What are the best running shoes for PHT?

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This episode covers what running shoe you need to recovery from Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy including:

  • Your shoe

    The Best Running Shoes for Proximal Hamstring Tendinopathy: Exploring the Impact

    Welcome to a new episode where we delve into the world of running shoes and their impact on proximal hamstring tendinopathy (PHT). We’ll explore the relevance of shoe features like stack height, heel drop, and weight, and discover the key factors that can help you overcome this condition. I’m Brody Sharp, your host, an online physiotherapist, recreational athlete, and a fellow PHT warrior. Whether you’re an athlete or not, we aim to empower you to overcome this condition with the right knowledge and practical takeaways.

    The Initial Question: Does the Right Shoe Matter for PHT?

    The idea for today’s episode stemmed from a Facebook post in a PhD support group that discussed the best running shoes for PHT. Initially, my gut reaction was that shoes might not have a significant impact on PHT compared to other factors. However, upon deeper reflection, I realized there could be some relevance, even if it’s a mere 5%. So, let’s explore this topic and see if we can provide some valuable insights.

    The Shoe Features: Stack Height and Heel Drop

    Let’s start by discussing two key components of running shoes: stack height and heel drop.

    Stack Height

    Stack height refers to how high your foot is off the ground when wearing a particular shoe. Different shoes have varying thicknesses of sole underneath the foot, leading to different stack heights. Some shoes have thin soles, placing your foot closer to the ground, while others have thicker soles, raising your foot higher.

    Relevance to PHT: Shoes with a thicker stack height and higher heel drop may allow some runners to overstride without discomfort. Overstriding occurs when your foot lands too far in front of your center of mass, leading to inefficient braking forces and increased strain on the hamstrings. While some runners can avoid overstriding regardless of their shoe choice, those with bulkier shoes might be more prone to this issue.

    What to Do: If your shoe has a significant stack height and heel drop, be cautious of overstriding. You can check your shoe’s specifications online or measure it yourself. Avoid overstriding by focusing on making contact underneath your body when you run.

    Weight of the Shoe

    The weight of your running shoes can vary significantly, ranging from 150 grams to 600 grams. The weight of the shoe has a notable influence on running economy, which measures how efficiently you run at a given speed. Heavier shoes can lead to increased hamstring load, potentially contributing to PHT.

    Relevance to PHT: A heavier shoe requires more work from the hamstring during the late swing phase of running, where the muscle needs to decelerate and control the leg’s swinging motion. This eccentric loading can strain the hamstring, especially when combined with other factors.

    What to Do: If your shoes are heavy, consider transitioning to lighter shoes gradually. Abrupt changes in shoe weight can increase the risk of injury, particularly to the lower leg and foot. Be mindful and patient during the transition.

    The Bigger Rocks: Factors that Truly Matter for PHT

    While the right choice of running shoes can have a minor impact on PHT, there are three more significant factors that you should focus on:

    1. Cadence (Step Rate)

    Your cadence refers to the number of steps you take per minute while running. An optimal cadence is typically above 160 steps per minute. A lower cadence may indicate inefficiency or overstriding.

    Relevance to PHT: Increasing your cadence by 5% can help prevent overstriding and reduce hamstring strain.

    What to Do: Measure your cadence and aim to increase it if it’s below the optimal range. Maintain a consistent running speed while doing so.

    2. Terrain

    The terrain you run on can influence PHT, especially when running uphill. Uphill running increases hip flexion, putting additional strain on the hamstring.

    Relevance to PHT: Be cautious when running on hilly terrain, as it can exacerbate PHT symptoms. Consider modifying your route to reduce inclines.

    3. Running Speed

    Running too fast can significantly worsen PHT. The hamstring works much harder as running speed increases, which can lead to persistent symptoms.

    Relevance to PHT: Slowing down your running pace is crucial for recovery. Even when you feel better, avoid running too fast too soon to prevent a relapse.


    In summary, while the choice of running shoes can impact PHT to some extent, factors like stack height, heel drop, and shoe weight contribute only about 5% to the overall picture. To truly overcome PHT, focus on the bigger rocks: cadence, terrain, and running speed. These factors play a more substantial role in managing and preventing PHT. Remember, slow and steady progress is key to long-term recovery.

    Thank you for tuning in to this episode, and best of luck with your PHT rehabilitation journey. Your commitment to knowledge and empowerment is your path to a pain-free future.