Physical Therapists Using Clinical Analysis To Discuss The Art And Science Behind Running and The Stuff We Put On Our Feet

Post Page Advertisement [Top]

Saucony Freedom 5 Review:
Does it Really Do it All?
By Senior Contributor David Salas and Contributors Andrea Myers, Ryan Flugaur

The Saucony Freedom series has been a pretty versatile shoe in the lineup of Saucony running over the years. The shoe has always maintained a low profile, sleek design, and something that a lot of people can wear for things other than just running. The Freedom 5 expands on this with an even more sleek design and redone upper. The shoe still utilizes the same geometry and PWRUN PB midsole that was in the Freedom 4. The shoe in a lot of ways feels like a performance lifestyle shoe and I mean that in the nicest way possible (David). The geometry does lean more towards the flat end but gives it a more grounded feel that helps with crossover activities in the gym or lifestyle wear while still being runnable.

Saucony Freedom 5
Price: $150, Release: 4/15
Weight: 8.4 oz, 238 g (men's size 9), 7.3 oz, 207 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 27 mm heel, 23 mm forefoot
Drop: 4 mm
Classification: Lightweight Neutral Trainer, Crossover


David: The Saucony Freedom 5 is a versatile shoe that can expand upon a few different things, even outside of running. The shoe features a low profile design that uses a full length PWRRUN PB midsole that gives a little bit more of a suspensive sensation. The outsole traction is really good and the geometry leans more towards the flatter end. This gives it some ability to be used for both lifestyle wear and gym activities as well as running. The shoe still feels pretty smooth running but gives you a slightly more grounded and less rolling sensation than many of the other shoes that are provided by the company. 

Andrea: The Saucony Freedom 5 is a lightweight trainer that is very interesting on paper - it has PWRRUN PB cushioning, which is the same as the Endorphin Pro and Speed, 4mm drop, and is relatively lightweight. As a longtime Kinvara fan (and an Endorphin fan), I thought surely I would love the Freedom as well.

The Saucony Freedom 5 is a lightweight, lower stack, neutral daily trainer. It has ultralight PWRRUN PB cushioning and a stack height almost identical to the Kinvara 13. Unlike the Kinvara, which is lightly cushioned, very flexible, and responsive; the ride of the Freedom 5 is firm and mildly responsive. The mesh upper is thicker than the upper of the Kinvara or Endorphin line and is medium to low volume. This shoe will work best as a daily trainer for those with a narrower and lower volume midfoot and forefoot. Saucony advertises the Freedom as a crossover shoe, but I prefer a flexible, low stack shoe for my gym workouts (currently using Inov-8 Bare XF 210 v2). Those who prefer a firmer and higher stack strength training shoe may like the Freedom as an option.


David: The Saucony Freedom 5 fits true to size in my normal Men's 9.5 however does run on the more snug side of things. The volume through the midfoot is rather low. I didn't have any major problems there but did have some noticeable pressure when locking the shoe down. Other than that the dimensions are done pretty well. The width through the rearfoot, midfoot, and forefoot are all normal to slightly narrow width. The tongue is gusseted and does seem to contribute to some of the volume issues mentioned above. For those that have a wider foot or one with more volume may need to make sure they have a good return policy if looking into this shoe. The lockdown throughout though is pretty good and you do feel pretty grounded. The mesh upper itself is pretty comfortable but some comfort is taken away from the vertical volume through the midfoot. Overall a pretty good upper, but I think the gusseted tongue could either be taken out or the volume through the midfoot increased a little bit as I continue to get pressure through the dorsum of my foot.

Andrea: The Saucony Freedom 5 fit narrow for my usual women’s 9.5. It was particularly tight across the ball of my foot and caused discomfort at my 5th MTP joint (outside ball of foot). For me, the Kinvara and Peregrine fit true to size, but I do size up ½ size for the Endorphin line for length. The length of the Freedom was true to size, but the width definitely was too narrow. The laces are very short and did not allow me to open up the forefoot as much as I would have liked on my first run. For subsequent runs, I replaced the laces with the slightly longer and stretchy laces from the Endorphin Pro 2. This somewhat reduced the discomfort at the lateral forefoot, but the shoe continued to feel too tight, resulting in a few hours of plantar fasciitis-type pain after the run. The Freedom is not available in wide sizes, but that is what I would likely need for the shoe to fit comfortably. The mesh upper is on the thicker side and kept my feet warm in sub-freezing temperatures, but it may be too warm in the summertime. There is a rigid external heel counter with mild padding internally that I found comfortable and secure. The gusseted tongue is lightly padded and stays in place securely. The interior of the upper is soft and would likely work well for sockless running.


David: The performance of the Freedom 5 was a little on the underwhelming side from the running end but still did well across a lot of other categories. The shoe has a relatively flat geometry with slight rounding through the heel and forefoot. The full contact outsole does give you a grounded sensation and the small portion of PWRRUN PB midsole gives the shoe a slightly soft feeling underfoot. With no plate and increased outsole coverage the shoe actually feels pretty grounded. The 4mm drop feels pretty true if not even a tad lower due to the grounded sensation above. The ride of the shoe is pretty balanced throughout without providing too much rounding or flexibility in any specific region. In some ways it almost feels like a pair of Vans that you can run 10 miles in and have your feet not hurt. The transitions were smooth enough to run in but not the most responsive by any means. I actually like the Freedom for multi-use. Whether it is walking or lifting motion the sensation of connectivity to the ground without excessive rounding to the sole was actually really nice. I could easily see this becoming a gym companion for someone. The running transitions do give a sense of cushion through the heel due to a crash pad underneath the calcaneus but then gives that grounded feeling again due to full coverage outsole through the midfoot and forefoot. There is a slight rigidity to the shoe from that point forward despite not having a plate. When the shoe is loaded there is some forefoot flexibility, though not overly flexible by any means. The shoe performs well as a "do it all" shoe in the active lifestyle world, though does fall a little short in the running world, especially for using a "super foam".  

Andrea: I found the ride of the Freedom 5 firm and minimally responsive. It does feel very light while running, but the foam felt like it had no energy return. Due to its lower weight and firm outsole, it doesn’t feel like it is doing anything except providing slight cushioning and protecting the foot from the ground. There is a minimal toe spring that is not very noticeable at any pace. At faster paces, it continued to feel firm and not particularly responsive. This surprised me because PWRRUN PB feels so responsive with just the right amount of cushion in the Endorphin Speed and Pro. Of course, the differences are the lower stack height, lack of plate, and less aggressive heel and forefoot rockers in the Freedom. Midsole material is only one part of the story when it comes to the ride and performance of a shoe. The Freedom will be best for easy runs and wouldn’t be my choice for long runs due to the firm ride.


Stability throughout the Freedom 5 is not too bad for being a predominantly neutral shoe. Some of things mentioned above contribute to this. Overall, the lockdown throughout is pretty good, despite the volume issue in the midfoot. The outsole provides good traction on a variety of surfaces. The midsole is not super high and does have some suspensive qualities to it when the shoe is not plated. The result is a someone low riding shoe with a slight sensation of softness through the midsole. The shoe feels pretty grounded and balanced throughout. Those who do have stability problems with softer midsoles though might have some difficulty with the Freedom 5 through the midfoot especially when running or lifting under heavy load. For those that don't require much stability needs this shoe should be just fine. 

Andrea: The Freedom 5 is a neutral shoe with minimal features to guide motion. The rigid external heel counter stabilizes the heel and the mild toe spring provides slight guidance through push off. The outsole is firm and the slight heel bevel may provide mild rearfoot stability. This is definitely a shoe for runners with neutral mechanics. As a crossover shoe, its neutral construction, minimal toe spring, and lower stack height may make it a strength training option for some people. Others may find the sole too stiff with not enough proprioceptive input for functional training exercises.


How the Shoe Fits in as a Crossover, By Senior Contributor David Salas

With the large surge in new generation midsoles, the Freedom 5 continues on the trend by incorporating PWRRUN PB in the Freedom 5. PWRRUN PB is a softer PEBA based midsole that many are familiar with being in the Saucony Endorphin Pro and Speed. Both of the above examples are plated. When we plate the shoe we can create some rigidity throughout and a method of stabilizing the softness of the foam without jeopardizing some of the responsiveness we get from it. The Freedom 5 does not use a plate, rather they use a flatter geometry, less foam, and a full contact outsole to stabilize the shoe. Because there is no plate you can tell the midsole itself is a little softer, but because there is less of it you feel like there is some more give to it than say the normal PWRRUN in the Kinvara. The shoe utilizes a decently thick outsole and flatter geometry to give the shoe a much more stable base underneath while also giving it some ability to do things other than solely running. The result of all of these components is that you feel grounded. The shoe almost feels like a 0 drop level platform when using it because of some of the inherent rigidity and lack of rocker design throughout the shoe. This is a good example of a true crossover shoe. By using this geometry and increasing the grounded feel throughout the shoe we help augment our proprioception (our joints awareness in space). This is crucial not just for running but for other activities.

Specs Aren’t Everything, by Contributor Andrea Myers

On paper, the Freedom looked like a shoe I would love. I thought perhaps it would feel like a more protective Kinvara, or have the firm bounce of the Endorphin Pro or Speed, or the neutral, responsive New Balance Beacon. In reality, it felt nothing like the shoes it appeared to be similar to on paper. Reviewing shoes for Doctors of Running has helped me to gain a better understanding of what specific features of a shoe are the most important for my performance and comfort. I prefer a neutral shoe, a wider toe box, a flexible midsole, light to moderate toe spring, and a mesh upper with mild stretch. Only looking at the usual specs of drop, stack height, and weight do not give me the information I need to know if I will like a shoe. I have been pleasantly surprised by shoes with greater drop than I normally would run in (Asics Nimbus Lite 3) and more structure than I usually like (Saucony Endorphin Shift). So how do runners figure out what features of shoes are most important for comfort and performance for them?  

Physical therapy education programs teach students about clinical pattern recognition. In short, the more patients you see, you start to see patterns in their symptoms, diagnoses, and what treatments work best for each type of patient. Similarly, runners can look for patterns in the shoes they like and dislike and try to break down the features of the shoes (and the combinations of features) that work best for them. Do you seem to prefer shoes that have toe spring - and if so, what degree of toe spring? Relative to my foot length, I have short toes, which means that shoes with toe spring that starts too far back on the shoe (like the Asics MetaRacer) are very uncomfortable for me because it initiates push off too early for my foot. How flexible are the shoes that you prefer? You may like a firmer shoe for intervals and shorter races and a more cushioned shoe for easy days and marathons. What kind of upper do you like? Many shoes have mesh uppers that have little stretch, while other shoes have knit uppers that are very stretchy and give the foot a little more space (but may not provide the most secure lockdown). When it comes to stability features, do you like shoes with medial posting, sole flare, heel bevel, guide rails, or a wider midfoot? Look at the shoes you have in your rotation now, and think about the shoes you have liked in the past. You will start to see patterns in your preferences.

You can consult the Doctors of Running Shoe Science Center for more detailed information about the various features of shoes. This will then allow you to go to your local running store ready to discuss the features of shoes that work (and don’t work) for you. Try shoes that you might not normally try - you may find one that surprises you. Start seeing patterns in the shoes that work for you and you will have a much easier time finding new shoes in the future.

By Contributor Ryan Flugaur

The design of the Freedom 5 makes it an optimal shoe for transitioning from running to strength training with ease. I was a bit skeptical of the softer PWRRUN PB foam as many training shoes offer denser foam to help support the foot during lifting but it did a great job keeping the foot planted, even during heavy squats when softer foams may collapse. During box jumps, the softer midsole (in comparison to most gym trainers) helps to cushion the landing yet provides structure to the shoe keeping the foot stable. Looking at the stability features of the shoe, the heel counter provides support to the posterior aspect of the shoe while the wider landing platform creates a stable landing platform. The flexibility of the forefoot allows enough motion to perform push ups, heel raises, and sprints without feeling restricted. The outsole provides great grip over a variety of surfaces and has no issues with slipping.

One issue I had with the Freedom 5 was the overall volume of the forefoot. Training shoes are typically designed with a wider toe box allowing the toes extra room to splay, improving stability. The freedom 5 has a snugger fit throughout the forefoot and the upper stretches very little to accommodate for this. I did switch my laces out for a pair with more elasticity and that did help a little. Those individuals with wider feet or that prefer a fit that provides more space in the toe box may want to go up a half size. Overall, the Saucony Freedom 5 works well during a variety of workouts ranging from jumps, sprints, running, and lifting weights. The PWRRUN PB midsole provides a fun and soft experience while being supportive enough for heavy lifting.

Compared to both the Inov-8 F-Lite G 300 and Reebok Nano X1, the Freedom 5 offers a smoother ride while running yet still handles other cross training activities quite well. For the individual looking to run a few miles, attend fitness classes and lift weights, the Saucony Freedom 5 is a suitable option worth a look.


David: I think the shoe does a lot of things pretty well but doesn't lead any specific categories. My main recommendation for the Freedom is actually in the upper though. The dimensions are dialed in pretty well but the volume through the midfoot is too low for most people I think. If you a like a more snug fit through that region it may work for you. The volume isn't a deal breaker for me, but it certainly is noticeable and my foot doesn't usually take up much volume through that region. 

Andrea: I would have enjoyed this shoe a lot more than I did if the forefoot width was more like the Kinvara, the Endorphin series, or the Peregrine. It would be interesting to try the men’s version of the shoe to see if it’s comfort and performance changes for me. Outside of my sizing issues, I would recommend that Saucony increase the length of the laces and make the mesh more breathable. They might consider reducing the midsole and outsole stiffness to make the shoe more responsive, which would make for a more versatile shoe.


David: The Saucony Freedom 5 is a lightweight multi-purpose shoe for someone that is looking for a piece of footwear that can all encompass an active lifestyle. Whether it is for running, lifting, lifestyle wear, commuting, the shoe can do a little bit of everything. Aesthetically the shoe is also really pleasing and certainly be dressed up to some degree. The shoe provides a slightly cushioned, but more grounded feel throughout with good traction through the outsole. For those that like more "flat" geometries for either running or multi-use this is certainly a shoe that does well in that category and has some crossover appeal. 

Andrea: The Saucony Freedom 5 is for runners with neutral mechanics who are looking for a firm, lightweight daily trainer. Runners with narrower and lower volume feet will do best in the Freedom. Despite its PWRRUN PB midsole, the shoe is much firmer and less responsive than the Endorphin Pro and Speed due to differences in shoe geometry and the lack of plate in the Freedom.


Fit: (Dimensions throughout are pretty good but the low volume through the midfoot vertically takes a point for pressure)
B (A jack of all trades but master of none. Decent running ability, decent active lifestyle wear, decent casual wear)
Stability: B (Flat geometry and full contact outsole help with providing a good platform for the softer PWRRUN PB midsole)
DPT/Footwear Science: B (I like the way they did the integration with the softer midsole and firmer grounded platform, the upper configuration could be better throughout)
Personal: B (A good shoe that is versatile with crossover use into lifestyle and lifting, though running is balanced and light, a little uninspiring from a responsiveness and ride perspective)
Overall: (A lightweight lower profile training shoe that has some crossover appeal with running, lifting, and active lifestyle wear)


Fit: D (too narrow in mid and forefoot, laces too short, does not fit like other Saucony shoes)
Performance: B-
(lightweight, but very firm and not responsive)
Stability: B (a truly neutral shoe with minimal stability feature)
DPT/Footwear Science: C (specs of shoe were promising, but performance as a daily trainer was disappointing)
Personal: C (poor fit resulted in plantar fasciitis-type pain. I might like this shoe for short, easy days if I tried the men’s version)
Overall: C+ (Even if the shoe was wide enough for me, its use would be limited to easy days and the firmness of the midsole would not make it my first choice for tired feet and legs)


Saucony Freedom 5
Price: $150, Release: 4/15

Using the following links to purchase helps support Doctors of Running. Thanks so much!

Check out Gear We Love
New Balance Rebel v2
One of the most fun trainers of 2021 so far
Asics Metaspeed Sky: Chief Editor Matt Klein can't stop racing in it, even on trails (not advised)
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
Trigger Point Foam Roller: Help get those knots out post-run and feel better for tomorrow
Theragun Massager: This small version is great on the go for working tired legs
Ciele Hat: Our team's favorite running hat of choice!


Nike Structure 24
Slightly refined update for the mild stability trainer
Does More Cushioning Mean Less Injuries? | Podcast #79
Saucony Axon 2 - A highly valued rockered ride at $100
Adidas SolarGlide 5 - A great update to a struggling series improves the workhorse trainer
Diadora Mythos Blushield 6
- The Italian maker's stability shoe model, with a plush underfoot
Xtep RC260
- A decently priced, plated pebax trainer from the Chinese brand

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

Thanks for reading!


Facebook: Doctors of Running
Youtube Channel: Doctors of Running
Instagram: @doctorsofrunning
LinkedIn: Doctors of Running
Strava: Doctors of Running
Podcast: Virtual Roundtable
Pinterest: Doctors of Running


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,

Dr. Andrea Myers is a 5’7”, 130 pound female with PRs of 3:04:48 for the marathon and 18:41 for the 5k. She typically runs 35-60 miles per week with recovery runs at 8:00-8:30/mi pace and 5:30/mi pace for shorter efforts. She prefers firmer, neutral shoes with 4-8mm of drop and high volume toe boxes. IG handle: dreamy560

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.

***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.

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

Does More Cushioning Mean Less Injuries? | Podcast #79

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>