Published on November 27th, 2014 | by Start Fitness17
Asics Shoes – Buyers Guide
ASICS: “The Runner’s Choice” – Finding the right shoe
Arguably the world’s foremost running brand, ASICS has been developing sports apparel and performance-enhancing running shoes for over half a century. In that time the brand has revolutionised the world of sport and firmly established itself as a market leader in technical innovation. As a result, ASICS commands a dedicated following among amateur runners and elite-level athletes – all of whom believe ASICS running shoes are the ideal choice for every runner. But with so many pairs to choose from, how can you be sure what type of ASICS are right for you?
Happily Start Fitness is on hand to take you through the ASICS line-up, helping you understand what’s important so you can easily decide what type of ASICS are best-suited to your running needs.
Understanding the Basics – Everyone’s different
The first thing you need to know about running shoes is that everyone has different needs and requirements. As such, a variety of factors must be taken into account when you decide to purchase a new pair of running shoes; these variants include your weight and biomechanics, the surfaces you tend to run on, and most importantly of all, the overall shape of your feet. Obviously this criteria is broad – but you needn’t worry – ASICS has all the bases covered with an expansive range of running shoes designed to help every athlete realise their potential and achieve their running goals.
Generally speaking, ASICS divide their running shoes into three key sub-categories: Stability, Cushioned, and Natural – each of which caters to a different type of runner. Which category you fall into, and ultimately what type of shoe will suit you best, will generally be determined by your running gait and all-round running ability. The most important thing to get right, however, is choosing shoes from the right category as buying the wrong ones can hinder performance and leave you more susceptible to injury.
Stability Running Shoes
Although ASICS is renowned for innovation across the board, it’s really stability shoes that set the Japanese brand apart. From broad strokes to grace notes, this is where ASICS hit their stride and made their bones – particularly with the legendary GEL KAYANO series which continues to be the benchmark by which all other stability shoes are judged.
Designed for athletes who tend to roll their feet inwards (or OVER-PRONATE) as they run, stability shoes offer a healthy mix of medial support and cushioning that combine to curb excess pronation and counteract inwards roll. This promotes a more efficient running gait among mild to moderate OVERPRONATORS and lessens the risk of injury. By eliminating OVERPRONATION stability shoes also help disperse impact force more evenly through the outsole which reduces wear and tear and prolongs shoe-life.
ASICS offer a range of shoes in this class, all of which incorporate a variety of technologies designed to increase arch stability for runners who need greater ANTI-PRONATION support. These technologies include FLUIDRIDE, which provides exceptional bounce-back and cushioning properties; DYNAMIC DUOMAX, which enhances support at the medial side of the foot to prevent excessive inwards roll; and a torsion control IMPACT GUIDANCE SYSTEM, which improves gait efficiency among mild to moderate OVERPRONATORS.
The main point of difference between the ASICS shoes in this category is whether they offer DUOMAX or DYNAMIC DUOMAX support. The former uses a dual-density midsole to increase stability and support, while the latter enhances this performance with an added layer of FLUIDRIDE foam above the midsole to encourage smoother transitions without adding weight. ASICS also up the amount of GEL CUSIONING incorporated in each shoe as you move up the price range.
The flagship entry in ASICS’ stability shoe range, the GEL KAYANO 21 is the most advanced running shoe ASICS have ever produced. Brimming with new technologies and tried and tested ASICS features, the latest incarnation of the legendary GEL-KAYANO is the perfect shoe for OVERPRONATORS looking for comfort and support over longer distances. Featuring ASICS’ signature GEL CUSHIONING UNITS at the heel and forefoot, the KAYANO 21 also uses FLUIDRIDE midsole technology to ensure your 26th mile is as comfortable as your first. If you’re looking for the best stability shoe on the market, look no further.
The GT 2000 2 is the mid-point in ASICS’ stability shoe range and acts as a good starting point for anyone interested in this type of shoe. It’s the latest entry in ASICS’ hugely popular GT series and builds on the success of previous models, offering all the features athletes have grown to love but with a few tweaks and refinements thrown in for good measure. Notable updates on the GT 2000 2 include a lightweight FLUIDRIDE midsole and DYNAMIC DUOMAX support, which provides outstanding medial support while aiding smoother transitions among mild to moderate OVERPRONATORS.
Although the GT 1000 2 is an entry-level shoe, there’s nothing entry-level about its performance and you get an impressive array of spec for your money. You get GEL CUSHIONING at the rear and forefoot for added comfort and reduced ground impact, while standard DUOMAX support under the arch works to correct an OVERPRONATED running stride. There’s also a full-length GUIDANCE LINE SYSTEM which establishes a line of progression from impact to toe-off and works to improve the efficiency of your stride.
Cushioned Running Shoes
Built for runners with an UNDERPRONATED or NEUTRAL stride, cushioned running shoes are generally lighter and have no motion control features as they’re intended for athletes who need minimal pronation support. Shoes like this are usually built on a curved or partially curved platform to encourage smooth, but fast transitions and incorporate cushioned inserts at the heel and forefoot to improve underfoot feel.
As the name suggests, cushioning is key here as runners with an UNDERPRONATED or NEUTRAL stride require maximum impact protection to compensate for the fact that their feet don’t roll much during impact. Natural foot roll (whether inwards or outwards) helps disperse impact force through the gait cycle and maximise shock absorption throughout the lower leg. Unfortunately, runners who don’t do this naturally are more susceptible to impact-related injuries as their running style is less forgiving and places greater strain on the joints. Cushioned shoes are designed to combat this, absorbing shock that would otherwise be sent through the joints and spine to reduce the chance of impact-related injuries. This type of shoe is ideal for athletes with high arches, or runners who favour training on less forgiving surfaces – like asphalt.
ASICS have a range of shoes in this class, all of which offer exceptional comfort and plenty of cushioning courtesy of ASICS’ signature GEL CUSHIONING technology…
The GEL KINSEI 5 is at the cutting edge of ASICS’ cushioning category and offers the very latest in running technology. It introduces a new FLUIDFIT upper which is capable of stretching in multiple directions at once, while a combination of DISCRETE EYESTAYS and an EXOSKELETAL HEEL provide peerless comfort and an adaptive, glove-like fit. Silicone-based GEL CUSHIONING UNITS inserted at critical areas of the sole also ensure superior ride quality and unparalleled shock absorption; reducing the risk of injury and allowing for smoother transitions through the step. This edition of the shoe also incorporates a new PROPULSION TRUSSTIC in the sole, which encourages forward momentum and improves your running gait – helping you push-off harder and accelerate faster.
Ideal for athletes with a NEUTRAL or UNDERPRONATED stride, the GEL NIMBUS 16 is the latest entry in ASICS’ legendary line of cushioned running shoes and offers unrivalled comfort and stability. The shoe pairs ASICS’ signature GEL CUSHIONING technology with their most advanced midsole material to date, FLUIDRIDE, which provides superior bounce-back and exceptional ride quality. Utilising dual midsole construction FLUIDRIDE combines full-length layers of SpEVA and SoLyte to cushion the foot from heel to toe throughout the gait cycle. The result is a luxurious running experience that cushions your feet from the first mile to the last.
Engineered for better bounce-back and a more comfortable ride, the GEL-CUMULUS 16 offers improved shock absorption thanks to larger GEL® Cushioning Units at the rear and forefoot, while strategically-placed flex grooves ensure better traction throughout the gait cycle. It’s the addition of extra cushioning that’s most noticeable, however, and runners with a NEUTRALLY PRONATED stride will certainly feel the difference on longer runs. The CUMULUS 16 punches well above its weight in terms of cushioning, and it’s also the lightest entry in the GEL CUMULUS series to date.
Natural Running Shoes
Natural running shoes are primarily aimed at biometrically efficient runners who want maximum responsiveness and a more “barefoot” running experience. Runners like this are typically more advanced, and consequently this type of shoe generally offers less support with a stripped-down midsole that allows the foot to ride closer to the floor. Natural running shoes also tend to be lighter and incorporate a lower heel-to-toe differential to encourage running from the mid and forefoot (rather than the heel) and promote a more ‘direct ground feeling’.
The key thing to understand about this type of shoe is that because natural running places a greater emphasis on flexibility and freedom, natural running shoes tend to do away with anything superfluous. They only retain what’s essential for basic functionality – the ‘bare necessities’ – thereby allowing your feet to move as freely as possible. That being said, ASICS’ range of natural running shoes tend to incorporate significantly more cushioning than many other manufacturers. Nevertheless, it’s important to remember that these shoes have been specially designed to offer a different type of running experience – and one that’s widely regarded as more demanding. But don’t let that discourage you, natural running has become increasingly popular in recent years and ASICS has a range of shoes that are sure to convert you to the natural running revolution…
The GEL EXCEL 33 is widely regarded as a great transition shoe for runners looking to try natural running for the first time. It has similar features to a traditional running shoe and employs a fairly standard heel-to-toe differential of 10mm. It also includes a thin layer of GEL CUSHIONING in the heel which makes the initial switch to natural running more forgiving. The inclusion of FLUID AXIS technology in the sole, which uses anatomically correct flex grooves to align the joints of the foot, also helps the shoe adapt to every athlete’s foot and respond to positional changes as you run.
Light and low, the GEL SUPER J33 is a lightweight, high performance running shoe that allows OVERPRONATED runners to get in on the craze for natural running without sacrificing support. It has heel-to-toe offset of 6mm, which hits the ‘sweet spot’ between barefoot and traditional running shoes, while a dual density midsole delivers PRONATION support that surpasses other lightweight options. Built on a flexible, low-offset platform, the geometry of GEL SUPER hits the mark between natural ride and support beautifully, while FLUIDAXIS technology allows the foot to move more naturally through the gait cycle. A wider toebox also gives increased freedom at the forefoot for a more natural take-off and landing. If you’re considering natural running, the GEL SUPER gives you a chance to run quickly and efficiently, safe in the knowledge your feet are getting the support they need.
Engineered for speed above all else, the GEL LYTE 33 is the lightest and most flexible entry in ASICS’ range of natural running shoes. It incorporates a variety of features designed to encourage a dynamic range of motion and explosive speed, including a F.A.S.T heel drop of 6mm and FLUIDAXIS flex grooves. The shoe also comes with a dual-density midsole, constructed from full-length layers of SpEVA and EVA, to promote more natural take-offs and landings. The focus on unrestricted freedom continues into the forefoot, where a wider toe-box increases the foot’s natural range of motion.
Hopefully this guide will leave you a bit more confident about selecting your next pair of ASICS, but if you’re still uncertain Start Fitness offer a range of in-store services designed to take the hassle out of finding the right shoe. Pop-in for a chat with one of our fitting specialists, or email [email protected] for more details.
Get out there. Get running – Start Fitness.