What Does Running Shoe Drop Mean?- A Guide To Buying Running Shoes

A running shoe drop is the height difference between a heel and the forefoot. If the drop is more significant, then the angle between the heel and forefoot will be steeper. It is essential to know about a heel drop because putting on a shoe that is not adapted to your natural stride may increase the risk of injuries. A drop should be suited to your natural stride to avoid making you adjust to a different stride which will suddenly and abnormally increase stress on the muscles and tendons. You will experience unusual aches and pains that may develop into tendonitis and periostitis injury when this happens.

In the past, many running shoes were manufactured with a 10mm drop, but now most running footwear may range from zero drops to a 12 mm drop. This drop refers to the thickness difference between your shoe’s front and back. Therefore, you should never assume that thick shoes with heavily cushioned midsoles will have a high drop.

Is A Running Shoe Drop Important?

Is A Running Shoe Drop Important

Before buying a running shoe, you should know that there is no perfect or ideal drop. A shoe with a drop of 10mm will offer a lot of cushioning in the heel and promote landing first on your heel as your feet move through their motion. In contrast, a zero-drop shoe means that the amount of cushioning under your heels and toes is equal. If the drop is low, your shoe will help promote a midfoot strike which most people consider to have a lower impact stride than a heel strike. If the drop is lower, your Achilles tendon will have to work more.

How To Choose The Best Amount Of Drop

There isn’t any magical amount of heel-to-toe drop that suits everyone. Nonetheless, some guidelines might help guide you towards getting the best level of drop. When buying your first running shoe, a heel-to-toe drop may not be such a significant factor. Instead, you may want to focus more on comfort. You can start thinking about heel-to-toe drop when replacing your shoes or broadening your running shoe closet.

If you have an issue with your Achilles tendon, land on your heels first, or prefer wearing shoes with an elevated heel, you may want to buy a running shoe with a high heel-to-toe drop of over 7mm. A runner who lands on the middle or front of their foot should consider buying shoes with a low heel-toe drop of 0 to 6 mm.

Which Is Better, Between A High Or Low Heel-Toe Drop?

According to some runners, lower heel-toe drop puts the foot in a better and more natural position. If you hit the ground first with your middle or front of the foot, you may not need a high drop since the extra cushioning will not add value and may get in your way. Therefore, runners who hit the ground first with the middle or front of the foot often prefer shoes with a lower drop.

But most people hit the ground with their heel first, and therefore wearing shoes with additional cushioning may help absorb more impact after landing. Therefore, such runners may want to buy high drop shoes. The question remains, which type of shoe is better than the other? The best shoe depends on the wearer’s preference. There is no conclusive scientific evidence on which one is better regarding benefits or issues concerning certain drops. Therefore, at this point, you may want to choose a shoe by drop based on your personal preference and what you like.

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A New Shoe And Deciding On The Heel To Toe Drop

Factors To Consider When Purchasing A New Shoe And Deciding On The Heel To Toe Drop


If you buy a shoe with a new heel drop, you might feel odd at first and need some time to get used to it. This is common when going for a lower or zero heel drop. If you have never bought a shoe with zero drops, you may feel like it is a negative drop, although the shoe should fit comfortably in the long run.


A runner needs to know their strike. You must also know that shoes with a higher heel drop will allow for a better heel strike and lower heel drop shoes tend to push your feet forward when running and allow for a forefoot and midfoot strike. If you consider your heel stack and your current running form, this may not be the rule.


The heel drop determines the parts of your legs that will absorb the impact and loading. Your heel drop should reduce the load in any injured body part.


Our bodies adapt based on the information about how we feel when our feet hit the ground. When running on trails, this information helps us optimize our stride and adjust to any changing terrain by gently absorbing that impact. This helps to increase our proprioceptive awareness. If you want this to happen more efficiently, you should choose a shoe with a lower heel drop for running on trails.

Heel Drop Change

If the heel drop change is significant (over 4mm), you may want to consider the period to adapt. This is necessary when going for a low drop or zero drops. You may want to stick to your heel drop if it works well for you, but if you need to alternate between different heel drops, you can do so as this will help strengthen your foot and leg muscles.


When a runner is tired, they change their foot strike. When running on trails, you may notice this change as the legs get tired. The Achilles get tired, and we stop pushing up on the forefoot. Therefore, if you choose a new heel drop for the long-distance runs, you may want to keep this in mind.


Although shoe drop may not matter when buying your first pair of running shoes, you may want to consider it when switching your style of shoes and be sure to ease into it. If you do too much quite soon, you may risk getting injured.

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