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Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 Review
By Andrea Myers and Matthew Klein

Since version 2, the Saucony Endorphin Pro series has undergone major changes. Part of that is the company switching to two-year cycles, allowing for greater development time. Version 3 was a drastic change that finally brought an incredibly bouncy midsole to this series. Although said to still be PWRRUN PB, the mixture was clearly different. Some liked the snug fit and bouncy ride, while others were torn. What was challenging was the similar specs to the Endorphin Elite, despite the two shoes being different. The Endorphin Pro 4 changes the entire shoe while keeping some elements around. A new geometry, a top layer of PWRRUN HG, and a brand new upper with more volume are just some of the changes to Saucony's most recent version of its original super racer. 


Saucony Endorphin Pro 4
Price: $224.95 at Running Warehouse
Weight: 7.7 oz, 218 g (men's size 9), 6.5 oz, 184 g  (women's size 8)
Stack Height: 40 mm / 32 mm
Drop: 8 mm
Shoe Purpose: Super Racing Shoe

Pros: Fit is truer to size in length and volume than previous versions, feels better at faster paces than many super shoes (Andrea), excels at longer distance efforts (Matt)
Cons: Low compliance may make this shoe less comfortable for longer distances, Tongue creases due to higher volume midfoot fit


RUNNING SHOE SUMMARY


The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is a complete update to Saucony's OG super racing shoe line. Featuring a higher volume and wider fit than prior versions, the new upper is light but more accessible to those with slightly wider feet. The midsole now features a PWRRUN HG topsole and PWRRUN PB midsole, making for a bouncy ride with a pinch of firmness. This distance racer maintains its price point while becoming more accessible, with new-age updates that have polarized our team.

SIMILAR SHOES
: New Balance Fuelcell SC Elite v4
PAST MODEL: Saucony Endorphin Pro 3






FIT
(To learn how a shoe should fit, check out our full podcast on fit by Matt Klein.)

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 fits me true to size in my normal men's US size 10. The width is fairly normal to slightly wider for a racing shoe. This is also due to the higher volume upper. I really had to tighten the laces down to get a secure fit. This did cause the one-piece tongue to fold on itself, but fortunately this did not cause me problems. The forefoot fits normal in width with a little extra volume. This makes it almost feel long but I would still go true to size. The midfoot fits slightly wider. There is a gusseted, stretchy, thin one piece tongue. I did have to tighten the laces to get a secure fit, which as mentioned caused the tongue to fold. The heel fits normal with a thin heel collar on the sides and a more cushioned heel collar at the posterior aspect of the heel. There is thin, flexible heel counter at the far back of the shoe that did not bother me at all. Most people except those with extremely sensitive heels should be fine with this. The security is decent once the laces are locked down on the midfoot. The mesh is thin and breathable throughout the length of the shoe. I would highly recommend socks as the inner aspect of the upper is scratchy, so going sockless is not recommended. 

Typical Size: Men's US Size 10
Shoes that have fit Matt well: Saucony Guide 17, ASICS Kayano 30, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Nike Ultrafly, Altra Vanish Carbon 2
Shoes that have fit snug: Hoka Arahi 7, Saucony Kinvara 14, Hoka Mach 6
Shoes that have fit large: Salomon S/Lab Phantasm 2, Altra Timp 5

Andrea: I normally size up 1/2 size in the Endorphin line (size 10 instead of 9.5). I also received a size 10 in the Endorphin Pro 4, and immediately noted that it fits longer than the Endorphin Pro 1-3. The upper also has significantly more volume and material than the same size Endorphin Pro 1-3. While I initially questioned whether I do not need 1/2 size up in v4, after testing the shoe I believe that sizing up is still correct for me. Despite the additional length and volume, I had no issues with foot translation or lockdown, although I did need to tie the laces tighter than I have in previous versions.

The forefoot rocker also feels like it lines up correctly with my MTPs, whereas it might not if I went down 1/2 size. There is enough width in the toe box that I did not experience any discomfort at my 1st or 5th MTP, and the width of the midfoot and heel is normal. The tongue is fully integrated with the upper, and due to the increase upper volume, I experienced some folding of the tongue when locking down the laces. Thankfully, this did not cause any skin irritation on the dorsum of my foot. The laces are attached to the upper through loops of fabric instead of traditional eyelet, with the exception of the two rows closest to the ankle, which are regular eyelets. The laces are flat and do not stretch and it was easy to lock down the shoe without a lot of trial and error. The tongue extends up past the ankle, but can be folded down out of the way. I left it up and did not notice it at all while running.

There is almost no heel counter, with just a small piece of rigid material in the lower third of the posterior heel. The sides of the heel are very flexible and thin, with minimal internal padding. Despite the long fit and minimal heel counter, I had zero issues with heel slippage. Despite some initial concerns about the length and volume of the shoe, I found it quite comfortable. I think most people will be able to go true to size in the Endorphin Pro 4, but if you typically go up 1/2 size in the Endorphin line, you may want to try on both sizes to get the right fit. 

Andrea's Typical Size: Women's US Size 9.5
Shoes that have fit Andrea well: New Balance Beacon v3, Brooks Hyperion Max, Topo Cyclone 2, Nike Vaporfly 3, Altra Via Olympus 2
Shoes that have fit snug: Saucony Kinvara 14 (length and toe box width), Altra FWD Experience (length and width), Hoka Cielo Road (toe box width), Saucony Endorphin Speed and Pro 1-3 (length)
Shoes that have fit large: Adidas Boston 12 (length), Adidas Adios 8 (length)

Doctors of Running Checklist

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking: No
Is This a Good Shoe for Standing: No
Is the Forefoot Flexible: No
How Flexible is the Shoe: No Flexibility
Is This a Good Heel Bevel: Yes
Recommended for Haglunds: Yes
Recommended for Sockless: No
Durability Expectation: Above Average






PERFORMANCE

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is a super racing shoe for those who want a high level of cushioning/bounce, a less aggressive rocker and a more distance-friendly ride. I found the Pro 3 to feature an aggressive bouncy ride that worked from 5k all the way up to marathon efforts. The Pro 4 now features a top layer of PWRRUN HG, which adds some slight firmness to ride. This firmness is still responsive, but comes alive most during tempo to faster paces. The heel features a decent-sized bevel that is slightly posterior lateral.

Despite the large amount of sole flare, I did not find the heel clunky. The transition is smooth and moves into a stable, slightly stiff midfoot. This transitions into a slightly stiff forefoot that features a large but slightly late forefoot rocker. During easier paces, outside of a stiff forefoot, the Endorphin Pro 4 feels fairly comfortable and easy-going, a radical departure from the aggressive Pro 3. I found that this shoe responds completely different depending on what pace you are going. At easier efforts it feels cushioned and weirdly comfortable. At faster paces it feels really bouncy (but still slightly firm for so much PEBA foam). Faster paces are relative as I struggled to push this shoe faster than half marathon to 10k pace. It felt best settling into a rhythm around half marathon to marathon paces. I did one uptempo effort in the middle of a long run and it felt perfect. The same happened when I did a tempo run before some intervals. The tempo effort felt smooth and bouncy, but I struggled to push it faster. For that reason, I think this shoe will make an excellent longer effort race shoe (Andrea and I have opposite experiences on this).

The outsole doubles down on this as I have almost no wear on my pair after 30 miles. I easily got to 100 miles on v3 and expect the same thing out of v4. While the outsole durability is good, the traction good only for road. I have already gotten a rock stuck in the midfoot gap and the amount of exposed PWRRUN PB make this shoe something I would only keep for smooth, paved surfaces.

Andrea:
I have been waiting what felt like a long time to try the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4. I have enjoyed every prior version of the Endorphin Pro and was excited to see what changes Saucony made to v4. This is a very different shoe than I was expecting and very different from v3. It is absolutely the firmest Endorphin Pro yet and feels the most tuned to faster paces. I did not notice any significant softening or breaking in of the foam over 35 test miles; the shoe feels as stiff now as it did on my first run. The combination PWRRUN PB and PWRRUN HG midsole is extremely responsive and the stiff, rockered ride encourages a quick turnover. The shoe feels light on foot and is without question a racing shoe. It feels extremely awkward to run slowly in the shoe due to its high resilience aggressive forefoot rocker. The shoe feels lower than its 8mm drop due to its well-designed heel bevel, and I found it comfortable for midfoot landings. The shoe widens at the lateral midfoot, which corresponds nicely to where I land, and the early forefoot rocker gives the shoe a firm, propulsive ride. 

I tested the shoe in several workouts including a 10 mile run at 20" slower than marathon pace and several workouts with lactate threshold, 10k, 5k, and mile pace intervals. For me, the shoe feels best at faster paces and I think the best use for me would be a 5k-10k racer. While the shoe was perfectly comfortable for my 10 mile run, I would not use it for a marathon because it is so firm and stiff. I would want something with a little more compliance for the marathon distance. Unlike previous versions of the Endorphin Pro, v4 has a redesigned outsole with extensive rubber coverage of the majority of the sole. One of my workouts was on wet roads and I had no issues with traction, even in corners. The outsole rubber shows no wear, and there is very mild wear on the exposed midsole in the midfoot. I think the outsole will have higher than average durability for a racing shoe, and the overall durability of the shoe will come down to the midsole properties.





STABILITY

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is technically a neutral shoe but is one of the more stable neutral super racing shoe. The medial and lateral sides of the shoe feature large sidewalls in the midfoot with extensions in the forefoot (more so on the medial side). These are noticeable, so those do or do not respond well to sidewalls should be aware of this. The sole is on the wider side with a filled-in medial midfoot, a large lateral forefoot flare and solid amount of medial and lateral heel flare. While the foam does compress well at the heel, the ride is still centered particularly with the split heel and slightly posterior lateral heel bevel. The filled in medial midfoot and midfoot sidewalls do a great job of making the midfoot stable neutral. The stiff forefoot, lateral flare and medial sidewall also make the forefoot fairly stable. So those looking for a stable neutral racing shoe may find it in the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4.

Andrea:
The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is a neutral racing shoe and is not for runners with significant stability needs. The firm midsole and wide base in the midfoot and forefoot provide slightly more stability as compared to other super shoes. Like most super shoes, it is a high stack, aggressively rockered shoe that will require good hip strength and mobility, due to the shift in forces from the ankle to the hip. Those with a history of proximal hamstring or hip flexor tendinopathy should proceed with caution with this shoe.



Thoughts as a DPT: Forces and Forefoot Rockers
By Andrea Myers

The Endorphin Pro 4 is super shoe with high resilience, low compliance, and an aggressive forefoot rocker. It may be the firmest super shoe I have tested, and that is not a bad thing, but it is different from the many super shoes that are both highly responsive and cushioned. The combination of the firm ride and early forefoot rocker gives the Endorphin Pro 4 a fast and propulsive ride. No matter the pace, I felt like the shoe was moving me into push off faster than I would on my own, which is a function of the forefoot rocker in combination with the foam and plate. Forefoot rockers have been found to reduce work at the ankle during running, but may increase work further up the chain. Research has yielded conflicting results on this topic, with some studies finding increased work at the knee but no increase at the hip (Sobhani et al 2017) and others finding no change at the knee or hip (Boyer and Andriacchi 2009). Findings also varied based on the preferred strike pattern of the test subjects and whether the subjects ran on a treadmill or over ground.

Anecdotally, it has become more common to see proximal hamstring and hip flexor problems in runners who wear super shoes regularly. If the geometry of a shoe causes a runner to move from initial contact to push off faster than they would in non-rockered shoes, it could potentially increase stress on the hip extensors, specifically the gluteus maximus and hamstrings. It could also stress the iliopsoas tendon, which is in a lengthened position at push off, if the iliopsoas is tight and/or weak. Much more research is needed to fully understand the biomechanical relationship (if it exists) between super shoes and hip injuries. This is not to discourage people from wearing shoes like the Endorphin Pro 4 with an aggressive forefoot rocker. It is to educate runners that if you are going to train or race in this type of shoe, you need to gradually introduce the shoe into your training to allow your body time to adapt to the unique ride of the shoe.

References:

Sobhani, S., van den Heuvel, E. R., Dekker, R., Postema, K., Kluitenberg, B., Bredeweg, S. W., & Hijmans, J. M. (2017). Biomechanics of running with rocker shoes. Journal of science and medicine in sport, 20(1), 38–44. 

Boyer, K. A., & Andriacchi, T. P. (2009). Changes in running kinematics and kinetics in response to a rockered shoe intervention. Clinical biomechanics (Bristol, Avon), 24(10), 872–876. 




RECOMMENDATIONS

Matt: While I miss the incredibly bouncy and fast ride of the Endorphin Pro 3, I understand the update to the Pro 4. It clearly distinguishes itself from the Endorphin Elite as a different shoe. However, I wish it had a little more versatility into really faster efforts (I want what Andrea is feeling) and a little better lockdown in the midfoot. I think extending the forefoot rocker to be just a little longer would make the forefoot transition a little smoother and move a little quicker for me. The midfoot is clearly made for those with higher volume feet. This will work great for those who experience foot swelling over longer miles (again, I stand by this being more of a longer-distance shoe) however the creasing of the tongue makes me concerned for hotspots. I would suggest returning to the gusseting of prior versions to allow for a better midfoot hold. 

Andrea: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is a significant update to the Endorphin Pro 3, which was a more compliant, snugger fitting super shoe that I found best for 10 mile to marathon distance races. The Endorphin Pro 4, for me, is actually a great entry into the 5k-10k racer category, whether Saucony intended it to be that way or not. It will be interesting to see how Saucony differentiates their super shoe line with an expected update to the Endorphin Elite. I am pleased that Saucony has improved the length of the Endorphin Pro 4, which will make it fit true to size for more runners, but I think the increased upper volume may limit its use for those with narrower/lower volume feet. I think if Saucony refines the upper and fit of v5, they could have an exceptional racing shoe. 

WHO IS THIS SHOE FOR?

Matt: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is best for those who want a highly cushioned, bouncy super shoe with a slight bit of firmness for longer distance efforts and races. The upper provides more volume than prior versions, so those with wide or higher volume feet may appreciate this model. Those with narrow feet may struggle to get an appropriate lockdown at the midfoot. Right now, I expect this version to be more popular with the general public than version 3. The fit is wider, it is less aggressive but still plenty bouncy and works best during long efforts. This is a classic half/full marathon shoe, compared to the almost too-aggressive ride of v3 for most people (again, I liked it). The cost is now at the lower end for super shoes ($225) but there is still a great deal of value and durability. So while I have mixed feelings about this shoe, the upper has improved and the shoe now has an understandable place within the Saucony racing line. 

Andrea: The Saucony Endorphin Pro 4 is one of the firmest super shoes on the market today. It will work best for those who prefer a very stiff, responsive racing shoe with an aggressive forefoot rocker. For those who find other super shoes too soft or want a firmer shoe for shorter races, the Endorphin Pro 4 may be just what you are looking for. At $225, the Endorphin Pro 4 is a little less than most super shoes and may have better outsole durability, so it could be a better value racing shoe as well.


GRADES

Matt
Fit: B+/A- (Slightly higher volume fit for a racer. More midfoot volume requires additional tightening of laces and tongue folds slightly). 
Performance: 
B+/A- (Highly cushioned and bouncy ride with touch of firmness from PWRRUN HG topsole. Best for tempo to marathon efforts).
Stability: A- [Stable Neutral] (Large midfoot sidewalls combined with widened medial midfoot, stiff midsole and sole flare make for one of the more stable rides among super racing shoes)
Value: B+/A- (Solid price maintenance at $225 with good durability. Still obviously a bit expensive but that's a super shoe). 
Personal: B (I appreciate this shoe but it lacks the versatility and speed I prefer into shorter distances, where I primarily focus now)
Overall Design: B+/A- 

Andrea
Fit: A- (Fits closer to true to size than previous Endorphins, but I still need 1/2 size up. Upper has too much material, which folds over when locking down the laces. Despite this, very comfortable and secure fit.)
Performance: A- 
(A very firm super shoe which I would not use for a marathon due to lack of compliance. A great 5k/10k shoe, although I'm not sure that's what Saucony had in mind when designing the shoe. Improved outsole traction over previous versions.)
Stability: C (neutral) (No stability features in this neutral racing shoe. Wider midfoot and forefoot will make the Endorphin Pro 4 more stable than narrower shoes.)
Value: B+/A- (Slightly lower price point and likely improved outsole durability makes this a better value, but the firm ride will reduce who this shoe works for.)
Personal: A- (I would race a 5k in this shoe, but it probably wouldn't be my top choice over the Vaporfly 3 or Alphafly 1. Improved fit and the forefoot rocker lines up nicely with my MTPs.)
Overall Design: B+/A-


SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Saucony Endorphin Pro 4
Price: $224.95 at Running Warehouse

Shop Men | Shop Women


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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, Santa Barbara, Danbury and Stevens Point areas, we 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 pairs.  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.

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