Running in a pair of zero drop shoes doesn’t mean you’re running all but barefoot down a hot pavement road on race day. It doesn’t even make you a minimalist runner. Going for a run in a zero drop shoe simply means your shoes are flat or level from the back to the front and your foot is parallel to the ground when standing still.
Running shoes have typically been built with more cushioning under the heel than the forefoot. The height difference between the shoe’s raised heel and lower toe is measured in millimeters (mm) and called the ‘drop’. This measurement can very from 0mm to 15mm depending on the shoe but as the barefoot, minimalist and natural running movements have gained momentum, shoes with massive drops are starting to disappear.
Why? Many recent scientific reports have found that running miles and miles with our heels dramatically higher than our toes can lead to big time injuries by creating additional heel strike forces, heavier landings and excessive foot movement. Ever tried running in high heels? Putting the foot in an unnatural position for the task you’re asking it to do is begging for trouble. Running and biomechanical expert Jay DiCharry believes that running in a flatter shoe is ideal because it lets the body stay in a natural position without having to compensate for how the shoe might try to make the foot move.
Switching to zero drop shoes can decrease the landing forces on your hips, knees and ankles and worked in with stretching can make you less susceptible to injury. Sounds great, right? Be careful. Transitioning to a pair of zero drop shoes isn’t as easy as picking them up at the store. If you’re currently in a shoe with a big drop, start making the change to a flatter shoe by decreasing your drop by only a few millimeters. Trade your 12mm drop shoes for an 8mm pair and give your body time to adjust to a possibly new movement pattern and different stride rate.
The transition period should be 6-8 weeks and build by only a few miles each one. Decrease the drop in your shoes with each pair you buy until you hit zero, giving yourself plenty of miles to acclimate every time. With thousands to choose from, it’s easy to find the lower or zero drop shoes that will make your body happy.