LOLZLetter Edition 7 | Does Drop Matter?

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So On to Content:

The drop of a shoe seems to be buzzworthy in the running shoe world these days, or at least on the internet. It isn’t as much in run specialty.

Since about the 70s and the running boom, shoes were created with more cushion in the heel. For years, no one questioned it.

Then with the book “Born to Run,” many people thought a minimalist or zero drop shoe was the best way to run. 

In the book, Born to Run, there is a strong argument for lower drop shoes and the more minimal the better.  Like many fads, people buy into them thinking it's "the best for everyone". Nothing in the running world (and life) works for everyone.

So What Does a “Heel to Toe Drop” (HTT) Mean?

The heel to toe drop is the difference between the height of the shoe in the heel and the forefront.

In a shoe with a 12-millimeter heel to toe drop, the heel sits 12 millimeters higher than your forefoot.

What most people don’t realize is that the HTT and Stack Height of a shoe are different. The Stack Height is the distance between your foot and the ground. If you remember platform flip flops, they had stack height but were flat and almost “zero drop.”

You might expect a brand like Hoka to have a high HTT like 12. Surprise, they are only 4-5 mm, but their stack height is much bigger.

So Does a Lower Shoe Make You Faster?

Most research points that a lower heel to toe drop, the less likely you are to heel strike.

That is true.

If there is less weight in the heel of the shoe, it’s less likely to cause you to heel strike. That being said, if you run on your toes (which I do!), you’re more likely to have metatarsal injuries.

In the past decade, the research has gone from the best way to run is X; to how you run is how you run.

Some of the fastest elite runners are heel strikers, or *gasp* even pronate.

Does Drop Keep you Less Injured?

There is no evidence that a shoe's drop keeps you healthy or even affects injury rates. If you run well in a 12 mm shoe, why change that?

There are trade-offs with both types of shoes and every type of running form.

Shoes with a higher drop reduce stress on the feet, calves, ankles, and even Achilles. The trade-off is you might be more susceptible to a knee or hip issue.

Shoes with a lower drop are the opposite. There is more pressure on the calves and feet while reducing the load on the knees.

So this Begs the Question: Should You Care?

Like anything with running, it’s a personal preference and has to do with your own gait and form.

If you are a midfoot striker and want something with less cushion in the heel, maybe looking into a lower drop shoe is for you. If you are happy and healthy in your current shoe, stay there.

How to Transition:

First, know the drop in all of your shoes. If you’re in a 10-12 mm drop, don’t go crazy and all of a sudden do all of your training in 0. You’ll hurt yourself.

Progress into an 8 mm drop shoe (most Saucony Shoes)

Then progress into a 4-5 mm drop shoe (The Saucony Freedom/Liberty, or most Hokas)

Then finally if you want a zero drop shoe look into brands like Altra or Topo (they are very few shoes that have a 2 mm drop).

This process should take you several months. As you go into a flatter shoe, your calves will be more sore and tight. 

There is no reason to switch but if you want to try, go for it.

Finally, it’s important to take time to try on various models in a store if you can. If a shoe doesn’t even feel good in the store, it won’t magically feel better when you run. Try shoes on and make sure they feel good. Plus many local running stores have a good exchange policy that you can try a shoe, and if it’s not for you, exchange it for something that is.

A lower heel to toe drop isn’t the magical way to stay injury free or get faster. It works for some people but not for everyone.

What is Keeping Me Entertained This Week:

This week I spent a good chunk of free time reading Meb’s Book 26 Marathons. I learned a lot from this book from professional racing tactics to advice anyone can use in the marathon. I learned so much about marathoning and Meb’s career, but I learned just as much about professional marathoners and their race tactics. Now I feel I can watch more pro races (because they are on TV so much), and think…oh that makes compete sense.

I’ve spent a great deal thinking about “instagram runners”. Keep in mind it’s a light post and I’m as guilty as anyone else!


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