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Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear
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Erik G
(fox212) - F

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/06/2014 08:58:46 MST Print View

I'm in the market for some new kicks, and frankly it's not going so well...

I am wondering, what are the potential effects of wearing a shoe with too much heel-to-toe drop?

I just picked up a pair of La Sportiva Wildcats. The fit of the shoe is superb, but I think the 12mm drop may be too much for me. After going for a 3mi walk around the neighborhood, the front of my ankles was sore (right where the foot meets the ankle, on the top/front). I also feel some soreness on the top of my big toe. It feels like its tendons/ligaments that are sore rather than muscles. They were sore the next day as well, and I can still feel the pain today. This is definitely not normal for me.

For some background, I wore skateboarding shoes all the way through high school and into college, which had little to no drop and very flat soles.

Is it likely (or even possible) that the larger drop of these shoes is causing my ankle pain?

If so, any recommendations on some shoes with less drop(<6mm) and a similar fit to the Wildcats (very secure heel, wider and roomier toe box)?

Many thanks in advance for any insight.

Edited by fox212 on 01/06/2014 09:00:47 MST.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/06/2014 09:17:29 MST Print View

12 mm may sound like a huge drop to today's zero drop fanatics but it wasn't that many years ago when it was more the norm.
my preferred drop is 10-12 mm and I'm not a cripple yet after thousands of miles.

what is important is that you not try to move instantaneously from one drop level to another. the adjustment takes time.

also, there are other aspects of a shoe that can cause problems, not just drop.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/06/2014 10:06:48 MST Print View

Hard to say if drop is the culprit here or not, but it certainly seems worth considering.

A few other Sportiva shoes have less drop, but they tend to be a bit narrower in the toebox. The Inov8 Trailroc series is worth investigating.

Ash Nat
Suggestions on 01/06/2014 10:45:20 MST Print View

I've been day hiking, running etc. in 0 drop shoes for a while now. I grew up as a kid playing barefoot most of the time and shoes with drops kill me.

Anyway, what are you trying to do with these? Just run around on concrete? Trail?

I like and am using the New Balance Minimus series. They have a little cushioning, but 0 drop.

I like and am using Vibram FiveFingers. These are not just 0 drop, but also minimalist.

I have also used Merrell's M-connect series shoes and they are good too. Their new Proterra line has only 4 mm drop apparently and I'm looking at getting the Gore Tex version.

The Vivo Barefoot shoes (don't remember model) I used were minimalist and 0 drop, but I wasn't completely convinced of their durability. This was 3 or 4 years back, so things could I have changed.

All of the above provide a wide toe box.

There's a TON more options - one I'm particularly intrigued by is Lems shoes. I'm really curious about them.

Edited by Maritan on 01/06/2014 10:47:29 MST.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
zem? on 01/06/2014 12:56:06 MST Print View

Brooks has some nice graduated options (0/4/8/12) that have wider toe boxes. I wore the Cascadias for a while, nice shoe.

Altra makes very excellent wide-toebox shoes, all zero-drop. I have a pair of Superiors that are really nice.

I've never heard of the Lems, they look nice. Looks like more casual wear though?

Anyone worn Zem Gear shoes? the split-toe design is intriguing.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/06/2014 13:45:15 MST Print View

Heel-toe drop isn't going to cause a lot of problems for most people. It is more of a minimalist philosophy.

What matters for most is a proper fitting shoe.

To be honest, if your feet are in constant hiking shape and the skin is tough, almost any shoe is fine, even if it is a little large. Small shoes are a disaster.

Since moving to light shoes years ago, I haven't had a single blister except for one impact injury, and a couple times abrasion on the ball of my feet when I was too lazy to remove sand or wear gaiters.

Peter Bakwin
(pbakwin) - F
Sportivas on 01/06/2014 15:18:59 MST Print View

Sounds to me like you're tying the shoes too tight & causing stress on the tendons on the top of your foot.

You could try the Sportiva Helios, which has a 4mm drop.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Sportivas on 01/06/2014 18:37:42 MST Print View

If this is the first time you used these shoes for a long walk, and if they are different from the shoes you usually use, then I think the soreness signifies exactly nothing at the moment.

All it takes for you to get sore feet is to wear a slightly different pair. The soreness many just be a sign you are exercising slightly different parts. Wear them doing your day-to-day thing for a while, and stop as soon as your feet start getting sore. If you have the same problem in a few weeks then it might be a more solid problem. But IMHO the fact your feet are sore now doesn't even mean they will not be a net improvement on what you are used to.

The comment about the lacing is a very good one. Sometime different shoe require different lacing to get them comfortable. Be aware of this and experiment a bit. Long story short, try letting you feet get used to them. 2 days is too short. 2 weeks should be more than enough. Then decide if there really is a problem, and what to try next.

Edited by millonas on 01/06/2014 18:39:38 MST.

Erik G
(fox212) - F

Locale: THE Bay Area :)
re: suggestions and comments on 01/06/2014 20:52:27 MST Print View

Thank you for all the thoughtful responses so far! I really appreciate it.

Re tying too tight: I tie my shoes pretty loose, so I don't think that is the problem. Also the wildcats are a half size over my regular and are plenty roomy. They really do fit my feet well. But they're making my ankles sore so far.

I agree that 2 days is not a long time to give the shoes a good chance. I wore them at work today (I walk ~1mi per day back and forth through a machine shop) and my ankles are feeling about the same, maybe a bit worse. It just doesn't really feel like a normal/good kind of soreness. I've been sore from new shoes before but this feels different. I'll give them a couple more days at least, but I couldn't bear to be sore like this for the GGG ;)

I plan to use them for everyday shoes and hiking shoes. I spend a good deal of time on my feet day-to-day, indoors and outdoors. Dayhikes every weekend, and backpacking whenever possible.

Ash, could you elaborate on how shoes with more drop bother you?

Thanks also for the suggestions for possible alternatives. Any bay area (east bay) folks know where I could try on some inov-8s in person?

Also, for the sake of discussion, any thoughts on specific 'symptoms' from switching to shoes with a lot of drop too fast? Or even possible injuries? Similar to how there are things you could expect if you switch to low/no drop shoes too fast

Edited by fox212 on 01/06/2014 21:05:05 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/07/2014 02:29:20 MST Print View

> what are the potential effects of wearing a shoe with too much heel-to-toe drop?

4" heels look a bit odd on muddy trails, and are difficult on scree.


Edited by rcaffin on 01/07/2014 17:29:45 MST.

Marc Britten
Re: re: suggestions and comments on 01/07/2014 06:54:51 MST Print View

You're shifting where in the foot the force of walking/standing is transmitted by raising the heel. This will engage muscles/tendons differently.

Personally I'm a believer that you shouldn't have to break in or wait to adapt to a new pair of shoes. Heavy leather construction maybe a bit of break in, but not sneakers. They either work or they don't. Any pain is a no-go.

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Questions about heel-to-toe drop in footwear on 01/07/2014 20:33:33 MST Print View

"4" heels look a bit odd on muddy trails, and are difficult on scree."