Running shoes: heel to toe drop

The importance of running shoes is increased over the past several years. Especially the materials and heel to toe drop place an important role in the industry. Without taking a bigger stance on it, will you benefit more from some shoe than others? Let’s consider what you need to know about heel drop, when you go shoe shopping.

What is heel drop?

Heel drop or shoe drop is the height difference between the heel and the forefoot. There are four categorize; zero drop (0mm), low drop (1-4mm), mid drop (5-8mm) and high drop (8+mm). Stack height (cushioning) is the material amount between the feet and the ground. For example, there can be zero drop shoes with 4mm stack height.

What are the differences and how to choose the right one?

There are several differences between the high and low heel drop.

Low drop shoes; improve cadence, promote midfoot and forefoot strike, might work for people with ITB, knee pain (anterior), and those who glutes are overactive, allow more ankle flexion. But great greater stress on lower leg and can cause overstriding rearfoot strike.

High drop shoes; foot switch is slower, allow rearfoot strike, might help with plantar fasciitis, stiff Achilles and calf injuries, more knee flexion leading to more load hips and knees, can prevent overstriding forefoot strike.

When choosing the shoes and heel drop, take into account, comfort, foot strike pattern, injuries, terrain and distance. Shoes should always be comfortable to use. Zero and low drop shoes often feel odd at the first, and if the heel drop difference change is big adaptation time is needed. Know your foot strike and injury background, sometimes heel drop changes can lead to injuries or foot strike changes, which can lead to injuries.

Distance also has a huge effect, as the foot strike changes when fatigue appears. Many trail shoes have a lower drop, which gives feet opportunity the to get information about the ground and adapt footstrike to it.

Zero and low drop shoes don’t always mean light shoes, a lot depends on the stack height. People who prefer more low or zero drops, but want shoes that provide damping can choose higher stack height. Whereas, people who prefer high drop, but want light shoes, can choose lower stack height.


Most of the standard shoes have a 10 mm heel drop. But there are no right or wrong shoes. You should always consider running, background, injuries, foot strike, distance and what you want for the shoes. It’s not ideal to take high brand shoes, that elite uses if it’s not suitable for your running styles and training. If you are still unsure, go to a shoe shop, where they can check your running and discuss your needs.

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