Cleats are an important part of many sports. They allow players to keep up with the competition by offering added traction for improved speed and agility. Unfortunately, there aren’t many cleats that offer the foot health essentials: lightweight, flexible sole and a toe box widest at the ends of the toes. The usual cleat design – heavy, rigid with a very narrow toe box – often leads to ingrown toenails and other foot problems. In the hope of combatting these health issues, we searched for cleats that could accommodate Correct Toes. We quickly realized the options were slim, proving there’s a long way to go.
The best cleat options for baseball is the New Balance Minimus. Much like their New Balance Minimus running shoes, the cleats have a 4mm drop, natural foot flexibility, lightweight design and slightly roomier toe box. Although this cleat may have a toe-box that is wider than most, it’s not wide enough to accommodate Correct Toes. The New Balance Minimus was the best option we could find, however, they are far from perfect.
From the baseball diamond to the golf course, the True Links True Game Changer Pro is one of, if not, the best golf cleat around. It has all the essentials: zero drop, a toe box that is widest at the ends of the toes and lightweight with a thin and flexible sole. It is unrivaled, giving golfers a competitive advantage on the course and in their foot health. Traditional golf cleats don’t consider comfort like the True Game Changer. Vivobarefoot also has a golf shoe that was designed with natural foot movement in mind. The Linx is a men’s and women’s golf shoe made to the same standards as all their shoes: anatomically foot-shaped, light, with a flexible sole. Golf cleats offered the best options in terms of health and on-field performance.
Cross Country can sometimes be overlooked in terms of cleats or spikes, but a well-performing spike can be the difference between first and second place. Queue the Altra Golden Spike, the newest shoe to the Altra Running line. Like other great Altra shoes, the Golden Spike has their basic lightweight, flexible, wide toe-box design with extra traction from the spikes. A 5-pin spike plate lets you experience optimal grip on the course without giving up natural foot movement and feel.
Our research didn’t bode so well for cleats in soccer or football. However, one of our honorable mentions is the New Balance Furon soccer cleat. They are lightweight and have a better range of natural foot motion. They do offer a wider fitting option, but it isn’t applied at the ends of the toes as we would want. Depending on your position, soccer cleats may also be used in football. This makes the Furon a decent option for both sports.
A tip that could offer better comfort and fit is going for leather cleats rather than synthetic. Leather uppers mold and stretch to the shape of the wearer’s feet over time, while cleats made with synthetic uppers retain their shape and tight fit. Also in our search we came across a website, CustomCleats.com which makes the claim that they are able to make any footwear into well-performing cleats. This is done by taking an existing shoe and attaching cleats directly to the bottom of the sole. Check out their website for more information on the company, but stay tuned as we will look to test their services.
As we mentioned earlier, many of these options are missing the mark of truly healthy footwear, but progress is being made. We hope the natural, healthy foot movement continues to spark ideas for better performing cleats across all sports. If there are any cleats you believe should make the cut, please let us know! Tag us and use the hashtag #BetterCleats to keep the conversation going.