Which heel drop is right for you?
When it comes to shoes, comfort and cushioning are of paramount importance. Finding the right pair can sometimes take a little longer if there are special requirements. For running and sports shoes in particular, there are many aspects that can and should be considered. From time to time, we come across the term "heel drop". But what exactly is meant by "heel drop" or "heel to toe drop" and what is the ideal height? That is exactly what we will talk about and clarify in this blog post to help you make the right choice for your feet.
What is heel drop?
The heel drop of a shoe refers to the shape of its sole and indicates the difference in height between the forefoot and the heel. A higher heel height compared to the forefoot means a higher heel drop. It is important to note, however, that sole thickness is not the same as heel drop, as even thick soles can have an overall low heel drop. The heel to toe drop is usually expressed in millimetres, the calculation being: heel height minus forefoot height gives the heel drop. When the heel and forefoot are at the same height, it is called zero drop.
What is the ideal heel drop for shoes?
There is no general answer to the question of the ideal heel drop, as it depends very much on the intended use and the desired effect. Individual preferences also play an important role. We will now give an overview of the effects of different heel drops, which are often discussed, especially in the when talking about running shoes.
Heel drop in running shoes
Most running shoes have a drop, usually up to 12 millimetres. The amount of cushioning you need depends on your individual running style, whether you are primarily a heel, midfoot, or forefoot runner. Proper cushioning is important to give your foot enough support and ensure necessary shock absorption. Let's take a closer look at the features and benefits of high and low heel drops.
What is a high heel drop?
For runners who first touch the ground with their heel when running - which is the majority of runners - a higher heel drop of about 6 to 12 mm is ideal. This type of cushioning can help with Achilles tendon problems by relieving pressure on the tendon. It also supports the rolling mechanism and cushions the heel nicely. However, high cushioning can also lead to physiological problems in untrained people due to missing tension in the calf muscles. In addition, the load on the knee joint can also increase. These problems can be counteracted by adapting the intensity of training and by practicing compensatory exercises. However, a high heel drop is recommended, especially for beginners, as the heel is better protected. If you are currently looking for running shoes with a high heel drop, our Wool Peak might capture your attention. These running shoes offer pleasant comfort for running on all terrains and are suitable for both running enthusiasts and beginners. The innovative sole is not only very light, but also provides a pleasant cushioning with every step.
If you are looking for a shoe with a high heel drop for everyday use to relieve the heel and Achilles tendon, you may be interested in our classic Merino Runners. These wool sneakers are absolutely versatile for everyday wear, leisure and even work. Light sport and short casual runs are no problem at all. Sporty and casual, these sneakers can be worn with jeans and t-shirts. For a more refined look, Merino Runners are also great with a chic, classic outfit.
What is a low heel drop?
A low heel drop, which is less than 6 mm, is particularly suitable for forefoot runners. In addition, the load on the knee and hip joints is significantly reduced. Similarly, a zero drop can also be advantageous, as a shoe without a heel can strengthen the calf muscles and counteract muscle shortening. Barefoot shoes with zero drop are becoming increasingly popular, as they mimic the natural gait and thus promote foot health. The Merino Barefoot is a perfect example of such a barefoot shoe: it combines an ultra-thin sole with zero drop. The insole stimulates the lower part of the foot, while the natural rubber sole protects the feet. Muscles and tendons are activated, while promoting a more upright posture, which in turn strengthens the back. In addition, the Merino Barefoot can be worn comfortably without socks for an extra barefoot effect. It is important to note, however, that the transition from traditional running shoes with more cushioning to barefoot shoes should be done only gradually to prevent foot pain and problems. Listen to your feet and take enough breaks until you are completely used to the new running sensation. This will allow you to enjoy all the benefits of "Natural Running".
What heel drop do you need?
Even if you don't feel any discomfort while running, it's worth varying your shoe choice from time to time to optimize your foot health. If you run on your heels or have Achilles tendon problems, shoes with a higher heel drop, such as our Wool Peaks or Merino Runners, are suitable.
If you are a forefoot runner or want to train your calf muscles, a low drop or zero drop shoe may be right for you. Barefoot running shoes like our Merino Barefoot offer, in addition to the benefits of barefoot running, temperature-regulating properties, which create a healthy and pleasant climate for your feet. However, if you have painful heels, such as plantar fasciitis or heel spurs, you should make sure to wear shoes with sufficient cushioning to relieve the pain when you run.
What should you look for when choosing your running shoes?
It's a good idea to look closely at your running style and determine if you're a heel or forefoot runner. If you are a heel first runner, you are considered a heel runner and should choose shoes with more cushioning. If, on the other hand, you first touch the ground with the ball of your feet, you are a forefoot runner and should choose shoes with a lower heel drop.
Some tips for running:
- Take your time getting used to your new shoes
- Wear socks to break in your shoes – even if you can wear the shoes without socks
- Train your strength and stability
- Set realistic goals
- Moderately increase your volume and training goals
- Give yourself and your body time to relax and regenerate
- Moderate workouts on a regular basis are healthier for the body than sporadic exhausting workouts.
Looking for casual shoes?
If you're looking for the right pair for your everyday life, you might be interested in our Merino Sneakers. The Merino Wool Knit are not only incredibly comfortable, but also eye-catching with their modern 3D knit upper. If you're looking for something light and airy for summer, our Wool Sneakers might be right for you. They are probably the lightest wool sneakers in the world and offer a modern design, as well as seamless comfort. If you're looking for unparalleled comfort, our Merino Moccasins are the perfect choice. These slip-on shoes offer 360-degree merino comfort and an extremely comfortable fit. Looking for something for outdoor activities? If you're looking for shoes for trekking, hiking and other outdoor activities, the Wool Cross X is the perfect choice. They offer a stable footing thanks to their Micro-Grip sole and the highly functional merino wool ensures total comfort at the same time.
What are you waiting for? Get your merino shoes for sport or leisure and enjoy the proven comfort of GIESSWEIN. Share your style with us at @giesswein_ with #giesswein on Instagram.