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Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 Review:
Stability with Full-Length Enerzy
By Chief Editor Matt Klein and Contributor Ryan Flugaur


The Mizuno Wave Inspire sits with the Brooks Adrenaline as two of the few high heel drop, moderate stability daily training shoes on the market. While the market has swung to more moderate heel drop, maximalist shoes, the Inspire has continued to maintain its higher heel drop and unique stability system. A full-length new ENERZY foam is one of the many updates that demonstrate that this shoe still has a place while continuing to carefully update itself and remaining true to those who love the Inspire.

Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 10.6 oz, 300 g (men's size 9), 9.1 oz, 258 g (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 31 mm / 19 mm
Drop: 12 mm
Classification: Moderate Stability Daily Trainer


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 returns as one of the few higher drop, moderate stability shoes on the market. Featuring a full-length ENERZY midsole, the underfoot feel is surprisingly bouncy, making the shoe feel lighter than the listed weight. Mizuno's wave plate continues to provide moderate stability in the rearfoot and heel, providing well-integrated medial support. A new streamlined upper continues to provide a normal to slightly wider fit, particularly in the forefoot.  The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 will work extremely well for those who want a higher drop daily trainer with a plate-based stability system in the rearfoot and midfoot.

Ryan: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is a moderate/max stability daily trainer designed for runners that require guidance from overpronation. The new full length Enerzy midsole helps soften the ride, compared to previous models, and feels mildly responsive through push off. The upper provides a comfortable look down and stretches to accommodate a slightly wider foot. The outsole performs well over a variety of surfaces, and I was surprised just how well it handled snow and ice, surfaces many other shoes may struggle with. The weight of the Inspire 18 holds it back from being a true every pace shoe. Coming in at 10.6 oz it feels heavy underfoot, especially when picking up the pace. Throughout my testing it has been comfortable and dependable, but its heavier weight, firm heel counter, and rigid plastic wave plate may hold it back from being a stability shoe everyone enjoys.





FIT 

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The fit is normal to slightly wider, particularly in the forefoot. The heel is normal width with a solid lockdown. This is due to a higher and stiffer heel counter as well as some moderate heel collar cushioning. I have been aware of the counter, but it has not bothered me. However, those sensitive to them should approach with caution. The heel is locked down well enough that I did not have to lace lock this shoe. The midfoot fits normal in width. The tongue is gusseted, has a normal thickness and sits securely on the foot. The laces stay in place well and integrate well with the midfoot. I was able to easily tighten and loosen them to get an optimal fit. The forefoot fits slightly wider with some additional stretch from the mesh upper. Those needing extra room up front may do well in the Inspire 18. The sock liner is comfortable with only a few seams. I would still suggest wearing socks as there is some stitching in the midfoot, although I have worn these sockless up to five miles without issue.

Ryan: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 fits me true to size in my men’s size 9. The upper and toe box are comfortable, able to accommodate a slightly wider foot thanks to the slight flex in the mesh material. The upper feels secure and I experienced no issues with the fit feeling sloppy. The upper material is slightly thicker making it an excellent shoe for outdoor runs in colder weather. This may cause it to be slightly warmer in hotter environments, but that has yet to be seen since we haven’t hit warmer temperatures in Wisconsin yet. The tongue is lightly padded and stays in place nicely thanks to a short gusset that begins in the midfoot. Moving to the posterior (back) of the shoe, the heel feels stable and secure thanks to the firm internal heel counter. The heel counter is moderately padded and runs down both the medial and lateral sides into the midfoot. I found it well-fitting and experienced no rubbing over the sides of my foot. Those individuals more sensitive to firm heel counters may have issues as it is very rigid. Overall, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 fits true to size with a slightly wider toe box. The upper and heel counter provide a secure and comfortable lockdown and the tongue stays in place over the dorsum (top) of the foot.



PERFORMANCE 

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is a slightly firmer but cushioned daily training shoe. The full-length ENERZY foam provides a cushioned, slightly firmer and moderately responsive/bouncy feel underfoot. I This makes the shoe feel protective and lighter than its listed weight. I am still not sure what ENERZY foam is, but it feels softer than the previous firm midsole materials Mizuno has used. The 12mm heel drop is noticeable and makes for an initially clunky heel transition. As the foam breaks in, this smooths out somewhat and the drop feels more in the 10mm range due to compression. The higher heel drop, 10.6 oz weight and slightly firmer but protective ride makes the Inspire 18 work best for daily training, long runs and easy runs. The slightly clunky heel prevents this shoe from working well for uptempo session (the Rebellion works much better) and instead makes it better for easier or longer paces. The heel is a bit stiffer, which adds to the stability in the rearfoot. Like the recent Rider, the forefoot has deeper flex grooves and is surprisingly flexible for a daily trainer. The toe-off is smooth and comfortable with fairly minimal toe spring needed thanks to that flexibility up front. The durability is excellent thanks to extensive outsole rubber. I have 35 miles on my pair and have not made a dent in the outsole. For that reason, I would expect this shoe to last beyond the industry standard of 300-500 miles.

Ryan: I ran the majority of the 130 miles slowly coming back from a calf injury. For this reason, most of my runs were completed at paces ranging 7:30 to 10 min/ mile pace. I was able to run a tempo run and the Enerzy foam continued to feel fairly responsive, but the heavier weight was noticeable. Weighing 10.6 oz, the Inspire 18 is heavy compared to other stability trainers. For comparison, the New Balance Vongo V5 weighs 9.7 oz while the Saucony Guide 15 weighs 9.5 oz. For this reason, the Wave Inspire 18 works best at slower paces and daily mileage. The new addition of full length Enerzy foam is a nice upgrade compared to previous models. It helps soften out the landing while remaining responsive and not mushy through. The 12 mm drop is one of the highest in today’s shoes and for this reason I found the Inspire 18 useful to take some pressure off my Achilles and calf coming back from injury.   

The outsole and traction become important over the snow-covered roads during Wisconsin winters. The Wave inspire 18 provides great traction over icy, snowy, and slick surfaces. It has become my go to shoe when the roads are more slick and extra traction may be necessary. The rubber outsole consists of many grooves and mini “lugs” to assist with traction. Whether landing on the heel, forefoot, or toes, there is adequate grip underfoot to assist with keeping you upright. The durability is also very good. After nearly 130 miles, the Inspire 18 displays very little wear and I anticipate them to last over 300 miles for many runners. 



STABILITY 

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is classified as a moderate stability shoe, with several methods of stability being located in the heel. Mizuno has been using their wave plates to create stability for years. The Inspire 18 continues this tradition with a plate that spans the width of the midsole in the heel to the midfoot. The medial side of the plate fans out more, creating more resistance to medial motion and instead facilitating forward motion. This does span into the back half of the midfoot, but is primarily located in the heel. The plate on the lateral side has a small curve, giving more of a lateral bias to this shoe. There is a moderate, peaked sidewall on the medial heel with a smaller one on the lateral side. The last of the Wave Inspire 18 is much wider, with a midfoot that only narrows slightly. There is a guideline in the outsole of the shoe that moves all the way into the forefoot. Most of the true stability lies in the rearfoot/back midfoot, so those that need it there will do well in this shoe. The forefoot is wider and has sole flare on both the medial and lateral sides. Combined with a solid amount of flexibility forward, this may provide some mild guidance upfront. Overall though, this is a moderate stability shoe that will work best for those looking for medial support in the heel and posterior midfoot.

Ryan: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is a moderate/maximum stability shoe that provides much of its guidance using the rigid heel counter, wave plate, and full contact outsole. The Inspire also adds a wide base for landing as the heel and forefoot are slightly wider. The wave plate does a good job stabilizing the foot in the medial direction and is well integrated into the shoe providing structure for those runners that may overpronate. This is not a typical post but a plastic plate that works to disperses the loading over a broad area. The plate is slightly thicker over the medial (inside) of the shoe while tapering out as it moves more lateral (outside). Doing so better integrates the plate into the shoe while providing support to runners who overpronate. Unlike some other testers, I did not notice the stability components during my runs. The posterior aspect (back) of the shoe has a small amount of medial flare adding security to the heel and further limiting overpronation. The forefoot remains flexible with a very slight toe spring and forefoot rocker to assist with toe off.


THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Considerations Regarding High Heel Drops, by Chief Editor Matt Klein
With the onset of both the recent minimalist and maximalist footwear trends, the running shoe industry has shifted to more moderate heel-toe drops. 8-10mm is the most common, with far more in the 0-7mm range than the 11-12mm range. Higher drop shoes are now rare, whereas at one point they were the norm. With higher midsole stack heights, lower drops do make sense for inherent stability. A tall rearfoot without a stable base is inherently unstable, as opposed to the lower heel drop, higher stack height but wide lasted maximal shoes we know today. These shoes often feature rockered soles, which can reduce stress on the Achilles/calf. However, the lower drop still requires some degree of ROM, which can be problematic for those with limited motion or acute injuries to posterior structures like the calf muscles or the Achilles tendon.

Higher drops can unload irritated calves/Achilles in certain situations in a way that a rockered sole cannot. A higher heel drop reduces the required range of motion the calf muscles and Achilles tendon need to go through to progress forward. This may be beneficial also to those who have extremely limited dorsiflexion range of motion either at the talocrural (ankle) joint or of the calf muscles.

Those who benefit from high drop and support may include those with posterior tib strains given that the post tib both plantarflexes and inverts the foot. So taking it into dorsiflexion and eversion (pronation) may stress it. A similar situation arises for those with peroneus longus strains as that muscle plantarflexes and everts the foot. Those who need to unload a posterior tibialis may do better in a shoe like the Wave Inspire 18 with its medial support. Those who need to unload a peroneus longus may do better in a shoe with medial and lateral guide rails like the Adrenaline given the more central and guided nature.

Those asking whether there is still a place for high drop shoes, the answer is yes. It is not necessary to have a huge number, but having a least a few in the industry will benefit a small population of people. The rest will likely do better in more moderate ranges like we are seeing today.

Considerations for Calf Rehab Using the Wave Inspire 18, by Contributor Ryan Flugaur
The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 was the tool I used to recover from my calf injury as it checked all the right boxes during my rehabilitation. Let’s examine the properties of the Wave Inspire 18 and discuss how those characteristics made it a good choice for me. Keep in mind that not everyone with a calf injury would respond the same but take this as a thought exercise/case study in how we can use shoes as tools.  

Heel drop of 12 mm. A shoe drop is the difference in height from the heel to the toes in a shoe. A higher heel drop shoe places the ankle in a more plantarflexed (pointed) position.  This may potentially place less stress through the achilles and calf musculature as those tissues will be in a shortened position and are less prone to be overstretched. A zero-drop shoe has no difference between the heel and toe height. Lower dropped shoes typically require more calf demand due to possible changes in landing pattern and running mechanics, something I was looking to avoid.   

Outsole Grip. Running on slippery and wet conditions can increase demand for calf and foot musculature as those muscle groups help to stabilize the foot. Improved outsole grip over wet conditions will limit these demands as the shoe is less likely to slip from under you. If a foot slips backwards while running, you may need to increase propulsion by increasing use of the calf to maintain a desired pace.  

Secure Upper and heel counter. The upper and heel counter provide a secure and dependable lockdown for my foot. The rigid heel counter helped guide my foot forward and limited some of the foot and ankle musculature demand that would otherwise be used for balance and stability.  


RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is a significant step forward from the clunky 17. The full-length ENERZY foam provides a much more cushioned and smooth ride, which combined with a lighter weight makes the ride easier on the legs. My only issue is that the heel is still a bit clunky. While there is a small heel bevel, I would encourage Mizuno to consider increasing the degree of the bevel a little more. It does start to compress better as the miles back on and should not be too extreme for that same reason. Other than that, I would not change too much as this is one of the few shoes that will work for those looking for a higher heel drop shoe with medial stability in the rearfoot and posterior midfoot.  

Ryan: Overall, I enjoyed the Wave Inspire 18 as a stable daily training shoe however the heavier weight restricts it from being a workout/faster paced shoe. I would love to see a weight reduction like the Saucony Guide 15 had this year. My second recommendation is to improve the heel bevel. Located at the posterolateral aspect of the shoe there is a large piece of rubber covering the midsole. Though infrequent, I sometimes felt the rubber during heel strike making the transition from initial contact to midstance a little clunky. Increasing the heel bevel may help to smooth out this transition.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR 

Matt: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is for those looking for a slightly wider, high heel toe drop, moderate stability shoe for daily training. The full ENERZY midsole provides responsive protection, however a slightly clunky heel makes this shoe better for easy miles. This is somewhat offset by a surprisingly flexible and smooth forefoot, but daily training is what this shoe is best for. The wave plate in the rearfoot and posterior midfoot creates a moderate level of medial stability, along with a few other measures. The high heel drop is noticeable, so those looking for it will find it here. The fit is secure in the heel while opening up in the forefoot, with a little extra stretch up front from the mesh. The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is a consistent daily training option for those who want moderate medial stability, a higher heel drop, and a shoe that runs a little lighter than its listed weight. 

Ryan: The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 is for the runner that requires a moderate/maximum amount of stability with overpronation and prefers a higher heel drop. As it only has a slight forefoot rocker and heel bevel, it will appeal to those runners that may be sensitive to highly rockered shoes. Adding full length midsole Enerzy foam helps to soften the ride yet remain responsive through transitions. The upper accommodates slightly wider feet without feeling sloppy or unsecure thanks to the slight flex in the mesh material. Its greatest limitation may come from its heavier weight as this prevents it from being a workout or tempo-paced shoe for some individuals.

FURTHER THOUGHTS


"The Mizuno Wave Inspire 18 features full length Enerzy cushioning does help to soften the ride up a little bit. The Inspire 18 updated its wave plate integration and appears to have widened the heel platform slightly. The feel is very stable on foot in that region however combined with the high drop can be a little slap like on the landing. The upper is a little wider than previous Inspires through the midfoot and does have some expansion so I will most likely heel lock the shoe going forward. I didn't have any major heel slippage initially but with upper expansion I did notice some movement towards the end of my run. It still keeps a lot of Inspire DNA but does bring some updates to the stability system. I think it will work for some and may be a little too much for others."

- Senior Contributor David Salas

"Like the majority of Mizuno shoes I've tried, the Wave Inspire 18 features a very comfortable fitting upper that makes the shoe enjoyable for all day use. The heel is a very secure hold - I highly recommend trying it to see if the hold is too extreme, it does wrap around the foot securely. Underneath the foot, the full-length Enerzy does feel very good and has a nice softness to it, but the stability mechanism in the Inspire just didn't quite sync up with my flat feet. I typically do have a lot of problems with any post-like feature under the mid to rearfoot and the Inspire - though is far less intrusive than many posted shoes I've tried - was difficult to settle with for me personally. I would love to see a smoother integration of a wave plate that helps facilitate forward movement better while still providing that mid to rearfoot stability. That said, for those who are searching for a high drop, medial support shoe, the Inspire 18 has its value being in a league of its own." 

- Social Media Manager, Bach Pham

GRADING 

Matt
Fit: A- (Secure heel, perfect tongue, wider forefoot with solid security)
Performance: 
B+/A- (The full-length ENERZY foam creates a nice bounce underfoot while the new flex grooves in the forefoot provide a much smoother toe-off. Heel is still clunky until the shoe breaks in, but far improved from the previous version)
Stability: A- (Several features that create a moderate to moderate to high level of stability including Mizuno's wave plate)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Medial stability, but several new age methods of stability including the wider last and sidewalls. Wave plate design adds some degree of variability in stability)
Personal: A-/B+ (A shoe that quickly grew on me. I do wish the heel was beveled a bit more, but this shoe continues to break in nicely)
Overall: A-/B+ (A solid moderate stability, high drop daily trainer with a flexible and smooth toe off that greatly improves on the previous version)

Ryan
Fit: A (Comfortable upper and secure heel. Laces and tongue provide a good lockdown)
Performance:
B (Full length Enerzy midsole offers a softer landing with a mildly responsive ride. Being on the heavy side can make it challenging to pick up the pace)
Stability: A- (The wave plate and heel counter do a great job providing guidance through the midfoot and heel.)
DPT/Footwear Science: A- (Waveplate well integrated into the shoe providing stability for those runners who overpronate)
Personal: A- (The wave Mizuno Inspire 18 checked all the boxes helping me get back to running following a 4-month hiatus following a calf injury.)
Overall: B+/A- (Overall, the Inspire 18 provides a secure, stable, and comfortable ride for those individuals looking for a moderate/max stability daily trainer used for slower and daily mileage)
   

SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Price: $139.95 at Running Warehouse

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FURTHER READING

Asics Cumulus 24 - The Cumulus comes totally refreshed with a vibrant new midsole
Science of Nutrition and Training for Women | Podcast Episode #82
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Karhu Ikoni 2022 - The latest update to one of the best fitting daily trainings in the business
Reebok Floatride Energy 4
- A new sustainable upper highlights the update to the beloved trainer
On Cloudvista
- A brand new hybrid trail shoe that builds on On's impressive trail line

Find all Shoe Reviews at Doctors of Running here.

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TESTER PROFILES:

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 Mizuno USA 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 doctorsofrunning@gmail.com

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Science of Nutrition and Training for Women | Podcast Episode #82

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