Zero Drop Shoes: Worth it Or Not?

If you've ever done any running or walking, you probably noticed that the shoes your feet were in made a big difference in how it felt. If you're like most people, when you started working out, you probably had a pair of sneakers with lots of cushioning and a thick sole. 

But as you got more serious about your workout routine and started to notice how much better you felt after running or walking for an hour (or even 20 minutes!), you might have thought about buying some different shoes.

The truth is that many people think that all running and walking shoes are the same—but they're not. Different types of footwear can make a big difference in how comfortable your experience is when doing physical activity.

While most people think of their shoes as an accessory that only matters when it's time to look cute, the truth is that what you choose to put on your feet can actually make a huge difference in how your foot feels at the end of the day. 

If you've got a pair of zero-drop shoes, you may be surprised at how much better they feel on your feet than traditional shoes. They're often used by people who want to reduce the strain on their ankles and knees or want to improve how they run when they're already healthy. But are they actually good for you?

What is a zero-drop shoe?

A zero drop shoe is a shoe that has an even heel-to-toe height, meaning that the heel and the toe of the shoe are at the same level. This differs from traditional running shoes, which have a higher heel than the toe and can cause discomfort to those who run in them.

Zero drop shoes were designed specifically for runners to help improve their performance. The idea behind this is that by having your foot land evenly on both sides of the shoe, you reduce the impact on each step you take, making it easier for you to run farther without experiencing pain or discomfort.

Zero-Drop vs. Regular Running Shoes

Birkenstock Women's Arizona Birko-Flor White

Birkenstock Arizona Women's Sandals

Running shoes are often categorized by their "drop," which is the difference between the heel height and the forefoot height. The higher the drop, the more likely a shoe is to have a heel significantly higher than its forefoot, which can put extra pressure on your foot while you run. 

Most running shoes have a heel that is higher than the toes. This causes your body to have to compensate for this imbalance when you run, which can lead to an increased risk of injury. 

On the other hand, zero-drop shoes offer zero difference between heel height and forefoot height. This means that they're designed to support your foot in a way that doesn't put extra pressure on your ankle or knee joints. They also offer better stability than regular running shoes, which means they're less likely to slip or slide around when you're running on different terrains like sand or mud.

Many people think that zero-drop shoes are weird-looking or uncomfortable, but they aren't! They're actually quite comfortable once you break them in—and they'll be much more comfortable than any other shoe you've worn before.

The benefits of zero-drop shoes

Promotes natural feel

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Birkenstock Men's Arizona Birko Flor Sandal

Zero drop shoes are a great option for people with plantar fasciitis or other foot injuries. Their construction is similar to that of a moccasin, and they offer support for your arches and heel. In addition, zero-drop shoes are designed with a wide toe box, so you don't feel like your toes are being squeezed together when wearing them.

Better posture

Zero drop shoes are a great option for anyone who wants to improve their posture and prevent back pain. Since they don't force your body into an unnatural position while walking, they allow your feet to easily form the correct shape when standing or sitting upright. This improves circulation throughout the body and lessens stress on joints like ankles and knees while promoting good posture overall.

Improved balance and stability

The human body has evolved over millennia to be comfortable in a certain position, which means that our feet are tilted slightly inward. This is why we tend to stagger when we walk or why we experience back pain from sitting at a desk for too long.

Zero drop shoes take this into account by making sure that the heel and forefoot are on level ground, so your body is prepared for whatever activity you're doing (walking, running, hiking). The result is that your body is more balanced and stable overall—which makes it easier to do the things you love!

Enhanced running gait

If you're a runner, switching to zero-drop shoes could be a game-changer for your running gait. Zero drop shoes are designed to mimic the natural shape of your foot, so you get more support and comfort as you run. By putting your foot directly under your center of gravity while running, you're able to engage more muscle groups in each stride and maintain better posture throughout the exercise.

Lighter than traditional shoes

Zero-drop shoes are lighter than conventional shoes because they have a lower heel-to-toe drop, which is the height difference between the heel's back and the front of the toes. A zero-drop shoe has no difference in height, while a one-inch drop shoe has a one-inch difference between its highest and lowest points.

They are also lighter because they have a thinner sole and fit closer to your foot, which means less material is needed to create them. This creates less bulk and weight overall, making them easier to carry around.

Promotes stronger feet

When you wear shoes with arch support, your feet don't have to work as hard. They can take advantage of the artificial help provided by the shoes, and as a result, they never get the chance to get strong.

Many people experience foot problems like plantar fasciitis and other issues later in life, even if they've been wearing supportive shoes for years. The lack of activity causes muscles in their feet to weaken, making them more prone to injury and pain when they try new activities or are on their feet for long periods.

Zero-drop shoes put you in control of your own foot strength. By not giving your feet any extra help, these shoes force you to work harder for every step you take—and that's why many people find them more comfortable than traditional athletic footwear.

Reduces risk of injuries

Zero-drop shoes have several benefits, the most notable being the reduction of injuries. Decreasing the distance between your foot and the ground encourages a more natural running form that can help prevent common injuries like shin splints or Achilles tendonitis. 

They also help you avoid overpronation, which is when your foot rolls inward while you run and can cause pain in your ankle joint.

The drawbacks of zero-drop shoes

Pressure on your calves

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Birkenstock Gizeh Women's Sandals

The biggest disadvantage of zero-drop shoes is that they can put a lot of pressure on your calf muscles. If you have weak or injured calves, this can be especially problematic. If you're not used to running in this type of shoe, you may develop muscle soreness or even cramping when wearing them. This can make it difficult for you to train and compete without pain.

Lack of support

Zero-drop shoes are designed to be as close to barefoot as possible, which means that they lack a thick sole. Because of this, they don't offer much support for your feet running through rough terrain. In fact, the lack of support can cause pain and discomfort for your foot, especially if you have thin soles.

The thin sole also means that zero-drop shoes are not very good at cushioning impact from hard surfaces like concrete or asphalt. This can lead to injuries such as shin splints or plantar fasciitis (pain in your heels).

Transitioning to a Zero-Drop Shoes

Transitioning to zero-drop shoes is a process that takes time and patience. The transition process will vary from person to person, but here are some helpful tips:

Take it slow 

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Birkenstock Women's Gizeh Braid Sandal

If you're new to zero-drop shoes, it can be helpful to start small. Start with a short walk around the block. Once you've gotten used to the feeling of walking in these new shoes, try a longer walk around your neighborhood or your workplace if you're already at work. 

After a few days, try going for a long walk outside with them. Your feet will get used to walking without the support and without heel-striking, so don't worry if it feels strange at first!

Once you feel like you've mastered walking in zero-drop shoes, start trying other activities requiring more movement from your feet. For example, go for a run outside or play some pickup basketball with friends. 

As long as there's no risk of injury involved (like doing squats), then it's okay for your feet to move freely! Be sure to keep up with stretching exercises as well—this will help prevent injuries from happening in certain activities like playing sports or running on hard surfaces like concrete sidewalks or asphalt roads.

Practice landing on the midfoot

Transitioning to zero-drop shoes will take some time as your body adjusts to landing on the midfoot. To help with this transition, it's important to practice landing on the midfoot when you are running in zero-drop shoes.

The key here is that you're landing in a very specific way: You should be landing with your heel and toe both touching the ground at once. This will help you get used to evenly distributing your weight between those two points.

If you're having trouble with this, try running in place for a few minutes until your foot and leg muscles are warmed up. Then take off your shoes and stand on one leg. Lift up that foot as high as it can without falling over—that's how high your heel should go when you run! Once you've got that down, start running in place again and focus on keeping your lifted foot at the same height as before. When you're ready, put on a pair of zero-drop shoes and repeat.

Start with a shorter distance and slowly increase.

Increasing your distance slowly will prevent you from getting injured and allow you to adjust to the new way of walking.

This means that if you're used to running 10 miles a week, don't start with 15 miles when you get your new shoes. Instead, start with 8 miles and build up from there. Also, try not to go on long runs immediately—this can be hard on your body and cause injury. Instead, start jogging or walking and gradually increase the duration of those workouts as well as their intensity.

The most important thing is to listen to your body: if it hurts during this adjustment period, back off and rest for a few days before trying again!

The Final Verdict on Zero Drop Shoes

Overall, zero-drop shoes are a great choice for people looking for a more natural-feeling and healthy way to walk. They're also very comfortable and offer a lot of freedom in terms of your ability to walk around without feeling like you're wearing a pair of clunky boots.

If you're a runner who's used to running in shoes with a heel and you're trying to make the switch to zero-drop shoes, it's going to take some getting used to. You'll have to relearn how your body moves, and you might even get a few blisters along the way.
But if you do manage to fully transition over to running in zero-drop shoes, it'll be well worth it. You'll feel like a whole new person when you run in them—your form will improve, your joints will feel better than ever before, and you might even be able to run farther than ever before!

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