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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Welcome to our guide to Saucony footwear! In recent years, Saucony has made a surge to being a leading brand given its variety of options, integration of foam technology into footwear, and ability to democratize high-performance materials in packages appropriate for all runners. They offer a vast array of footwear both for the road and the trails. In this feature we will cover Saucony’s history, unique technology, and their current running shoe lineup.  


Guide to Saucony Running Shoes
Written by Content Manager Bach Pham and Senior Contributor Nathan Brown

About Saucony



Beginnings and Boulders. Saucony was originally founded in 1898 (then known for their children’s footwear), but didn’t officially adopt the same Saucony until the 1960s. The name “Saucony” is derived from a Native term that means “where two rivers run together.” The rivers referred to exist in a part of Saucony Creek in Kutztown, PA. The logo bears a resemblance to this creek, with three boulders represented by three dots. Now these three dots hold the guiding “boulders of their brand: good performance, good health, and good community. 

Run for Good.
If you’ve followed Saucony for any amount of time, you’ve probably seen the phrase “Run For Good.” This phrase currently stands for two pillars of this company: good for the planet and good for the community. “Good for the planet” refers to their initiatives in creating more sustainable running products, which include a newer plant-based midsole and more sustainable upper materials. “Good for the community” emphasizes breaking dow barrier around race and gender by creating strategic partnerships and forming grants to promote healthy lifestyles for all people. This includes creating programs and policies that encourage representation from diverse groups of people across and beyond the organization, including Running Industry Diversity Coalition (RIDC), Black Men Run, and Black Girls RUN!. Additionally, they have partnerships with Boston Children’s Hospital and New Orleans Children’s Hospital to collaborate on footwear design and services. 

Contributions to Research. An interesting aspect of Saucony is its connection to the research world. A long-standing athlete of theirs is Jared Ward. Ward has been an adjunct faculty member at BYU and contributed to the literature exploring running economy and footwear and the individualization and progression of running mechanics. One of the articles he collaborated on with Hunter McLeod contributed to our understanding of the individual response to super shoes. Their close ties to the research world have undoubtedly influenced their footwear design for the better, leading to different options for different runners.


Technology to Know



PWRRUN.
Saucony's EVA blend seen in everyday training models like the Guide and Kinvara.

PWRRUN+.
Their next level of foam which features a beaded PU-based cushioning. This is seen in many of their max cushioned models like the Triumph. It has been found to be a highly durable midsole along with being protective.

PWRRUN PB.
Saucony's PEBA blend. They indicate that it is 50% lighter than their EVA, consistent across temperatures, and features a high durability. It can be found in their performance models like the Endorphin Speed and Tempus along with the Endorphin Pro.

PWRRUN HG. Saucony's latest PEBA blend which they state to have 95% energy return. This is found solely in their Endorphin Elite model currently.

PWRRUN BIO+.
Saucony's first take at a bio-based midsole, PWRRUN Bio+ is a 55% corn-based midsole made with Susterra® propanediol.

Speedroll.
Speedroll is a term coined to go alongside their Endorphin series. It is the combination of cushioning and stiff forefoot rocker that works together to propel you forward.

PWRTRAC. Saucony's outsole formula for their trail running shoes.

Hollow Tech. The name of their posting system that is now seen in the Omni series. It features a clear plastic piece embedded in the shoe on the medial side.

FORMFIT. Saucony's description of how they create their fit. It is a combination of how the shoe wraps your foot from below through a bit of a cradled design directly underfoot along with structured elements on the upper to wrap the shoe around your foot securely.


Interviews with Saucony


Science of Footwear Design/Biomechanics with Saucony
Link
(Episode 95) - Link (Episode 96)

In these podcast episodes, we got a chance to speak with the footwear designers at Saucony to go in-depth on the design process there year-in and year-out. High level conversation on shoe design!

Designing the Kinvara Pro and PWRRUN HG
Link (Episode 146)

We catch up with Andrea and Cory from Saucony to talk about the latest innovations from the brand.


Saucony's Running Line



Road Shoes from Saucony

Ride 17 (neutral daily trainer) - Saucony's all-arounder for neutral runners. The latest version further softens the shoe with PWRRUN+.
Guide 17 (guidance stability trainer) - This stability trainer contains guidance elements to provide runners with a centralized, arch supported running shoe.
Omni 22 (posted stability trainer) - The Omni is Saucony's medial posted stability trainer for runners }
Axon 2 (budget max cushion trainer) - The Axon provides a $100 road running shoe that is also max cushion and rockered. It features a firmer PWRRUN midsole.
Triumph 21 (max cushion neutral trainer) - Saucony's max cushion neutral trainer featuring PWRRUN+ and a PWRRUN+ sockliner which further adds comfort.
Triumph 22 (max cushion neutral trainer) - Saucony greatly updates the Triumph with a PEBA foam which adds comfort while broadening the width to make it more focused on easy and recovery miles.
Triumph RFG (sustainable max cushion neutral trainer) - Using the same frame as the Triumph series, the RFG replaces the PWRRUN+ midsole with their new sustainable PWRRUN Bio+ midsole.
Echelon 9 (max cushion trainer with ortho-friendly fit) - This model provides a large volume of space inside the shoe to allow for orthotics to easily fit. The shoe has rockered design and wide base which makes it fairly stable.
Kinvara 14 (flexible neutral trainer) - A flexible, grounded neutral trainer for runners who like a lower stack running shoe. The Kinvara 14 does become less grounded with more midsole height than previous editions.
Freedom Crosssport (gym trainer) - The brand's workout trainer that also can log running miles.

Trail Shoes from Saucony
Peregrine 14 (neutral trail trainer) - The latest Peregrine becomes a higher stacked trail shoe for daily mileage
Blaze TR (budget trail trainer) - At $100, the Blaze TR offers runners a simple trail shoe that can tackle mild terrain for shorter runs.
Exodus Ultra 2 (max cushion trail trainer) - Featuring Saucony's premium PWRRUN PB midsole, this trail trainer is meant for long, protective trail runs all the way up to ultramarathon distances.
Endorphin Edge (carbon plated trail racing shoe) - The Edge is an aggressive trail racing shoe with PWRRUN PB, a carbon plate, and protective upper for fast trail running.

Performance Shoes from Saucony
Tempus (stability performance trainer) - Featuring PWRRUN PB in the core of the shoe wrapped with PWRRUN to provide a stable base, this unique stability design helps provide a versatile trainer for stability runners who want to run fast and far.
Kinvara Pro (plated performance trainer) - A protective road trainer for steady, uptempo long distance runs.
Sinister (lightweight performance trainer) - A super light short-distance racing shoe for those who do NOT want a carbon plated racer.
Endorphin Speed 4 (plated performance trainer) - Saucony's premier performance trainer gets aggressive again
Endorphin Pro 4 (carbon plated racer) - Saucony's go-to racing shoe for runners. Featuring their Speedroll design, carbon plate, and PWRRUN PB and HG.
Endorphin Elite (carbon plated racer) - The brand's premiere long distance racing shoe, featuring their most top level foam - PWRRUN HG.


Science Feature: Are Super Shoes ALSO Protecting Runners More Than Ever Before?
By Matt Klein



The Saucony Endorphin Elite is a sign of super shoes moving to a completely different level. While the original Nike Vaporfly was found to provide energy return levels around 87%, the Saucony Endorphin Elite has been reported to provide 95% energy return (Hoogkamer et al., 2018).  While the Vaporfly, Saucony Endorphin Pro 3, Asics Metaspeed Sky and others still sit in the super shoe category, newer products like the Saucony Endorphin Elite, Mizuno Wave Rebellion Pro and even the more seasoned Nike Alphafly are sitting at an almost entirely different level in regards to aggressiveness and performance. We will likely see more companies enter into this level, which begs the question of whether we need a different name for this category.

As exciting as the new shoes are, they are still tools that will work for specific runners and others that are patient and cautious enough to figure out how to use them. These will not make you invincible and while some people report reduced soreness after hard workouts in them, others have reported more due to their bodies have to get used to something so drastically different. Though we do not yet have evidence on how they affect injury rates, from clinical experience (expert opinion) it appears that injury rates are not changing (they are still high). The types of injuries, however, are changing. As expected with more aggressive, softer, stiffer and rockered shoes, I have seen more hamstring, calf, Achilles and soft tissue injuries compared to more bone stress injuries seen during the minimalist era.

As we have stated repeatedly, these shoes are tools, they will impact your body in different ways and you must continuously condition your body to handle those changes. As we move to an even more aggressive level of performance footwear, working on single-leg stability on unstable surfaces (soft unstable foams), hip strength (stresses are moved proximally toward the hip), and resiliency of the Achilles tendon and calf (working with the plate and instability of the foams) are three major things I suggest that runners work heavily on if they want to use these new shoes. 

This does not mean that shoes like the Saucony Endorphin Pro 3 don't have a place. How people respond to these shoes are highly variable and dependent on many factors including the person's lower extremity stability, proprioception, unique biomechanics, sense of comfort and many other factors. There are some that will probably do better in the Endorphin Pro 3 while others will do better in the Endorphin Elite. There is also a group that will do better in the Kinvara! These options are now out there and we encourage people to explore what works best for them. The "what works best" search is what made us start this website, so know that from our experience, what will work for you may change over time. So enjoy the many changes occurring in the running industry as they are moving toward people having more options, but will require people to explore what works for them as individuals. 

Sources:

Boyer, K. & Andriacchi, T. (2009).  Changes in running kinematics and kinetics in response to a rockered shoe intervention.  Clinical Biomechanics.  doi: 10.1016/j.clinibiomech.2009.08.003

Hoogkamer, W., Kipp, S., Frank, J. H., Farina, E. M., Luo, G., & Kram, R. (2018). A comparison of the energetic cost of running in marathon racing shoes. Sports Medicine48(4), 1009-1019.

Sobhani, S., Heuvel, E., Dekker, R., Postema, K., Kluitenberg, B., Bredeweg, S., Hijmans, J.  (2017).  Biomechanics of running with rocker shoes.  Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.  20(1): 38-44.




Our Top 5 Saucony Running Shoe Recommendations to Try

Best Daily Trainer: Triumph 21 | Review
(A very comfortable, highly cushioned trainer that's also extremely durable)

Best Stability Training Option:
Tempus | Review

(A steady, reliable stability trainer for everyday miles and some faster workouts. The Tempus would be a great upgrade for longer runs and potential half marathon+ distance racing for stability runners)

Best Trail Running Shoe: Peregrine 13 | Review
(A very nimble and versatile trail runner that's well-fitting and comes in a variety of models to best suit your trail needs whether mild to advanced/muddy)

Best Workout Trainer
:
Endorphin Speed 4 | Review
(A performance training leader since the first model, the Endorphin Speed 4 offers a balance of daily training and workout chops for just about any activity)

Best Marathon Option
: Endorphin Elite | Review

(A team favorite for race day, the Elite features a combination of a top end foam with a surprisingly stable base for a super shoe that makes it a reliable race day option)

Have questions? Send us an email at doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

Thanks for reading!



More Shoe Brand Guides

Beginner's Guide to Running Shoes: Are you a brand new runner and unsure where to start? Visit this guide first to get started.
Stability Shoe Resource Page: Our comprehensive guide to stability shoes and alternatives for neutral runners as well
Carbon Fiber Plated Shoes Resource Page: Want to go as fast as possible for race day? Visit this page for all of our super shoe reviews
Guide to Walking Shoes: Featuring some science behind walking and the best running shoes for walking based on our everyday testing and clinical experience working with patients.
Getting the Right Fit: Unsure if your shoe fits? Visit this page to help you determine how to find the right shoe for your feet. Comfort is one of the most important things we emphasize at Doctors of Running before you get out the door and on the road. Sometimes the right shoe for you is not what works for many others. That is why it is important to try different shoes when you can to get a better understanding of works best for your needs.
Beginner's Guide to Nutrition/Hydration: Guest writer Jennifer Giles (Registered Dietitan/Nutritionist) helps bring a new guide for fueling to Doctors of Running as part of our summer hydration series.
Ultimate Guide to Hydration Products for Runners: We review 10+ hydration products that may help you on your running adventure.
Best Affordable Running Shoes: We compiled a list of the most affordable options you can find in the market today. Updated monthly.



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