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9 Best Rocker Bottom Shoes Of 2024 + Who Should Wear Them, According To Podiatrists

Caitlyn Martyn
Author: Medical reviewer:
August 09, 2023
Caitlyn Martyn
Contributor
By Caitlyn Martyn
Contributor
Caitlyn Martyn is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Byrdie, InStyle, Popsugar and more.
Medical review by
Michael Galoyan, D.P. M.
Dr. Michael Galoyan specializes in podiatry and received his doctorate in podiatry from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Galoyan advanced his training by completing a residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Northwell Health, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.
best rocker bottom shoes
Image by mbg creative
August 09, 2023
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The best rocker bottom shoes:

With similar benefits, running and walking both have the ability to reduce stress, improve mood, boost cardiovascular health, and promote longevity1—but if you're not wearing the right shoes, you're not setting yourself up for success. The best rocker bottom shoes have enough cushion for a soft landing but still feel lightweight on your feet.

Outdoor workouts are not only a great way to stay healthy and active, but they also give you a great excuse to soak up some much-needed vitamin D. To reap these benefits and prevent injury, let's make sure you're lacing up the right sneakers.

What are rocker bottom shoes?

According to holistic podiatrist Robert Kornfeld, DPM, rocker bottom shoes have thicker-than-normal soles with a wider heel.

"Rocker soles foster different dynamic results depending on where the 'rocker' is placed," he explains. "Under the ball of the foot will ease stress there; placed further back it can ease stress in the heel or the ankle."

You've likely seen this style at the gym, on the street, or on your local running path. Hoka, for example, uses a meta-rocker design for every shoe.

Rocker bottom shoes are specifically meant to push the foot forward, making the style a great option for running, walking, or other forward-moving sports.

What to look for in rocker bottom shoes

Adequate cushioning is critical for runners and walkers, but Kornfeld says flexibility is also important. A quick test for flexibility is to make sure you can easily bend the forefoot of the shoe with your fingers.

"Support comes from well-constructed upper and supportive inner soles," Kornfeld explains. "Since so many runners develop injuries and switch to custom-molded running orthotics, the inner sole should be easy to remove from the shoe."

When deciding which rocker bottom shoe is best for you, check that the shoe is flexible, well-cushioned, and (of course) feels comfortable on your feet. You'll also want to take note of how durable the materials feel and whether the cost fits into your budget.

Our picks for the best rocker bottom shoes:

Best supportive: On Running Cloudmonster

Pros:

  • Handles slow and fast paces
  • Max-cushion technology
  • Soft and supportive

Cons:

  • Has quite a bit of height
  • Might have to size up

Materials:

Recycled polyesterRubber

Sizes available:

5-11

Colorways:

9

Drop:

6mm

Weight:

8.11 oz.

Return policy:

30 days, varies by retailer

As the name suggests, these shoes take cushioning to the max—but they still feel like a versatile daily trainer. The Cloudmonster has the unique ability to handle slow paces as well as faster ones with ease, thanks to a springy cloud-like cushioning system that quite literally propels you forward.

Once our tester (me, the writer) unboxed these Cloudmonsters, she hit the ground running—except it didn’t feel like it at all. Instead, it truly felt like I was running on clouds.

While we wouldn’t say these sneakers offer a trampoline effect (no bouncing around), they do encourage you to keep going even when your legs grow tired.

All in all, these soft, cushioned trainers are a joy to run in, and they'd be equally comfortable for a walk or a long shift on your feet.

Best cushioned: Nike Zoom Fly 5

Pros:

  • Fun color options
  • Ideal for walks and runs

Cons:

  • Runs big

Materials:

Carbon fiber plateReact foam

Sizes available:

5-12, half sizes available

Colorways:

9

Drop:

8mm

Weight:

9.5 oz.

Return policy:

60 days, varies by retailer

This new Nike design features ZoomX foam in the midsole, which makes for a lighter, more responsive cushion than other models. The extra foam not only feels more comfortable, but also allows you to run easier for longer.

Plus, a carbon plate delivers a propulsive sensation that helps you keep the pace and encourages that roll-forward feel that we know and love about rocker-bottom shoes.

Customers rave about their experiences with the Zoom Fly 5, making note of how comfortable the fit is and how the arch support is top-notch for exercise and everyday activities.

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Best for standing: Skechers Max Cushioning Elite-Destination Point

Pros:

  • Neutral color options available
  • Supportive against hard surfaces

Cons:

  • Not the most stylish

Materials:

RubberSynthetic material

Sizes available:

5-12, half sizes available

Colorways:

6

Drop:

5mm

Weight:

16 oz.

Return policy:

30 days, varies by retailer

The sneakers you wear on your feet all day should be similar to the ones you might pick for a long walk or run. That said, it’s important to support all areas of your feet, and opt for a pair that has maximum comfort in mind—especially if you’ll be standing on hard surfaces.

The lightweight, high-rebound cushioned insole on this machine-washable shoe offers comfortable support without weighing you down. With a breathable, moisture-wicking lining, your feet won't get hot or sweaty (even if you're in these all day).

Take one look at the Amazon reviews and you'll see waiters, nurses, and other members of the food service and healthcare industries swear by these shoes for optimal comfort.

Best for walking: Hoka Clifton 9

Pros:

  • Sizes available in B and D width
  • Responsive, shock-absorbing cushioning

Cons:

  • Some find the sole to be too cushioned

Materials:

Recycled polyesterRubberRecycled nylon

Sizes available:

5-12, half sizes available

Colorways:

17

Drop:

5mm

Weight:

7.3 oz.

Return policy:

30 days, varies by retailer

Hokas are a widely popular brand of running shoes known for their ultra-cushioned rocker soles and effective shock absorption—so it’s no wonder this model has been awarded a seal of approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA).

The wide, rounded shape gives toes lots of wiggle room, making this model a great option for those with wide feet. The knit material molds to the shape of the foot, offering stability and a made-for-you feel that eliminates sliding and overpronation.

While all Hoka’s shoes feature comfy, cloud-like soles, these are especially excellent rocker bottoms for walking and many hours spent on your feet.

We’ve included this model in our roundups of the best sneakers for standing all day, best shoes for arch support, best shoes for knee pain, best gym shoes, and the best shoes for high arches, so it’s safe to say these are a versatile pick.

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Best for Plantar Fascitis: New Balance Fresh Foam X More V4

Pros:

  • Neutral goes-with-anything colorways
  • Plush yet stable running experience

Cons:

  • Can make an annoying noise while running

Materials:

Foam

Sizes available:

7-16, half sizes available

Colorways:

9

Drop:

4mm

Weight:

10.9 oz.

Return policy:

90 days, varies by retailer

If you have plantar fasciitis (inflammation of the plantar fascia, tissue in the foot used during walking and foot movement), you know how painful it can be. Not to mention, you’re probably not able to run as much as you’d prefer.

While plantar fasciitis can be caused by a number of factors, including the type of shoes, foot structure, overuse, etc., there are a few shoe options for plantar fasciitis that can help you run while mitigating pain.

The latest iteration of New Balance's Fresh Foam family utilizes more foam than ever before. Despite a taller stack height, the shoe evenly distributes pressure and stability across the entire length of the shoe, offering a plush-yet-stable running experience.

Best of all, the shoe doesn’t require any breaking in. Once you have your shoes, you can expect to feel comfort from mile one.

Note: Definitely check with your doctor before lacing up and heading out for a run if you’re in pain!

Best impact-absorbing: Hoka Bondi 8

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Chunky and bouncy
  • Absorbs impact from hard surfaces underneath

Cons:

  • We wish there were more neutral colorway options available

Materials:

Recycled polyesterRubber

Sizes available:

5-12, half sizes available

Colorways:

19

Drop:

4mm

Weight:

8.9 oz.

Return policy:

30 days, varies by retailer

Hoka’s most cushioned shoe, the Bondi 8 is one of the best max-cushioned running shoes on the market. It's plush, ultra-light, and, best of all, resilient, so you can count on this shoe to offer a ton of bounce.

The tall stack height works to absorb impact with each step, making high impact activities like running easier on your knees and other leg joints. With all that foam under your feet, the Bondi 8 is surprisingly light and doesn’t feel clunky while you run.

Our tester (me again, the writer) has been wearing these shoes for over a month now and absolutely loves the height and bounce they provide. It almost feels like from the moment you lace up, your shoes do all the running for you.

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Best for running: ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25

Pros:

  • Versatile
  • Great for all kinds of runs
  • Plenty of color options

Cons:

  • Some find the sole to be too cushioned

Materials:

SolyteSpEVA

Sizes available:

5-13, half sizes available

Colorways:

20

Drop:

8mm

Weight:

8.9 oz.

Return policy:

90 days, varies by retailer

Like most sneaker brands, ASICS upgrades its designs fairly regularly. Despite a few modifications and changes, the Gel Nimbus model continues to hold up through all types of runs (long, short, recovery, speed, you name it).

With the Gel Nimbus sneakers, you won't need to purchase separate sneakers for speed training and heavier mileage, which is a major win in our book.

Mindbodygreen commerce editor, Carleigh Ferrante, vouches for this; in fact, she’s worn this style of running shoes for several marathons and the training in between.

“I’m constantly impressed by the design’s impact protection; the sole has enough cushioning for a soft landing but not so much that the entire shoe feels heavy,” she explains. “I mean it when I say that I could barely feel these on my feet during the marathon (though by the end, I couldn't feel much of anything.”

Best lightweight: Saucony Triumph

Pros:

  • Great traction
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Some say the toe box is too narrow

Materials:

FoamRecycled materials

Sizes available:

5-12, half sizes available

Colorways:

11

Drop:

10mm

Weight:

8.8 oz

Return policy:

30 days, varies by retailer

This high-performance shoe is made with extra cushioning for a smoother landing with every step. Great for sprints, long runs, and casual strolls, the Triump is lightweight-yet-secure. 

The shoe is made using vegan, partially recyclable materials, with wide sizes available and 11 colorways to choose from. There’s also enough traction for both paved and gravel trails—and reviewers say the shoes are surprisingly comfortable and responsive.

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Best for narrow feet: Women's MBT-1997

Pros

  • Maximum cushioning
  • Foam insole for extra padding
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Limited sizes
  • Run small

Materials:

RubberFoamRecycled materialsSynthetic leather

Sizes available:

5.5-10

Colorways:

8

Drop:

Not specified

Weight:

8.6oz

Return policy:

30 days

MBT designs its shoes with a high-quality foam insole for extra padding and a patented heel sensor to reduce impact on knee and hip joints. This particular style has an increased level of rock that really pushes your foot forward.

The footbed is removable, in case you want to put in your own orthotics—but the brand recommends consulting with your podiatrist before swapping out the existing insole. Reviewers rave that the shoes help alleviate joint pain and feel sturdy and supportive.

Just note a few people state that the shoes run small, so size up if you're unsure.

Comparing the best rocker bottom shoes

ProductCostSizesColorwaysMaterialsReturn policyDropWeight
On Running Cloudmonster$1705-119Recycled polyester; Rubber30 days6mm8.11 oz.
Hoka Clifton 9$1455-1217Recycled polyester; Rubber; Recycled nylon30 days5mm7.3 oz.
Skechers Max Cushioning Elite-Destination Point$1005-126Solyte; SpEVA30 days5mm16 oz
ASICS GEL-Nimbus 25$1235-1320Rubber; EVA; Velvet; Leather or calf hair90 days8mm8.9 oz.
New Balance Fresh Foam X More V4$1507-169Foam90 days4mm10.9 oz.
Hoka Bondi 8$1655-1219Recycled polyester; Rubber30 days4mm8.9 oz.
Nike Zoom Fly 5$1605-1240Carbon fiber plate; React foam60 days8mm9.5 oz.
Saucony Triumph$1605-1211Recycled materials; Foam30 days10mm8.8 oz.
MBT-1977$2005.5-108Rubber; Foam; Recycled materials; Synthetic leather30 daysNot specified8.6 oz.

How we picked

Support

We selected shoes that will provide optimal support to all areas of your foot, from your ankle to the tips of your toes.

Shock absorption

We chose sneakers that absorb impact from the ground as you stand, walk, and run on hard surfaces.

Sturdiness

We included sneakers that are sturdy and up for anything, whether that's sprints, long walks, or working on your feet for 9+ hours.

Expert insight

We kept our expert's insight in mind when selecting the best rocker bottom shoes, looking for sneakers with sufficient cushioning and flexibility.

How shoes impact our health and longevity

On a recent episode of the mindbodygreen podcast, longevity-focused physician Peter Attia, M.D., spoke about the importance of daily movement for health and longevity, calling exercise the pathway to a healthier heart.

Research backs this, too. One study showed that just one or two moderate- or vigorous-intensity activities per week could reduce the risk of dying2 from cardiovascular disease (40%), cancer (18%), or something else (30%), when compared with inactive individuals.

Of course, if your shoes are putting you at risk of injury, it could hinder your ability to perform even leisurely activities.

Rocker bottom shoes are designed to lessen the impact on the foot when it hits the ground, so cushioning is important, per Kornfeld. It's reasonable to say that the shoes we use to run and walk can increase or decrease the stress up the leg, into the low back, and throughout the rest of the body.

"The amount of cushioning or support you need in your shoe will depend on individual biomechanical factors, the type of surfaces being run on, and the amount of mileage per run," Kornfeld adds.

How to choose the best rocker bottom shoes

Ready to buy a pair of your own? Consider these three factors when choosing one:

Support

Support is one of the most important factors to consider when buying a pair of shoes, regardless of what their intended use is. Go with the pair that feels firm yet comfortable enough to support your body while you move.

Size

Sizing is key. After all, there's nothing worse (or potentially dangerous to your body) than an ill-fitting pair of shoes. Be sure to read size charts before purchasing your pair.

Comfort

Arguably the most important test of a good shoe is comfort. You should want to wear your shoes for long periods of time without taking them off.

FAQ

What are rocker bottom shoes good for?

"Because rocker bottom shoes are typically thick-soled, they are less flexible and therefore can be problematic in patients with more rigid foot structures," says Kornfeld. "Other than that, the deciding factor is comfort. There are a number of different conditions rocker soles can be helpful for, such as ankle and midfoot arthritis, pain in the ball of the foot, arthritis of the first metatarsophalangeal joint, heel pain, and arch pain."

Do Hokas have rocker bottoms?

Hokas are popular rocker sole shoes because they are well cushioned, lightweight, and have a rocker-style bottom that can relieve stress on the Achilles tendon and plantar fascia, says Kornfeld. "I recommend them in certain instances if a patient needs help to propel via the rocker sole."

What are the cons to wearing rocker sole shoes?

Since they create a surface that "rolls" the foot forward, there is less of a need to use the calf muscles to lift the heel and propel forward. This can weaken the muscles over time, says Kornfeld. "Patients who require more stability may find aggravated instability in a rocker bottom," he explains. "Some overweight patients may find the rocker uncomfortable or even painful."

Are rocker soles good for plantar fasciitis?

According to Kornfeld, rocker sole shoes are good for some patients with plantar fasciitis but are not a universal one-size-fits-all fix.

Are rocker bottom shoes good for neuropathy?

By its very nature, patients with neuropathy have an unstable gait, says Kornfeld. "Rocker bottoms can aggravate that, so I do not recommend them to neuropathy patients," he adds.

Are rocker shoes good for back pain?

Rocker bottom shoes can be helpful for patients with very tight calf muscles.

"When the calf muscles overwork, they cause excessive knee flexion leading to unstable pelvic function," explains Kornfeld. "This causes the low back muscles to tighten and to stabilize the pelvis."

The takeaway

If you're in the market for a pair of running or walking shoes that propel you forward and offer a much-needed pick-me-up, rocker-bottom shoes might be your best bet. At mindbodygreen, we believe the right pair of sneakers will take you far—whether that be on a walk around the block or through the finish line of your next marathon. For more sneaker guidance, check out our picks of the best running shoes.

Meet The Experts

Caitlyn Martyn is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Byrdie, InStyle, Popsugar and more.
Dr. Michael Galoyan specializes in podiatry and received his doctorate in podiatry from the New York College of Podiatric Medicine. Dr. Galoyan advanced his training by completing a residency in podiatric medicine and surgery at Northwell Health, Long Island Jewish Forest Hills.

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