Hoka Hurt My Feet: 5 Possible Reasons

As a runner, I have always thought that Hoka running shoes are the best thing since sliced bread. I ran my first full marathon in Hokas and felt like I could run forever. My feet were not sore, and I had little to no fatigue. 

Still, I have also had some bad experiences with some Hokas. They have left my feet hurting so bad that it almost felt like I was running barefoot. At first, I thought it was a temporary thing or had an injury. However, things got worse until I could not wear that particular pair of Hoka. At this point, it should be obvious that I love Hokas. I was devastated when I could not wear them and had to find out why my feet hurt.

After doing research, I concluded that the main reason was too much cushioning. And, of course, I was wearing the wrong size. The other reasons mostly concerned my running style and a previous injury on my big toe.

If you are a Hoka fanatic like me and experiencing pain when wearing your pair, this article is for you. I will explain the possible reasons your feet hurt and show you how to find the best Hokas for you. Let’s jump straight in!

Common Causes of Hoka’s Hurt Feet

If your feet hurt when you wear Hoka shoes, there are countless reasons for this. While the reasons will vary from one situation to the other, here are some of the  most common ones:

1. Wrong size 

Like any other shoe, a Hoka that does not fit well can cause foot pain. Running shoes should fit snugly but still be comfortable. They should leave enough room for the toes to wiggle. A Hoka that is too tight will cause pain and lead to blistering. If the fit is too loose, your feet will keep sliding around, leading to discomfort and pain.

The best way to properly size your Hokas is by trying them out later in the evening. At this time, your feet will be at their widest. Also, wear the same socks type you wear when running. And if you find yourself in between sizes, always size up.

It is also important to ensure you get enough transition time. Remember that Hokas have thick, highly cushioned soles. Going straight from a regular thinner-sole shoe to Hoka can easily overload the feet. Here are some tips for a slow and comfortable transition.

  • Start by wearing the Hokas for short walks and runs.
  • Wear the Hokas with your regular running shoes from the onset.
  • Take breaks between your runs, especially when your feet start getting painful.
  • Listen to your body and stop wearing the Hokas if the pain persists.

2. Too much cushioning 

Hokas are some of the most cushioned shoes on the market. The extra thick midsole and outsole can feel uncomfortably soft. They are also unstable for some runners. Runners used to more minimalist shoes need time to adapt to the cushioning.

The problem with the extra cushioning is that your feet will often sink too much into the cushion. Most runners find this uncomfortable. Their feet will also hurt when this happens. Too much cushioning can also cause instability and increased muscle fatigue. Both can cause the feet to hurt.

3. Incorrect foot strike 

Most Hoka running shoes encourage a mid-to-fore-foot strike. This means that you will land in the middle or front of the foot. Any strike other than this, such as a heel strike, will often hurt your feet when running.

If you notice you are a heel striker, you must adjust your foot strike. Doing this will ensure a proper running stance on your Hoka shoes and reduce the pain.

Tips for improving foot strike

  • Tweak your running posture as your center of gravity affects your foot strike.
  • Change your arm swing to drive more power to your legs.
  • Try to take shorter and quicker steps.
hoka shoes

4. Arch problems 

Hokas have a narrow profile and will hardly provide any midfoot support. The narrow profile can be a big problem for overpronators and runners with flat arches. It will just not provide enough stability.

If you are an overpronator, Hokas might hurt your feet. In such situations, try a different shoe model. 

It is important to note that the thick Hoka midsole can be perfect for foot issues like plantar fascitis. The thick sole provides excellent shock absorption and minimizes impact on the foot.

5. Previous injuries 

One of the main reasons why running can be painful is because of previous injuries. I have recurring big toe injury and long-term plantar fasciitis. I have had these problems for almost as long as I can remember.

Hokas will not fix any of your underlying issues. For me, the shoes make my plantar fasciitis feel worse. Some of my Hokas just don’t provide enough support. There is, however, nothing wrong with the shoe.

You must address the underlying issue first. If you have plantar fasciitis like me or Achilles tendonitis, it should be treated. Otherwise, no shoe and not just Hokas will ever feel comfortable enough.

Talk to your podiatrist before buying Hokas if you want to avoid exacerbating the issue.

Pros and Cons of Hoka Shoes


  • Maximal Cushioning: Hokas shoes are famous for their chunky midsole design. The extra-large midsole provides maximal cushion for extra comfort. The maximal cushion also provides impact protection for your feet.
  • Rocker Profile: Hoka shoes have a unique rocker bottom design. The bottom of the shoe is curved. This design helps encourage runners to maintain an efficient gait. It helps propel you forward when running. The rocker profile improves speed and running efficiency.
  • Lightweight Material: Despite their chunky look, Hokas are surprisingly lightweight. Most models typically weigh under 15 ounces. A big plus for runners who prefer shoes that will not weigh them down.
  • Sleek Design: Hokas have a unique, stylish design. They also come in a wide variety of designs and color schemes. These shoes provide both comfort and aesthetic appeal.
  • Versatility: Hoka shoes are versatile. Besides runners, they are a hit with professionals like nurses. Nurses love them as they keep their feet comfortable all day.


  • Less Ground Feel: While the extra cushioning is Hoka’s biggest advantage, it can also be its greatest con. The thicker midsole means less responsiveness or ground feel. This will greatly affect your speed. And so Hokas are not your best bet for speed workouts and runs.
  • May Feel Unstable at First: The chunky midsole and rocker profile can be unstable. They take quite some time to get used to. If you are not patient enough, you will find it hard to get used to the design.
  • Durability Issues: Hokas sacrifice durability for lightweight. The shoes use thinner and lighter materials. These materials will not withstand much abuse.
  • Pricier: Hoka is a premium brand. Their running shoes are some of the most expensive in the market.
hoka shoes

Are Hokas Good for Running?

That largely depends on you. The maximal cushioning and rocker design can work for some runners. For others, it will not be comfortable.

Generally, Hokas work well for marathoners and ultrarunners. Their extra cushioning makes them perfect over long distances. It shields the feet from the hardness of the ground. It hence allows you to run for long periods with minimal foot fatigue.  Still, some runners will find the maximal cushioning unstable. Speedwork runners want something more responsive. Hoka’s chunky cushioning will not provide this.

Injury-prone runners can also benefit from Hokas cushioning and rocker design. The extra cushioning reduces impact force and promotes an efficient gait. These runners can run without worsening existing injuries. However, the chunky heel and stiffness of the midsole can worsen some foot issues. And this is more if you do not transition to the shoe slowly.

Hokas work for some runners and certain running disciplines. They are, however, not a universal fit for all kinds of runners.

How Long Do Hoka Shoes Last?

Hoka shoes will last for 250-500 miles. The lifespan depends on various factors, including:

  • Runners weight: Heavier runners typically get fewer miles from their shoes. And this is because their weight puts more pressure on the shoes.
  • Running terrains: Rough and unforgiving terrains will wear out your shoes quickly. Runners who use their Hokas on soft, indoor, or well-paved surfaces get more miles from their shoes.
  • Pronation: Overpronators tend to wear out the inner edges of their shoes. They do it faster than neutral runners.

Hoka’s lifespan is at par with what you get from other top models like Nike and New Balance. However, it will outlast most other cheaper brands. These other brands hardly serve you for more than 100 or 200 miles.

The best way to get maximum life from your Hokas is to have several pairs. Try to rotate your Hokas with 2 or 3 other pairs of shoes. You should, however, replace them when the cushioning feels packed down. Also, replace Hokas if your feet get sore regularly.

hoka shoes exhibition

Finding the Right Hoka for Your Feet 

Now that you know why Hokas may hurt your feet, next is finding the right Hoka shoes for you. Here are some simple tips you can follow:

  • Analyze your foot mechanics – Do this at a specialty running store. Most of these stores use technology like video analysis to test foot gait or mechanics. This way, you will better understand the shoe type that suits you. Make sure you assess your pronation needs. Also, try to identify problem areas to address.
  • Consider shoe attributes:
    • Cushioning – Hoka shoes are famous for their maximal cushioning. They, however, have 3 cushioning levels: plush, balanced, and responsive. Make sure you choose a pair that provides the right amount of cushioning for you. The choise should be easy once you understan your foot mechanics.
    • Heel-to-toe offset – Most Hoka shoes have a lower heel-to-to drop than regular running shoes. It is often between 4 and 6mm. You have to consider what will suit your running needs best.
    • Stability elements – Hoka uses stability elements like guide rails and medial posts. The right pair of shoes for you depends on the amount of stability you need. If you need something more stable, choose a model with both.
    • Weight – Hokas are generally lightweight. The weight still varies from one pair to the other. Some models weigh 10 ounces or less, while others, like Bondi SR, weigh over 14 ounces.
    • Outsole tread – There are plenty of outsole tread options to choose from with Hoka. They also have shoes with lugs in high-wear zones. Choose a tread that suits your typical running terrains.
  • Try on multiple models – This is one of the best things you can do when buying shoes. Have staff bring out 3-4 options to try based on your specific foot needs. Take them for short test runs outside if possible. If not, wear them and walk around the room for a while.
  • Don’t rush the transition – Even the most experienced runners struggle to adjust to Hokas. Their chunky midsole and rocker design are quite unique. You should, hence, break in new Hokas slowly with short runs. It is always best to allow 1-2 weeks for your feet to adapt.
  • Listen to feedback – Listening to your feet’s feedback is vital. Take note of where your new Hoka shoes rub or press into your feet. Never try to run through pain, hoping it improves. If the shoe pinches or rubs off at specific points, this is a good sign it does not suit you.
  • Consider custom orthotics – Also consider getting custom orthotics. The orthotics will support flat arches and align your biomechanics. Orthotics make you Hokas more comfortable and are a big help for some foot issues. It is even better to get custom-made ones from a podiatrist. This way you will be certain they are perfect fro your feet.
  • Strengthen your feet – You also need to work on your feet and muscles to get the best experience from Hokas. Do exercises like toe curls to build foot intrinsic muscles. Building your muscles will make your feet less painful and help prevent injury.

Hoka Model Breakdown 

Rincon – Editor’s Choice For Neutral Runners

Hoka Rincons are the perfect shoe for neutral runners. They are some of the lightest Hokas. Most models in this shoe line weigh under 10 ounces. Besides being lightweight, they have balanced cushioning. They provide protective cushioning and maintain a responsive toe-off. This design makes them perfect for runners looking for a fast and comfortable shoe. And this is more so for the daily trainers.

Clifton – Most Popular All-Around Trainer

Cliftons have balanced cushioning and neutral stability. They offer both speed and comfort, making them the perfect all-around trainer. It also has a low drop (4mm) and a lighter and highly breathable upper.

Bondi – Most Cushioned Hoka

Bondi’s are the most cushioned Hoka shoes. Their plush cushioning cuddles your feet perfectly. They make you feel like you are walking on marshmallows. The extra cushioning makes them perfect for injury-prone runners. It will provide maximum impact protection.

Arahi – Top Hoka Choice For Stability

Arahi’s are stability shoes with balanced cushioning. They are the perfect shoes for overpronators. They use a unique J-frame technology to control overpronation. The frame controls overpronation without making the shoe too stiff. Plus, it also does not add much weight to the shoe.

Speedgoat – Rugged Cushioning For Trails

If you plan to hit the outdoor trails, Hoka Speedgoat is your go-to shoe. The thick cushioning and lugged outsole ensure it can handle any off-road terrain. These are also the perfect shoes for hiking. Speedgoats also have plastic toe caps and spikes. The caps protect the toes and spikes provide traction on any trail. Plus, they have an engineered mesh upper for maximum ventilation.

Women Mach 5 Everyday Training Shoes HOKA

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I size up in Hokas? Do Hoka shoes run big?

No, you will often not need to size up because Hokas are usually true to size. Despite what they look like, most models will not run big. Their large size is mostly because of the massive midsole. It does not make the sizes big. Hokas actually have a narrow profile. Runners with wider feet than average might have to go half a size up. If you are unsure about your size, the best idea is to try out the Hokas before buying. Checking your foot gait and mechanics in a specialty running store is also a good idea. This will help ensure a perfect fit.

Can Hokas help my plantar fasciitis?

Yes, Hoka can help with plantar fasciitis. The thick, cushioned midsole and rocker design will help reduce the impact on the heel. Maximal cushioning also reduces stress on the heel and foot muscles. Plus, stability features like guide rails and medial posts provide some stability. These features are helpful for both overpronators and runners with plantar fasciitis. 

Do I need multiple pairs of Hokas?

Most runners need multiple Hokas for different running situations. However, it largely depends on your needs and preferences. For instance, you can have Hoka Cliftons for all-round training. You can then buy Speedgoats for trail and off-road running. Having multiple pairs also increases their service life. Rotating between 2 or 3 pairs ensures maximum service life from each shoe. Plus, Hokas are very fashionable. Owning several pairs for different occasions does not hurt.


Hokas are some of the most comfortable shoes on the market. Their thick cushioning cuddles your feet nicely. It can feel like you are walking on clouds. Sometimes things are not always that cozy. Hokas can also hurt your feet.

In many cases, it is because the size, arch problems, or incorrect foot strike are wrong. The good news is that the problem is easy to fix. And the best way to do it is by choosing your size keenly. Correcting your foot strike also helps a lot. And make sure you break in and transition to the shoes gradually so you do not overload the feet.

Ultimately, the best thing you can do is to try out Hokas before buying them. This way, you can be sure they will be comfortable enough and they will not hurt your feet.

Please share your experiences with Hoka shoes in the comments section below. I will also be happy to answer any additional questions about these amazing shoes.

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