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]


Mizuno TC-11: Pod Performance?
By Contributor Ryan Flugaur

As more runners begin to incorporate strength training into their running program we have seen an emergence of better all-around training shoes for the average gym goer. These shoes are designed to be versatile making them great options for doing a bit of everything at the gym. The Mizuno TC-11 brings forth a new view on training that is often overlooked when beginning a strength program, neuromuscular and proprioceptive input training. In the clinic I often use tools such as bosu balls and foam pads to practice balance tasks however the TC-11 is designed in a way to help improve balance just by performing exercises in the shoe. This is the first time I have heard of a shoe being used as a training tool, so I was excited to put a pair on my feet and see how it performed. 

Mizuno TC-11
Price: $145 at
Weight: 11.8 oz, 334 g (men's size 9), 10 oz, 283 g  (women's size 8)
Drop: 4mm
Classification: Training


The Mizuno TC-11 is unlike any other training shoe that I have worn. It is geared for static lifting and performs much differently than other cross training shoes like the Reebok Nano or Nike Metcon series. Mizuno has designed the TC-11 not only as a fitness shoe but also a training tool used to help improve balance. It uses a unique technology to do this called "C.O.B," it provides a textured insole that is meant to provide feedback from the ground to your feet (more on that later). In doing this however, the TC-11 comes with some serious tradeoffs that may only benefit a small population of individuals. I will discuss who will best benefit from a shoe like the TC-11 and how this technology may be incorporated into other footwear in the future.


The Mizuno TC-11 fits me true to size in my men’s size 9. It is manufactured using a knit booty upper designed to hug the foot and help keep the foot planted during static tasks. Unlike the Nano and Inov-8 F-Lite G 300 training shoes, there is no structural support on either side of the shoe and the heel counter is pretty flexible providing little guidance to the posterior (back) of the shoe. The midsole and upper material are both extremely flexible and the shoe can easily be folded in half. This makes the TC-11 the most flexible training shoe I have worn. Individuals that prefer more guidance in their training should look elsewhere as the TC-11 offers very little structural support. The tongue is gusseted to the vamp and provides a good lockdown for the midfoot. The laces sit securely over the dorsum (top) of the foot and stay in place well without pressure points. As this shoe is designed to be a training tool for balance, there are “pod clusters” built into the footbed that become very noticeable over the plantar surface of the foot. It feels similarly to small pieces of rounded gravel pebbles embedded under the insole. These pods became uncomfortable after wearing the shoes for over an hour. Making jumping and landing an activity I tended to avoid. I also tried wearing the TC-11 around the clinic and after only a few hours, I needed to remove the shoe as the pods were beginning to irritate the ball of my foot. I understand these pods are designed to assist the wearer with ground sensation but for me it made the shoe uncomfortable for many tasks I tried at the gym.


Dynamic tasks: Jumping and Running
When used for box jumps, the Mizuno TC-11 provides very little forefoot support to assist with push off as the calf musculature performs much of the work. When landing off a box, the pods become notable as the foot slides over the insole. Performing 5-8 jumps was enough to feel some irritation over the plantar surface of the foot. As there is no true structure to the forefoot or lateral aspects of the shoe, stabilization to the foot while running is performed mainly by the musculature of the individual. This was not an issue for me for low mileage, but I wouldn't want to take this shoe for any distance over a few miles. Moving to the back of the shoe, the heel rocker feels slow and clunky and without structure in the forefoot, there is significant demand on the calf muscle to assist with push off. The midsole on the TC-11 is constructed using polyurethane, a foam heavier than EVA, and this extra weight is noticeable during jumping and running. Mizuno likely used polyurethane over EVA as it is more resilient to deformation over time, meaning it does not have the tendency to flatten or compress. This will make it a better option for heavy lifting tasks when other softer foams tend to compress.  

Static Tasks: Strength Training 
The Mizuno TC-11 performs best with static tasks like an isometric hold or a position where the feet don't move. When performing a squat, the pods are much less noticeable compared to running or jumping and the upper of the shoes does a good job hugging the foot. The smaller outsole footprint leads to a narrower base of support and can make balance more challenging, especially during single leg tasks. General weightlifting was no issue and the TC-11 performed surprisingly well given the flexible nature of the forefoot. The low drop of 4mm helps to keep the foot close to the ground and the firm polyurethane midsole keeps the foam from compressing when pushing into the ground.  

Overall, the Mizuno TC-11 performs below par during all dynamic tasks. The flexibility of the midfoot, poor insole pod sensation, and lack of stability features make the TC-11 hard to recommend for anything more than static activities. If the research turns out to be positive regarding the Center of Balance Technology, the TC-11 may make a good training tool when the goal is to improve overall balance and neuromuscular control.


Mizuno TC-11 is best designed to handle static or small movement tasks where balance is critical. In the clinic, I put my patients through balance tasks hoping to improve the proprioceptive feedback from their joint and skin receptors as the signal travels to their brain. Doing exercises like these helps the individual improve with single leg balance, single leg hop, and overall dynamic stability. The Mizuno TC-11 is designed to improve feedback from the outsole to the foot and therefore improve athletic performance. Mizuno calls this Center of Balance (COB) technology. The pods are designed in a way to better transmit the sensation of the ground to the foot so the wearer can better activate their foot musculature to assist with balance. 


When an individual runs, jumps, or moves, the body relies on proprioceptive feedback from sensors in muscles, tendons, skin, and other organs to provide feedback on what their body is “feeling”. This information is then transmitted to the brain and then back to the muscles to make fine adjustments to their movement. The Mizuno TC-11 is designed using what Mizuno calls COB (center of balance) technology that incorporates tiny pods into the insole of the shoe. The pods are designed to improve foot sensitivity from the ground to the foot and thus make the wearer more aware of what is happening under their foot. I was unable to locate the study, however, where Mizuno claims that subjects who wore shoes with COB technology for 6 weeks displayed an improvement in balance tasks such as the functional reach test and the Y balance test. Mizuno also claims those individuals displayed a decrease in reaction time. Without having the study, I am unable to validate these claims, but feel this is an interesting topic to discuss and is often overlooked in footwear.   

Over the years, stack height in running shoes has substantially been increasing as runners enjoy the feeling of having more foam under the foot. It is not uncommon to see shoes today with stack heights of greater than 35-39 mm in the heel. This increase in foam helps to add comfort to the ride, among other things, but it can also alter the sensation of the ground beneath the foot. Ground sensation can even become more challenging for these individuals with balance deficits or that lack sensation over the bottom of their foot. These individuals must rely more on vision and the semicircular canals found in the inner ear to assist with balance. Balance like other structures in the body can be strengthened using exercise. Seeing how running is a series of single leg hops, it is critical to incorporate balance training into a strength and running program. This can be accomplished using tools like a bosu ball or foam pad to help strengthen balance and proprioception properties. As more research emerges, maybe footwear like the Mizuno TC-11 can be used like other training tools to help improve balance, but at this time I’m not ready to recommend these shoes for that.


I would really enjoy seeing the research conducted by Mizuno regarding their center of balance technology. With good research, the Mizuno TC-11 can make a good option for those individuals looking for a training shoe to improve their balance that can easily be incorporated into their strength training sessions. Without this data, the TC-11 remains a flexible lifting shoe with an insole that makes it challenging to wear for prolonged periods of time.


This Mizuno TC-11 is designed for the athlete looking for a shoe designed mainly for static exercises. Due to the flexible nature of the shoe, the wearer should display good balance control and foot intrinsic musculature, especially if performing more dynamic tasks such as running and jumping. With further research, the COB technology may become a helpful tool to gain neuromuscular strength.


Fit: B- (Comfortable booty fit. The pods in the midsole can become uncomfortable especially during dynamic tasks or prolonged use)
Performance: C+
(Difficulty performing running and jumping tasks cuts down the versatility of the TC-11. Static tasks are no problem thanks to the resilient polyurethane midsole and 4mm drop)
Stability: B- (The TC-11 is stable during static tasks thanks to the well-fitting upper, firmer PU midsole, and low drop. Excited to see further research using the COB technology as companies put more thought into neuromuscular strength.)
Personal: C+ (Not as versatile as I would like out of a gym shoe. Other cross training shoes perform better for both dynamic and static tasks)
Overall: B-/C+ (Until research is released and validated regarding the COB technology, the Mizuno TC-11 should be reserved mainly for those individuals performing static exercises and prefer shoes with a firmer PU midsole)


Price: $145 at

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

Check out Gear We Love
Ultraspire Fitted Race Belt: The best way to carry your phone and goods on the run. No bounce and various sizes for waist. (Also recommend the Naked belt)
Skratch Recovery, Coffee Flavor: Mental and physical boost post run. Coffee flavor is excellent and goes great straight into a fresh brewed cup
goodr Sunglases: Run in style with goodr's super fun sunglasses.
Feetures Socks: Massively grippy socks that will make you feel more one with the shoe
Amphipod Hydraform Handheld Water Bottle: Perfect for long runs when you need hydration in the summer
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!


Training Shoe Reviews at DOR
Reebok Nano X1
Reebok Nano X2
Inov-8 F-Lite G 300

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

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 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 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

Inov-8 F-Lite G 300

Bottom Ad [Post Page]

// ]]>