadia 16 - Super protective trail shoe for easy, long mileage

Adidas Adizero Takumi Sen 8 - The Takumi Sen gets a modern update with more stack and Energy Rods, making it a 5-10k powerhouse

Products and Apparel
Coros Apex Pro -
We look at the ultramarathon watch with a nearly endless battery life
Deckers X Lab Fall Review, Best Recovery Footwear - Street footwear with recovery in mind
Mizuno Alpha Eco Apparel - Incredibly lightweight clothing for your daily runs. Each apparel piece sold will mean a tree planted in partnership with the National Forest Foundation
Adidas Terrex Apparel - Super stylish design for visibility during runs

Note: Links provided are Affiliate links to Running Warehouse.
These links help support Doctors of Running if you are interested in making a purchase! Thanks so much.

Asics Nimbus Lite 3
Release: January 2022

The Nimbus Lite series is known for it's use of blending recycled materials into the midsole and upper to create a forward-thinking design. This year Asics refined the formula to bring the softest underfoot experience yet. They also tuned the upper to be more streamlined. We've loved the series for its unique wide base which lends itself to being one of the most stable neutral shoes out there.

Asics Nimbus 24
Release: January 2022

The Nimbus gets a big change with a new Flytefoam Blast+ midsole, brand new to Asics this 2022. The soft underfoot makes for a real cloud-like experience while a new upper helps provide a new take on the Nimbus experience.

Each Friday on our Instagram we like to share a science posted related to running or running shoe research! Visit our Instagram to find them weekly.

What makes a particular shoe work well for one person and poorly for another?, by Contributor Andrea Myers
How does drop height affect runners?, by DOR Contributing Team
Overtraining, by Coach Dave Ames
Knee pain in Runners, by Contributor Ryan Flugaur

We are chugging into 2022 full steam ahead. We have reviews of new Hoka coming in 2022 along with a few new plans to help you kick off your new year! Also look forward to a slate of new podcasts, interviews, and exciting new features as we keep evolving at Doctors of Running. Thanks so much for reading!

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Next: Best Non-Plated Performance Trainers of 2021

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