If you’ve ever looked into what shoes to wear on a run, walk, hike or even casual wear (with zero drop), you might have been baffled by the sheer number of options out there.
You might be wondering “What’s a zero drop shoe?” or “Should you even wear a zero drop shoe?”
And if you are reading this, you might be saying to yourself “I’m not sure if I even need a ‘zero drop’ shoe… Should I?”
If so, then this Ultimate Guide is perfect for you!
(If you’re wondering why we created this guide, read on… It will answer all of your questions!)Table of Contents
So, what is a zero drop shoe?
A zero drop shoe is a shoe that does not have any additional drop in the heel & forefoot, making the shoe “flat” from heel to toe.
If you haven’t guessed already, “drop” is the difference between the forefoot height and the heel height of a shoe.
When you bend down, your actual height is the same as it was when you straightened up.
It does exactly what its name implies.
What’s great about a zero drop shoe is that you never have to worry about the “drop” at all! Zero drop just means there is no added “drop” in the heel.
They are designed to give you the best natural, barefoot running experience.
I know it sounds silly, but this shoe that is designed to ‘feel’ like running or walking barefoot.
It’s what nature intended—to be able to run free and feel the earth under your feet!
Okay, let’s say I DO want to use these shoes FOR…
I know what you’re thinking. I want to wear these shoes for running, walking and other activities, but what are the benefits and drawbacks?
Are they good or bad? Here’s what we’ve found:
The most common use for a zero drop shoe is running.
This is where most people get them–to make your running more natural and to help you run using your body’s built in mechanics (your joints).
Running is the most natural and barefoot-like way to move on earth.
Putting weight on your feet and adding shock to your joints is not natural. Your body was meant to run on all fours, using instincts and physics–not your shoes.
A zero drop running shoe (made with natural materials) may indeed allow you to run longer, enjoy the experience more and not injure yourself.
This is the primary benefit for running. Here are the key advantages of zero drop/barefoot running shoes:
● Better for knee health and injury prevention.
● Minimizes calf tension (prevents shin splints and Achilles tendinitis).
● The zero shoe strengthens the calf and keeps the foot in its natural position.
● Less strain on back and hips for a more even gait. (Evenly distributes weight across the foot, easing up on shock from the feet.)
● If you have narrow feet, high arches, and ankle sprains frequently, zero drop shoes might be a good choice.
● Improves posture = less back pain. Makes it easier to maintain a natural standing and walking posture.
● Easier to get on and off of your feet, making it easier to train barefoot.
● Provides the best possible barefoot running experience.
● First time forefoot runners may find it difficult, depending on their ankles, achilles tendons, and calves.
● People who have never run barefoot before, running on a zero drop can be very hard to get used to.
● People with knee injuries and runners with flat feet may have trouble with zero drop shoes.
● You may experience lower leg, calf and achilles problems.
It’s best to get a medium cushioned zero-drop shoe if you want to try it, and then transition from high heels to zero drop shoes gradually. You can try it out and see how it goes.
If you don’t want to wait, just break in the zero drop shoe gradually. Run less than usual until you get used to it. Also, get a wide toe box so your toes won’t feel squeezed together.
Do you walk? What about on concrete? If you do, then you need to wear a zero drop shoe for walking.
A zero drop shoe for walking gives you the best barefoot experience possible, even if it is on concrete!
That’s because concrete is a hard surface that can be very tough on your feet.
It is absolutely the worst thing you can walk on in terms of comfort and stability, especially if you have flat feet, overpronate and plan to do a lot of walking.
If you are looking for zero drop shoes for walking, then zero drop sneakers are the way to go!
They will help your body stay in alignment when walking and protect your bones, muscles and connective tissue from injury or overuse.
The key advantages and disadvantages of zero drop walking shoes: All of the same benefits and disadvantages apply.
● More comfortable when walking on uneven surfaces and on concrete.
● Zero drop shoes will keep your feet and knees at the same height so you will be more balanced in the gait cycle.
● Great for walking and balancing on uneven surfaces like playgrounds, street corners, uneven sidewalks or curbs, etc..
● Perfect for walking on the beach and smooth surfaces like paved concrete or sidewalks.
● Very comfortable shoes to walk in because they are less structured than other kinds of low-heel shoes.
● Provides natural foot placement with no special footbeds or inserts and no special socks or insoles.
● Zero drop shoes have a lower arch than high-arch walking shoes, which work well for most conditions. They protect the bottom of your foot from protectors as you walk through snow and grass.
● Zero drop shoe helps to place your weight properly onto the ball of your foot. This helps to protect and support your heal since you no longer have a heel to hold up.
● The most notable disadvantage is that your feet will slip on some surfaces when walking. This is something you will have to get use to, and it can help prevent over-pronation and bad foot alignment!
● We often experience foot collapse when walking on hard surfaces, causing excessive stress not just on the foot but also on the rest of our bodies.
● If you have a poor foot structure , then you will actually have less room to move your toes while walking. This is not comfortable and your body will have a hard time running and walking.
● These type of shoes will not hold up well for everyday use, especially for people with high arches.
● When walking long distances you will have to stop and give your feet some rest from time to time because they are worn out so quickly since there is no arch support.
“Start out slow! If you are going to swap your old shoes for zero drop shoes, we suggest adding in the barefoot running into your routine first. Even after your feet get used to that kind of movement, it will still take some time to adjust.”
Hiking and Backpacking 🎒
Are you one of those avid hikers or backpackers who are looking for shoes that are more barefoot friendly?
If you are, then a zero drop shoe is a must-have for hiking!
This is why the Zero Drop shoe became so popular among hikers! They give you the best barefoot experience when enjoying all of your trails.
This means that your feet will stay balanced and your ankles won’t be tiring out as much. You can relax and enjoy the magic of nature with far less soreness in your calves.
Here are the key advantages/disadvantages of zero drop/barefoot hiking shoes: All of the same benefits and disadvantages apply.
● Natural ground feel and slip
● Less stress on the legs, hips and back for a more even gait. (Evenly distributes weight across the foot, easing up on shock from the feet.)
● More natural position to stand and walk.
● Able to get into the best positions when walking or standing.
● Helps get your body into a natural barefoot position for running.
● Less support from shoes = less protection for your feet.
● Not great for serious hikes or jogging on tough terrain.
● Not great for protecting delicate feet from hot asphalt, sharp rocks or other elements that could cut/irritate your feet.
● The tendons and muscles of your lower legs will be put under more pressure with less arch support.
● It is not recommended to wear zero drop shoes on steep hills.
If you’re thinking about getting a pair of these shoes, we recommend something that is specifically designed for hiking.
Trail Running 🏃
When it comes to trail running, they’re not really that much different from a zero drop shoe for running.
However, if you are a trail runner (or want to be one) we recommend getting a shoe with trail running in mind.
They will make your running much more natural and give you the best experience possible without so much effort. Because when you run on a flat surface, it is almost impossible to run naturally.
A zero drop shoe can do the trick. It’s what nature intended—to be able to run on four paws and feel the earth under your feet!
The advantages and disadvantages of zero drop trail running shoes: All of the same benefits and disadvantages apply.
● You can improve your gait and strength with zero-drop shoes since they eliminate the crutch that heavy heel padding provides.
● Foot position is natural.
● Better for your joints.
● You get to run on all fours, again, the most natural way with your body.
● Less muscle soreness and fatigue over time when running on trails.
● Zero drop shoes are compatible with your trail running and hiking needs! Also better than heavy boots that might cause soreness in the legs and hips when running on uneven surfaces, especially if you don’t naturally have wide feet or a higher arch.
● Runners can get away with less drop because the underground is undulating and irregular.
● Foot injuries in general are much more common with trail running.
● More chance to land awkwardly on uneven surfaces.
● Excessively high heels or fast-paced running can cause muscle strains.
● Zero drop running shoes are not made to handle rough terrain or obstacles (rocks, roots, etc).
Zero drop shoes are best suited to barefoot runners looking to improve their gait, not those wanting protection from injuries or difficult conditions. If you’re carrying a pack or doing endurance runs, you need stiffer support.
Golf is not just about practicing the game and playing in tournaments; it’s also about enjoying the sport.
You want to do it all the time, but you won’t be able to if you don’t have the right kind of shoes.
If you want to wear a pair of zero drop hiking/running shoes for golf, the first thing that comes to mind is that golf isn’t the best match for this type of shoe.
It’s not that it can’t be done, but they aren’t designed for it. Zero drop shoes are best for off-the-cuff activities like hiking, trail running or working out.
It’s obvious that your feet will be moving a lot on the golf course, and it’s not something that a pair of zero drop shoes has been made to do.
The golfing industry hasn’t yet caught up to this trend. ( Maybe they will someday! )
You can still benefit from wearing a pair of zero drop shoes for golf if you use them respectfully. You just have to learn how to keep them in the best condition possible for your sport.
● Zero drop shoes are extremely comfortable to wear and play in because they have a flexible, natural fit. They will make you feel like you aren’t wearing a shoe at all!
● Because of the instability factor, you are forced to have your feet positioned more in front of your body. This will help you to develop the muscles in the lower body and core which gives you better balance.
● More versatility than any other kind of shoe. They are so lightweight that they can be used for a wide variety of conditions, some of which are perfect for golf.
● When buying a pair of zero drop shoes, you should look for one that supports your back and your feet very well; this will aid you in achieving better balance and will take pressure off the heel and ankle.
● Zero drop shoes will help you to develop the muscles in your legs and core because, when walking around a golf course, you have to stop a lot. You’ll have time to practice stretching, gait and strengthening those leg muscles.
● Due to the lack of arch support, you have to keep an eye on your feet during every swing. If your feet collapse or the ball pushes abnormally inwards, you’re likely to miss the ball.
● These shoes do not provide the stability that you need to walk on a golf course without injuring yourself. This may force you to put a lot more pressure on your knees which could cause injury.
● Because the shoes are not perfect for golf course, they will wear out quite quickly. The soles will get flattened and will have to be replaced fairly frequently.
“It’s a lot about understanding what you need for your game and how to best achieve your goals on the golf course. If you are going to make the switch, start with a few rounds in your zero drop shoes and see how they feel.”
Everyday Work 👨💻
If you wear zero drop shoes in your everyday work, you have to have a crystal clear purpose for them.
You can’t just wear them because you like the way they look or feel; you need to have an actual reason for wearing them. Is your job involves standing on your feet a lot?
If you work at a desk, you definitely need to know if zero drop shoes are the best for work.
Are you a teacher, architect or some kind of construction worker? These kinds of shoes are going to be uncomfortable for you very quickly.
When you’re working, you need to be on your feet for hours at a time. You’re going to be in pain and your feet need to be supported.
Zero drop shoes are great for activities that involve walking around, but you’re not always necessarily on the move.
● Zero drop shoes are the perfect match for workers who want to stay active and be in shape. They are the best combination of comfort and support that you can find in a work shoe.
● The shoes allow better flexibility, motion and circulation through the lower body which will allow you to stay active for more hours during the day.
● The lightweight material will allow feet to breathe and reduce foot sweat which can become very uncomfortable.
● Zero drop shoes will help your posture, which will make you feel lighter, more refreshed and comfortable during the work day.
● If you are looking for a shoe with arch support , then zero drop shoes aren’t going to do the trick.
● Heavy workloads will easily cause foot fatigue, making work less enjoyable and more painful. Your feet are going to hurt and you’re going to stop enjoying the overall experience of your job.
● Some people like the look of these shoes, but are also uncomfortable in them due to being used to wearing regular shoes.
“If you want to wear zero drop shoes in your everyday work, do it the right way and make sure that they are sturdy and supportive.”
Casual Wear 👕👖
Zero drop shoes can be worn for all kinds of occasions, formal and informal. There are many different kinds of activities for which you can wear these shoes, from running, yoga and walking, to snowshoeing and golfing.
You don’t have to be a hardcore athlete to enjoy wearing zero drop shoes for casual wear; you can just wear them for leisure.
Most people think of wearing zero drop shoes only when they go jogging or working out.
But there is no reason why you shouldn’t wear them to work every day as long as they have the right kind of look to them.
● Zero drop shoes are very comfortable shoes because they allow your feet to move naturally with no restrictions.
● If you are going on a casual walking trip or looking for an easy way to get around town, then zero drop shoes are perfect for you. They are light and they will not take up too much space in your bag. Plus, they will be comfortable to wear on their own.
● The most important element of your zero drop shoes is that they have a neutral fit for both the ball of the foot and the heel. This means that, even when you wear formal business attire, you can still feel good about having a barefoot sensation.
● Zero drop shoes will also allow you to stretch and strengthen your muscles in your feet as well as the legs and core due to the amount of walking that you do in them.
● If you decide to go for a pair of canvas shoes, they will be very inexpensive and you’ll be able to enjoy them for quite some time. The shoes will look good with most casual outfits and will never go out of style.
● Some people are allergic to the material used in zero drop shoes.
● Since these shoes do not provide much arch support, you may have to rely on your own feet for balance.
● If you’re not used to wearing zero drop shoes, they can feel a little odd and uncomfortable.
“If you are going to make the switch, make sure that you have gone through a lot of research on the pros and cons of zero drop shoes. You need to be aware of all their features, so you can decide if they are worth it or not.”
Training, Crossfit & Cross Training 💪
Zero drop shoes are used in the fitness industry for a wide variety of purposes.
They are also commonly used by Crossfitters, as they provide more mobility and comfort than regular equipment.
Street workout gyms—called low impact gyms—are popping up around the country.
There, trainers are using zero drop shoes because they provide excellent support for movements like squats and deadlifts.
Crossfit is a fitness workout that comes from Olympic weightlifting and gymnastics.
Since the shoes work so well in this environment, they are also commonly used by athletes competing in Crossfit competitions.
● Zero drop shoes allow you to perform multiple movements and exercises with better balance, support, and mobility. You’ll be able to focus on your own form and learn how to apply what you’ve learned in other areas of your life—like how to lift weights or run stairs.
● If you want to lift weights or do squats, you’ll be able to do it in a way that is comfortable and easy for you.
● When you wear zero drop shoes, you’ll be able to increase the weight that you lift, but in a way that is still safe for your body.
● These shoes are great for cardio as well, because of their lightweight material and the way in which they support your ankles and your feet.
● Your flexibility will increase with zero drop shoes, allowing you to reach greater heights than you would have been able to before.
● The shoes are very easy to clean. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth and they will look brand new again!
● These shoes aren’t going to be great for every workout.
● If you are looking for arch support, then these shoes aren’t going to work for you.
● If you are looking to use these shoes as part of a program, you can’t simply wear them to a regular gym and then leave them on while you go do your regular workout.
“If you decide to go for zero drop shoes, make sure that they fit the way that your feet naturally move. Don’t try and get a pair that is too tight or too loose—you can hurt yourself doing that.
A good place to start would be to go see your doctor, who can make the right recommendation for you and give you products that are good for your specific situation.”
Tennis Court 🎾
Zero drop shoes are popular among tennis players because they provide a lot of performance benefits, including more mobility, speed, and comfort.
For tennis players, it’s important to have a shoe that allows you to move easily on the court.
You want to be able to make your shots and quickly return them to your opponent when you miss something. You also want to be able to move around the court as easily and efficiently as possible, so you don’t burn off too much energy when you are out there.
Plus, many tennis players like zero drop shoes because they are a lot easier on their ankles and their feet.
You’ll take less time off of your feet, and your ankles will be stable but also not constricted when you play.
● It’s easy to move around in your shoes, and that might be what you need if you are competing on the tennis court. You’ll be able to take the ball quickly and without having to worry about your opponent trying to take advantage of your slow footwork.
● These shoes are great because they allow your ankles and feet to move naturally while still providing a lot of stability.
● Tennis players can perform their movement freely in these shoes.
● This can improve leg strength and flexibility, which will help you to perform better in the weight room on your off days.
● These shoes also balance your foot throughout all different moving parts of the swing.
● If you have wide feet, you’ll have to make sure that the shoes are a bit bigger in order to accommodate them.
● If you are looking for a shoe with arch support, these aren’t going to work for you.
● If you have a problem with your ankles and they hurt while you play, zero drop shoes might not be the best approach for your situation.
● These shoes aren’t going to be great if you are planning on using them every day you play.
“Make sure you buy shoes with a wide toe box and that don’t squeeze your feet when you hit the courts. Rely on your own form and make sure that you are taking the right steps to make sure that you are playing at the level of your body’s capabilities.”
Is it true that zero drop shoes cause… injuries?
If you look around the internet, you can find lot of people ask question :
Does using zero drop shoes cause ___? What are the side effects of a zero drop shoe? Are these shoes good for ___?
I have achilles tendonitis, can I wear these? You are at the beginning of the runner’s journey, do you think you need to wear these? Are there other options that don’t affect my running?
Or Should I consult with a doctor first before considering a switch? (Yes, we believe you should speak with your local running store and/or doctor before switching anything. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!)
It seems that everyone has a different idea on how a zero drop shoe will affect them.
We get the same questions over and over from our readers. Here is a quick list of the most common concerns and what we found in our research.
Here’s what you need to know:-
Possible Side effects OR Injury:
🔰 Toe pain: The BAREFOOT running experience can help address toe pain. What’s the trick? Run your best, and run to feel! You may find that you enjoy it and want to do it more often.
🔰 Knee problems: Likewise, it is unlikely your knees will cause you problem if you are doing it right. There are a few things to keep in mind:
✅ Use your butt when running! Load your hips and lean forward with each step. If you lean back immediately, you are likely to over-pronate and increase the risk of knee injuries.
✅ Be sure to keep proper form and mechanics when running. This can prevent knee pain, joint pain and body imbalances.
🔰 Achilles tendonitis: Achilles tendonitis is commonly caused by over-pronation, improper training or foot mechanics when starting out. Yes, it could cause Achilles tendonitis but it will very likely address this issue as long as you take it slow and learn to run correctly.
🔰 Plantar fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common foot injuries and can be caused by Zero drop shoes. If you find it bothersome, we recommend you cure your plantar fasciitis fast!
🔰 An ankle problem: You may experience ankle pain, particularly if your arches are too high. Running on zero drop shoes can cause some problems like this, but it should not last long. After you have adjusted to the zero drop shoes, you may find that your arches will lower automatically.
🔰 Shin splints: Do zero drop shoes cause shin splints? Not at all! if you are doing it right, and if you aren’t over-training or pushing too hard too fast. If you are getting shin splints, “it isn’t the shoes, it’s you!”
🔰 Heel pain: Zero drop shoes can help with heel pain and Achilles issues. Again, it is all about your form. These shoes will push your feet into their natural positions allowing the essential muscles to do their job.
“If you are a new runner and have not been in shoes for a long time, then it may be best to stay away from zero drop shoes. If you are going to use them, then it would make sense to talk with your local running store and/or doctor first. ”
# How to fix ______(knee problems, plantar fasciitis, shin splints etc. ) ?
It’s no secret that people are worried about their health and are more aware of what they put in their bodies than ever before.
This has led to an increase in the demand for healthy foods, and a decrease in the consumption of things we consider unhealthy.
The same concept applies to running shoes. Many people are concerned about how their shoes affect their health.
They want to know if zero drop shoes will fix ___________ (toe pain, knee problems, plantar fasciitis etc. ), and if so, how can they use it to their advantage?
The truth of the matter is that the answer varies from person to person.
Some people find that zero drop shoes are just as good as heeled shoes, while others have found zero drop shoes completely useless.
The only way to know is to consult a podiatrist who will be able to give you more accurate information.Disclaimer: We are not doctors or medical professionals, and these are our opinions on things we have read, researched or experienced through personal use of zero drop shoes. This article is not meant to replace medical advice from any medical professional. It is only intended for educational purposes, to help you make an informed decision about running with zero drop shoes. There are many things that we simply don’t know about running and its relationship with health, so please consult your doctor before making any changes to your routine.
What are the best brands (and are there any brands to avoid?)
There are many great brands that have released zero drop shoes.
Virtually every brand has different opinions on what makes a good shoe and what is most effective for your foot type.
The most popular brands include: Altra, New Balance, Xero and Asics.
So which one of them is best? That depends on your needs! We recommend Altra brand as they are specialized in barefoot shoes.
As for Avoiding certain brands, it really depends on your personal preferences.
Obviously, if you are on a tight budget, then one of the less expensive brands may work for you.
You won’t have to worry about breaking the bank either, as most of these cheap shoes often include some great features (including good grip) and provide a decent level of quality.
If you are looking for a good, durable zero drop shoe AND have the budget, we recommend a few more popular brands:
- Altra (our favorite brand that has the most variety of zero drop shoes)
- New Balance (another good option if you don’t need many different types of shoes)
- Xero (if you want a good zero drop shoe on a budget, Xero is a great, affordable option)
- Asics (if you are one of those who doesn’t mind paying a little more for a good, premium shoe)
How do I transition to zero drop shoes?
So, you are ready to take the plunge and you want to switch your traditional running shoes for zero drop shoes?
You’re not the only one. Many people have done it before, and many more will do it after you.
Since this is such a popular trend, we thought we would dedicate a whole section to helping you transition efficiently into these new shoes! Here are our recommendations:
🔰 Do a gradual transition: Don’t just go out and buy your zero drop shoes right away.
You need to make sure that your general running mechanics will hold up when you transition, and vice versa for the new shoes.
If you are in a hurry, then we have already discussed how to transition to zero drop shoes above.
Instead, it is best to take your time when switching over. Your long term health and running performance will benefit from doing so!
🔰 Give yourself time: Switching to zero drop shoes will take time, so give yourself some extra time.
You want to make sure that you are comfortable in your new shoes, and that they are working well for you before doing anything else!
If you’re forcing yourself into these shoes, then it won’t work out well. Instead, give yourself some time to adapt and figure out which zero drop shoes are right for you.
Remember, you may want to experiment with Zero drop shoes in order to find a model that fits your needs!
🔰 How much experience do you have with running? Here is how to transition to zero drop shoes
If you are new and haven’t ran in a while, then don’t jump right into this whole zero drop thing.
Instead, take it slow. Transition into the shoes little by little and then move on to a more advanced shoe. You don’t want to push yourself too hard or too fast!
This is a big transition for your body, so be patient with it. We have a more detailed section on transitioning below!
🔰 Make sure your shoes are broken in: Like anything new, you need to make sure that your zero drop shoes are broken in before you run in them.
Take a few days to walk around in them before hitting the road. This will help you get used to them and make sure that you can use them correctly before taking on the pavement.
The difference between zero drop shoes, barefoot shoes, and minimalist shoes
“ I’m confused! What exactly is the difference between zero drop shoes and barefoot shoes? ”
We get this question A LOT, so we wanted to clarify the difference between these terms and how they relate to one another.
Here is the breakdown:
🔰 Zero Drop Shoes: Zero drop shoes are running shoes that have a very low heel height, occasionally going completely flat (no difference between heel and toe) or close to it.
Yes, this means that you have a zero drop shoe. Zero drop shoes also offer excellent support and cushioning, making them great for running and other athletic activities.
🔰 Barefoot Shoes: Barefoot shoes are running shoes that have a very low heel, but without the flexibility of zero drop shoes.
This means that you can feel the ground through your shoes and gradually wear them out (although with this also comes incredible health benefits in the long run).
They are great for people who are still new to running and may have more trouble adapting to the zero drop shoes.
🔰 Minimalist Shoes: Minimalist shoes are zero drop, but they have wide toe box and provide some cushioning for the strike zone that gives you a more whole foot feeling.
Minimalist shoes are also not quite barefoot shoes, so depending on the model, they may have a specific aspect that separates them from zero drop and barefoot shoes.
CONCLUSION: Zero Drop Shoes The Ultimate Guide
At this point, you should have a much better idea of what zero drop shoes are and why you should be trying them out!
Not only do they feel amazing and help reduce your impact, but they are also better for your health in the long run (since they help protect your joints).
If you are ready to be a part of this trend and try zero drop shoes, then that is fantastic! It is definitely something we are all jumping on in the fitness world, but it is also something we would recommend for everyone.
Whether you’re just starting out or have been running for years, zero drop shoes are a great addition to your fitness routine.
If you have any other questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to put them in the comments section below! We will answer as many questions as we can to help everyone learn more about zero drop shoes.