There may not be a perfect running shoe, however, there are certain design characteristics that can help determine whether a shoe is more suitable for a runner. On top of that, how comfortable shoe is can be quite subjective and yet it is one of the more important aspects to consider with shoe selection. After all, the best and newest in shoe technology will unlikely help if the shoe is causing discomfort or is not the correct fit.
Before we discuss the heel-toe offset of the shoes, let us consider the stack heights. The stack height is the distance between the ground and the foot. The two stack heights are measured at the heel and forefoot. Lower stack heights translate to thinner midsoles and are typically lighter. Higher stack heights have thicker or more cushioned midsoles and are also generally heavier.
The heel-toe offset is the difference between the heel stack height and the forefoot stack height. It will determine the height difference from the front and back position of the foot within the shoe. A larger heel-toe offset creates a more forward angle or plantar-flexed foot position while a low heel-toe offset creates a flatter foot angle. Generally, high heel-toe offsets are suited to heel strikers since it typically has a high rear stack height for shock absorption. Low heel-toe offsets are catered to forefoot strikers since the loading of the foot does not require the extra heel cushioning and allows for a more natural loading pattern and movement. Heel-toe offset can vary between roughly 0-16mm. The extreme ends of the range will be more suited to the described above and mid-foot strikers may fall in the middle range. Trying shoes with varying heel-toe offsets should be another consideration when selecting running shoes to see which one feels more comfortable for you.