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Q&A with Coach: What heel-toe drop is best in my running shoes?

Most runners are obsessed with shoes. And I don’t blame them – even my daughter Reagan is appalled at my running shoe collection.

I know, I know – I have a problem.

And ever since Born to Run, more runners have experimented with barefoot running, minimalism, and low-drop running shoes.

Overall, this is great. Wearing less shoe can help reinforce more efficient running form. Rotating through a few pairs of different shoes can also help prevent running injuries.

Much to the benefit of podiatrists everywhere, the minimalism trend also led to a host of injuries:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Stress fractures in the feet and shins

In their exuberance for running more “naturally,” runners forgot to transition gradually. After a lifetime of restrictive, heavy, supportive shoes, these runners were simply not ready to run in FiveFingers, zero-drop shoes, or barefoot.

This pattern is a classic case of doing too much mileage, in too little shoe, too soon.

Instead, it’s far more beneficial to look at running shoes as training tools that help you accomplish a specific goal.

Q&A with Coach #29: How to Choose Your Ideal Heel-Toe Drop

In our latest episode, I go deeper into how to determine what heel-toe drop is best for you.

I also talk more about the idea that shoes are “training tools” – and how you can use this idea to your benefit in your training.

Show Notes:

0:30 – Question from David: I have 0mm and 4mm drop shoes that I rotate – are these too low?
0:40 – Heel-toe drop explained
1:55 – Considerations for low drop shoes
2:50 – What happens when you wear zero drop shoes?
3:20 – How to rotate shoes for injury prevention
3:55 – Why wear low drop shoes at all?
5:00 – How to wear shoes strategically

Ultimately, each runner needs to find the pair of shoes that works best for them. There is no one-size-fits-all approach since we’re all individuals.

Our unique anatomy, mechanics, and preferences mean that we’ll favor different shoes. What works for you might not work for another runner.

That’s why I try not to recommend types or brands of shoes. You need to test as many shoes as possible to learn what style works best for you in different circumstances.

You might find that a light, low-drop shoe works great for easy runs but you need a more substantial, supportive shoe for long runs.

Test. Experiment. Buy shoes that you think you might not like just to see how they feel.

That’s the only way to find out more about yourself as a runner and to put shoes on your feet that you truly love.

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