You may have seen shoes sporting thick soles with sloping heels and toes and wondered what they are. These are rocker bottom shoes designed to reduce pressure on the heels and forefeet when walking—but which are the best rocker bottom shoes?
We will review several different brands, and look at the potential benefits of these shoes to help you choose.
1. Hoka One One Bondi 6 Shoes
Hoka shoes with their Meta-Rocker technology are quite distinctive. The soles mimic the movement of a rocking chair for smooth, efficient motion. Lots of cushioning and support are built-in to these 100 percent vegan shoes.
2. Skechers Women’s Max Cushioning Elite Sneaker
Skechers are well known for their comfortable sneaker style shoes. These have a patented UltraGo platform sole and an almost seamless mesh upper. The mid-foot strike zone helps alleviate the impact on the heels and forefeet.
- Lightweight and responsive Ultra Go midsole foam
- Skechers Air Cooled Goga Mat insole
- Breathable mesh upper with Haptic printed details
- Soft fabric lining
- Closure Type: Lace-Up
3. New Balance Suede 928v3
New Balance has built-in stability and motion control in these comfortable walking shoes. There is a choice of four widths up to a double extra-wide. The uppers are flexible, and allow your feet to breathe, while odor control keeps your feet fresh.
- Removable polyurethane footbeds
- Rubber outsole
- Suede upper
4. HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 4 Running Shoe
This is our second offering from Hoka, the Arahi running shoe. It’s the fourth version of this popular shoe for men and women. All the support previously offered is built-in with a lighter mesh upper.
5. Alegria Women’s Paloma Flats
This Mary Jane style shoe for the ladies is both practical and pretty. It has a leather upper and lining, allowing airflow for fresh feet. American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) approved the rocker platform outsole encourages good posture. The footbed is designed to contour your feet.
6. MBT Sport3 Walking Shoe
MBT brings us sports shoes with their patented rocker sole—they mimic walking on an uneven surface to help with balance. The uppers are mesh and leather, and they feature sensors in the heel and midfoot, which absorb shock. The pivot strike area in the soles helps propulsion while supporting and cushioning your feet.
- This lace-up rocker shoe is designed to improve muscle regeneration, posture, and stride.
Our Top 6 Picks of the Best Rocker Bottom Shoes
With so much choice on the market, choosing the best rocker bottom shoes to meet your needs can be a challenge. Here are what we think are six of the best available.
1. Hoka One One Bondi 6 Running Shoe
Hoka is a fledgling company in sports shoe manufacturers, entering the market in 2009. It’s a footwear brand designed by sportsmen to make running easier, whether on mountains, trails, track, or road.
This video details the origins of these chunky but lightweight shoes, which cushion and cradle your feet.
The company describes its patented Meta-Rocker feature as “wheels for your feet.” It combines their unique shape with a low heel-toe drop, a bit like the base of a rocking chair. This aims to propel you while enhancing your natural gait.
There’s also a patented Active Foot Frame that Hoka likens to sitting in the bucket seat of a race car. It cradles and supports your feet deeply into the midsole of the shoes.
The sizes for men range from 7 to 14, in wide and regular widths.
A choice of colors includes various shades of blues, yellows, greys, oranges, greens, and black. Ladies’ shoes come in sizes 5 to 11, wide, narrow and regular widths, and colors including pinks, greys, and blues.
Open mesh uppers let plenty of air through so your feet can breathe. A Lycra comfort heel section and internal heel counter give support and comfort. They also securely lock your heels in the shoes.
A lightweight rubber platform outsole and compression-molded EVA midsole provide traction and cushioning. For the eco-conscious, these shoes are 100 percent vegan.
Many users find these shoes help alleviate the pain associated with foot problems and knee issues.
On the downside, while Hoka offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on their shoes, it seems the durability is questionable. They could wear out after a few months.
- Rocker sole encourages a natural gait.
- Cushioned and supportive.
- Mesh uppers allow feet to breathe.
- 30-day money-back guarantee.
- Suitable for vegans.
- Might not be durable enough for some.
|Newcomers Hoka brings us these rocker-style bottom shoes, which encourage you to walk naturally. They’re cushioned and supportive with features to keep your heels locked in. The materials are 100 percent vegan.|
2. Skechers Women’s Max Cushioning Elite Sneaker
Skechers rocker bottom shoes made this type of footwear quite famous because of their celebrity endorsed Shape-Ups range.
It seems most of these have now been discontinued, possibly due to the controversy surrounding their advertising claims—toned thighs and tush just from walking! Rocker bottom shoes are still available, this max cushioning Elite being one of the popular models.
The trendy purple uppers have a pink and white rocker sole with a black heel and toe section. The sizes available are 5 to 11 in regular and wide.
Breathability and comfort come from the engineered mesh fabric uppers, which have almost no seams. This reduces the chances of blisters and pressure points from stitching.
Patented Ultra Go midsoles provide a cushioned platform for your feet, while flex grooves in the forefoot make the shoes flexible. The strike zone in these shoes is in the midfoot, and this helps make your stride more efficient.
The outer sole gains traction on multiple surfaces from the parametric web design. Even though it’s thick, it’s still lightweight—each ladies’ shoe in size 7 weighs just 7.5 ounces.
An added benefit with these shoes is they are machine washable on a gentle cycle with cold water. Once washed, hang them out to air dry.
There is a similar style available for men, the Max cushioning Elite SR. Available in black, the sizes range from 7 to 14 in regular and wide widths. They have the same great features as the ladies’ shoes—with the addition of oil-resistant soles and a memory foam insole.
Some find the toe-box in these shoes a little on the narrow side.
- Breathable mesh uppers.
- Thick cushioned sole.
- Midfoot strike zone.
- Machine washable.
- Toe box may be too narrow for some.
|Skechers bring us a rocker bottom shoe in a trendy color with plenty of cushioning and support. The uppers are breathable, seamless mesh, and the soles have a midfoot strike zone. The shoes are also machine washable.|
3. New Balance Suede 928v3
New Balance is an American company that still produces most of its shoes on home ground. The well-known brand has been in the business of manufacturing sports shoes for over 100 years.
Sizes range from 7 to 16 and 5 to 13, respectively. There are widths on offer from a narrow to a double extra-wide, and color choices in suede and full-grain leather.
Patented technology used in these shoes provides stability and motion control. The rocker bottom has a Rollbar that helps keep your heels locked down, and the Walking Strike Path stabilizes and guides your feet.
Abzorb is a proprietary material that cushions the midfoot, while a Phantom Liner enhances this and offers odor control. The thick rubber outsole has the rocker shaped heel and toe area and provides traction and shock absorption.
These shoes could qualify under the Medicare scheme for reimbursement.
It seems that changes in this version of these shoes have rendered them a little narrower than previous releases. Some also find the laces too short, so you might need to change them for longer alternatives.
- Sizes fit from narrow to xx-wide.
- Features to assist a normal gait.
- Abzorb to cushion feet.
- Footbeds with odor control.
- Fit seems narrower than in previous versions.
- Laces come up short.
|Your feet benefit from the technological features in these New Balance rocker bottom shoes, which stabilize and support as you walk. You can choose from suede or full-grain leather uppers, with sizes available for women and men. Added cushioning and odor control provide comfort and freshness.|
4. HOKA ONE ONE Arahi 4 Running Shoe
We return to Hoka for our fourth offering. Newly released in 2020, the Ahari 4 has built on previous versions of this running shoe.
It still has all the great technological features of its predecessors, with a lighter upper for more comfort.
This video details some of the benefits of this shoe.
The men’s shoes are offered in sizes 8 to 13 and the ladies in 5 to 12.
Both models are designed for support and are a suitable option for people who overpronate. You can find out more about this condition in our guide to the best shoes for overpronation.
The patent-pending J-Frame adapts to support your feet, helping correct the way you walk. It’s made of lightweight EVA incorporated into the wide soles. These features enhance stability.
The uppers are stripped back compared to earlier releases, so your shoes feel lighter on your feet. This change doesn’t compromise the structural support these uppers offer. Their design also allows feet to breathe, keeping them cool and dry.
A rocker-style sole helps ensure you run smoothly with each step. Rubber is placed in strategic places to improve durability.
These shoes might run large, so be prepared to downsize.
- Updated lightweight, breathable uppers.
- J-Frame in the wide sole for stability and support.
- Meta-rocker, durable sole.
- Good shoe for overpronators.
- Might need to downsize.
|This is the latest version of Hokas’ popular Ahari running shoe. It provides support from the rocker bottom, lightweight uppers, and J-Frame in the sole. It’s a suitable option for people who overpronate.|
5. Alegria Women’s Paloma Flats
Rocker bottom shoes are not just for running. The Paloma from Alegria offers a more feminine option for those ladies wanting something a bit more stylish than a sneaker.
Other options include snake prints, hearts, flowers, and a myriad of mixed rainbow colors.
Both linings and uppers are leather, which allows your feet to breathe, helping keep them fresh and dry. Sizes range from a 5 to 14, with regular and wide fittings. The hook and loop fastening lets you adjust them for a perfect fit.
Removable memory foam, polyurethane and cork mold to the natural contour of your feet for comfort and support. The rocker-style sole with 1.5-inch heel helps ease of movement when walking.
Approved by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), these shoes have a wide toe-box and slip-resistant rubber sole.
Some find these shoes narrow, so you might need to order a wide width, or size up to compensate. It also seems they have a tendency to squeak when you are walking.
This manufacturer’s video highlights some of the features of these shoes.
- Extensive color range.
- Leather lining and upper.
- Removable footbed.
- Rocker style bottom.
- Could run small.
- Some may experience a squeak when walking.
|When you want something both practical and pretty, these could be your shoes of choice. There is a vast range of colors for every occasion in the breathable leather uppers. The rocker-style sole gives stability, while a cushioned insole provides comfort.|
6. MBT Sport3 Walking Shoe
MBT is another relatively new kid on the block, entering the market about 20 years ago. They design their shoes with a rocker bottom that imitates walking on an uneven, soft surface, like sand.
It has a central Pivot Axis, which promotes a rolling movement with each step.
You can find out more about the company’s ethos and their shoes in this video.
In shades of grey, black and white, the men’s sizes are from 5 to 13.5, and the ladies, 4 to 12.5. The heel is approximately 1.5-inches and the rocker platform 1-inch.
The uppers are made from synthetic leather and mesh, and there is a removable mesh footbed. MBT’s sensor technology is built-in to the heels and midfoot. This helps you maintain balance, as well as absorbing impact.
A patented rocker bottom helps with stability when walking or standing. Their rolled shape at the toes and heels encourages an easy strike with every step. The soles are made from non-marking rubber, which is abrasion-resistant.
Many find these shoes fit quite wide, which could be an issue if you have narrow feet.
- Patented rocker bottom.
- Sensor points in heels and midfoot.
- Central pivot axis.
- Non-marking sole.
- Could be too wide for some feet.
|MTB shoes are designed to make you feel like you are walking on uneven surfaces to help with balance and muscle tone. The pivot axis is centrally located, and they have a rocker bottom with sensor pads in the heel and midfoot.|
What are Rocker Bottom Shoes?
Rocker bottom shoes feature a sole, which is thicker than normal, and rounded toes and heels. Their motion when walking mimics that of a rocking chair base and is said to simulate walking on soft sand or moss.
They have received a lot of press hype over recent years, some good and some bad. The brainchild of a Swiss engineer, Karl Muller, the original brand MTB (Masai Barefoot Technology), was quickly picked up by other sports companies. Skechers Shape-Ups and Reebok’s EasyTone soon jumped on the bandwagon.
There have been many claims made about rocker-bottom soles. Among them they are purported to:
- Improve balance.
- Enhance muscle tone and strength.
- Burn calories.
- Encourage better circulation and posture.
They essentially work by changing the external forces on the way you walk. By throwing out the balance factor, you are pushed to use muscles to compensate for the instability.
This style of shoe is also favored by people with diabetes as they can take the pressure off the forefeet and heels. The downside of this is the imbalance they create could lead to falls.
Many studies have been carried out on this style of shoes with conflicting results. Some find they offer no more muscle toning than other shoes; neither do they help with lower back pain.
Other studies have found they can help with osteoarthritis in the feet, metatarsalgia, and Achilles tendonitis.
It’s generally agreed that a lot more research is required to assess the overall health benefits this type of shoe might offer.All that being said, many people find these shoes extremely comfortable. They are a popular choice for sports, or work that involves being your feet a lot. It seems they help a lot of people to exercise when they might not otherwise.
Types of Rocker Bottom Shoes
Rocker sole shoes typically come in two different types. Those with a rocker just behind the toe area and those with a rocker placed centrally in the shoe.
The New Balance 928 is a good example of a shoe with the rocker at the end of the ball of the foot. It curves up in the toe area and might help reduce pressure on the ball of the foot or in the toe joints.
The Hoka One One brand is a heel to toe rocker base with the thickest part of the sole located in the midfoot. It could help limit movement in the ankle and midfoot. This type of sole could also reduce force from the action of your heel striking the floor.
What to Consider When Buying Rocker Bottom Shoes
Here are some of the factors to take into account when buying rocker bottom shoes.
Your Foot Type
Think about whether you need a particular type of rocker motion for any foot or ankle conditions you might have. It may be your feet are normal, and you just want the added comfort and motion a rocker bottom can offer.
The various parts of the soles on a rocker bottom shoe can contribute to their stability. Look for a smooth curve from the heel through to the toe; this might help your natural gait. Check out the thickness of the sole as well; this will help with shock absorption.
You will want solid traction in the outer soles of your shoes. Look for those made of rubber with a varied tread pattern. Rubber is also durable, so your soles will hopefully last longer.
You might notice the different layers in the soles of rocker bottom shoes. A midsole constructed from EVA or polyurethane will help with cushioning. You won’t expect the midsole to be too flexible, as this could affect the stability of the shoes.
Some rocker bottom shoes will have an insole constructed from memory foam, cork, or EVA. They might be designed to mold to the contour of your feet for added comfort. If you need to wear custom orthotics, then look for shoes with removable insoles.
You will want the uppers to support your feet while allowing them to breathe. Aim for materials like mesh, leather, canvas, or a combination of all three. These can help moisture from your feet escape and keep them fresh and dry.
To keep your feet locked down in your shoes, you will need a reliable lacing system or Velcro-style closure. The fit should be snug without feeling too tight.
Shoes without seams from stitching can help reduce friction and help prevent blisters or pressure points. This can be particularly useful for people with diabetes who are more vulnerable to a foot injury.
Added cushioning on the tongue or collar of shoes can help with the comfort factor. It can also make sure your ankles remain stable when you walk or run.
There is little doubt your rocker bottom shoes will be seen. While some liken them to Frankenstein’s shoes, they don’t have to be that way. Here are many trendy designs available to match your exercise gear, office wear, or casual clothing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Rocker Bottom Shoes Good for Your Feet?
We’ve already looked at some of the trains of thought around this issue. Some studies show they can help alleviate the pain associated with some foot conditions. Then there are the opposing opinions, that they are no different from any other type of shoe.
Are they bad for your feet? It comes down to what you find comfortable. We aren’t all made the same, and as with anything, not one size fits all.
What Do Rocker Bottom Shoes Do?
The advertising claims tell us that rocker bottom shoes can improve balance, muscle strength, circulation, and posture. They apparently also maximize calorie burn when exercising, and reduce joint impact.
These benefits are attributed to the instability that the design of the shoes creates. When you walk in these shoes, your lower leg and foot rocks forward as you strike the ground from heel to toe. Muscles that you might not use come into play to keep you balanced.
Many studies have been carried out, some that back up the benefits, and some that refute them. That being said, there is evidence that they could help with a number of foot and lower limb issues.
It’s suggested that people could wear rocker bottom shoes for arthritis of the knee, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, and metatarsalgia.
This video shows you how rocker bottom shoes can help with foot pain.
What Shoes Have Rocker Soles?
You can identify rocker bottom shoes by looking at their construction. They will generally have a thick sole, which will be rigid in the midfoot area and have a curved, rounded toe, heel, or both.
Following the hype in the early 2000s surrounding these shoes, there are now many models available. You will find rocker bottoms in many types, from sneakers to formal wear to sandals. All the shoes we have reviewed have rocker soles.
Time to Rock Out
Whether you believe the hype or not, there is a massive market for the best rocker bottom shoes. They are a favorite with many for the comfort and pain relief they might provide. Some even find it makes it easier for them to walk or run.
The only way to find out if these shoes are for you is to try them. Any of the models we have reviewed would be a good choice.
We hope you enjoyed our guide and found it useful. Please leave us a comment with your own experiences of rocker bottom shoes, and please share.