Mizuno Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

The only reason I liked Mizuno was because they sponsored Tirunesh Dibaba, who is my favorite runner and a great example of what forefoot running looks like.

However, Mizuno shoes for forefoot strikers are hard to come by since Mizuno caters mostly to heel strike runners which is clearly evident by looking at the design of most of their shoes: the under-heel padding is enormous (below).

Most Mizuno Running Shoes Aren't Designed Well for Forefoot Running
Most Mizuno running shoes are made for a heel strike running style, which is why their shoes are made with thick, under-heel padding. This is futile for forefoot running because a stacked heel makes it challenging to land squarely on the forefoot.

Mizuno Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

In my opinion, the only acceptable forefoot running shoe by Mizuno is the Wave Universe 5 (below): no heel, nice and flat and incredibly light.

Mizuno Minimalist Shoes for Forefoot Strikers

I prefer the Universe 5 over the Universe 3 because the 5’s are more minimal as per the lower heel.

Mizuno Universe 3 for forefoot running
Above, the Mizuno Universe 3 has more under-heel protection and is less minimal than the Mizuno Universe 5.

The Universe 3’s has a slightly built up heel composed of plastic materials to accommodate a heel strike landing. It’s best not to run forefoot in a shoe that has structural elements aimed more squarely at facilitating or encouraging heel strike.

The Universe 5 is best known as a feather-light racing flat, weighing 4oz, very comparable in weight to the Vibram FiveFingers.

The outsole is better organized for forefoot running (i.e. no plastic-wave heel like the 3’s) which is why many pure minimalist runners prefer the Universe 5’s.

Another critical component of the lightness of the shoe is the ultra-thin upper mesh, allowing breathability and flexibility without compromising durability. The high degree of breathability of the upper makes the shoe great for running in the heat.

Other notable feats:

  • lighter than the huaraches running sandals
  • upper is more elastic, doesn’t tighten too much, allowing more flexibility, accommodating wider feet
  • thin sole enhances plantar sensations, allowing lighter physical interactions with the plantar surface with the ground
  • best used for speedwork, but can be worn for all distances in running, including marathons
  • feels just like a track spike, but without the spikes
  • insole flat, but feels slightly squishy, like a sock, nothing more
  • larger toe box than previous models
  • provides enough traction for slippery surfaces
  • internal lining is comfortable, didn’t cause blisters, great for going sockless

The ‘perfect’ forefoot strike depends on plantar sensory feedback. The Universe 5, ideal for sharpening your forefoot strike, is a great alternative to the Vibram FiveFingers or barefoot-inspired running-sandals.

Of course, if you are new to forefoot running and/or pure minimalist running, use logic and gradually work up to running in these shoes. In the meantime, walk as much as possible in them to speed up foot strengthening processes.

More From Run Forefoot:

Bretta Riches

"I believe the forefoot strike is the engine of endurance running..."

BSc Neurobiology; MSc Biomechanics candidate, ultra minimalist runner & founder of RunForefoot. I was a heel striker, always injured. I was inspired by the great Tirunesh Dibaba to try forefoot running. Now, I'm injury free. This is why I launched Run Forefoot, to advocate the health & performance benefits of forefoot running and to raise awareness on the dangers of heel striking, because the world needs to know.
Bretta Riches

P.S. Don't forget to check out the Run Forefoot Facebook Page, it's a terrific place to ask questions about forefoot running, barefoot running and injury. I'm always happy to help!

1 Comment

  1. The Mizuno Wave Universe 5 is my all time favorite running shoe. Nothing even comes close. Too bad they don’t make them anymore. They’re impossible to find anywhere.

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