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Saucony ProGrid Phoenix 4 running shoes are designed to provide an element of stability to runners who mildly overpronate. My usual preference for road running used to be Saucony Ride, which are neutral and pared down for biomechanically efficient runners. However, this year, they didn’t serve me too well and after suffering with right hip pain after training, I investigated the possible causes. It turned out my right foot collapses – overpronates – during the stride cycle, and so I opted for Saucony Phoenix 4. The result? No more hip pain.
So there’s a general reminder for everyone: if you get any odd pains, especially in your knees or hips, during or right after your run, don’t just put it down to old age, creaky joints, wrong terrain, (insert your own here). It could be that you need to go to a specialist running store and get a gait analysis done to see how you perform during the stride.
I mentioned in my review of the Saucony Ride 2 that they felt a little cloppy and hard; certainly they were a firmer ride than the original incarnation of this model. So if you think you need a little extra comfort and bounce, then I’m glad to recommend Phoenix 4. I ran in them last night as I was itching to try them out. They are extremely comfortable, and hug the foot snugly – for some that might also translate as not having a roomy toe box. However, these shoes do not squeeze as they have a very light and flexible Airmesh upper, which is great for keeping cool on long runs, and which also allows moisture to wick away. The sales patter you might find proclaims that the uppers assist circulation, which is probably true since they are soft and supple enough to be super comfy even for fairly wide feet.
As the name suggests the Phoenix 4 running shoes continue the theme of featuring the rear foot ProGrid cushioning and stability system, but the midsoles also provide a huge amount of cushioning, which made a massive difference for me, after having used the ProGrid Ride model for so long. I have to say, I love these shoes just for the bouncy cushioning both in the heel and the forefoot. This is due to Saucony’s HRC – High Rebound Compound – which is incorporated into the HRC Stroble board, which works in unison with the ProGrid system to provide superb shock attenuation in the heel when landing, but also to offer responsive support at toe off.
That covers comfort and general aspects of cushioning, which pass with flying colors. What about stability and the control of overpronation? There is a number of features in Phoenix 4 which take care of collapsing arches during the gait cycle. First, the midsole is made from dual density compound, with higher density on the medial side (aka the inside, under the arch) to slow down and minimize the angle of overpronation. Then there is the Midfoot Support Bridge, which holds the foot in the neutral position in the middle of the gait cycle. Does the technology work? It sure does! I have seen the before and after using a treadmill and a high-speed camera, comparing Saucony Ride 3 (significant overpronation of the right foot) to Saucony Phoenix 4 (no overpronation at all).
Other features, which you’d expect to have with any new pair of running shoes, are delivered by these. They are light in weight despite the cushioning and stability technologies packed into them. They also have good flexibility and nice grippy treads via the carbon rubber outsoles. Where I run, it is nice to have that extra traction and the confidence to stride out knowing I’m not going to slip.
Conclusion: definitely worth a go if you are a mild overpronator, or just want to run in a more comfortable shoe, as they are great for many different types of runner. However, the Saucony Phoenix 4 is a 2009 release, so it might be a case of catch ’em while you can!