Ahhh…there’s nothing like the feeling of a first run in new shoes. I recently bought new running shoes and this time the feeling was different. I have forever run in major stability shoes. After a lengthy conversation at the running store, I decided to switch to a lower drop Saucony Omni 11. During the conversation about the benefits of a lower drop shoe all I could think about was how this seemed to go against everything I was ever told about running. After an injury I inevitably heard from seasoned runners, sports medicine doctors and running coaches, “are you running in the right shoes?” and “you need more stability.”
How was my first run? When I finally relaxed and stopped focusing on what I was expecting to feel I realized I felt wonderful. I felt like the run was less taxing on my legs and each step took less energy, was smoother and felt less clunky.
So, what does low drop mean? I wasn’t totally clear but was determined to find out.
Low drop (or minimalist) shoes have less cushioning and are lower to the ground than traditional shoes, have less stride-controlling structure and have a lower heel-to-toe ramp angle, or a more gradual drop from where the heel and forefoot sit, allowing the foot to sit almost level in the shoe. The less the shoe interferes with the foot’s natural mechanisms the more the foot will soilidify and the greater it will perform to the forces of impact brought on by running dynamics (The Run Clinic).
According to Saucony:
We’ve introduced Support Frame for overall support and stability in the heel, and the heel-to-toe offset has been adjusted from 12mm to 8mm to promote a more balanced, efficient stride throughout the gait cycle.
A higher drop shoe is 10mm+ compared to 0-8mm of a lower drop shoe. So, what are the benefits of a 0-8mm heel to toe drop?
- A more efficient stride resulting from dramatically increased sensory information received by your feet.
- Promotes a transition to a mid- or forefoot landing pattern and away from painful heel striking.
- Wearing less on your feet can strengthen the muscles and support you better as you run. The body automatically adapts and gets stronger (i.e. core, leg, ankle and foot).
- A shorter running stride typically develops which can lessen impact forces.
Books and research suggest that by helping you mimic the stride of a barefoot runner (i.e. gently landing on your mid or forefoot) minimally padded shoes may make you faster, more efficient, improved form and reduce the risk of injury. With claims like that a low drop shoe is worth trying right?
Have you ever run in or considered trying a minimalist running shoe? I would love to know your thoughts and experiences.